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Poems exploring identity and migration win this year’s record-breaking Overton Poetry Prize

Pnina Shinebourne has been declared the winner of the Overton Poetry Prize 2017 with a sequence of poems entitled Uproot.

Evolved from life stories, Pnina’s poetry explores aspects of identity in a dialogue between roots and routes in a world on the move.

Describing her work, Pnina said: “The poems in this pamphlet capture the Ethiopian Jewish community’s quest for reaching a mythical Jerusalem, through crossings of deserts, dislocation and loss. They expose the clash between a place in the imagination, and the harsh reality of trying to make sense of a totally different social and cultural world.

“This is a story of vision and resilience, and of an emergence of a multidimensional sense of belonging through new configurations of multiple voices and places.”

Pnina said she was “delighted and honoured” to have won and hopes that the pamphlet will enable more readers to access stories and experiences of migration.

As the winner of this year’s competition, which is run by the School of Arts, English and Drama, Pnina will have her work published in chapbook form. Two runners-up prizes of a £50 Amazon voucher will be awarded to Maria Isakova and Michael Brown for …An Ache in Each Welcoming Kiss and Julie Lumsden for Dog Days.

This year’s competition attracted almost 100 entries – more than in any other year – from as far afield as New Zealand and the USA. It was judged by poet Helen Calcutt, and Dr Kerry Featherstone, Programme Director for Loughborough’s MA in Creative Writing.

Dr Featherstone said: “Judging was particularly difficult this year, not because of the number of entries but the quality of the writing. Several of the entries would make a great pamphlet in their own right, and we spent many hours making our decision.”

The Overton Poetry Prize was founded in memory of Professor Bill Overton (1946-2012), who was formerly Head of the Department of English and Drama. Much of Bill’s teaching and writing was on poetry, and the proceeds from this competition fund an early-career poet in residence for Loughborough University.

Uproot will be officially launched at a ceremony at the University, which will also mark the opening of the Overton Poetry Prize 2018. Copies will be available to buy at the launch and online shortly afterwards.