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Ghost Light on Stage at Norwich Theatre Royal Auditorium

Ghost Light Winners Revealed

Poems by Hester Jimpson, Kay Hathway and Louise Goulding were chosen by the expert panel.


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Today on National Poetry Day, we are delighted to announce the winners of the Ghost Light poetry competition.

Supported by the National Centre for Writing, the challenge was first launched on April 17 to help commemorate the time our doors were closed to the public and performances were unable to take place. Entrants were encouraged to reflect on the experience of lockdown and the time they have spent away from venues such as Norwich Theatre Royal, Norwich Theatre Playhouse and Norwich Theatre Stage Two.

Selected by eight prominent members of the local arts community, the following three poems were named the winners of the competition:

Let’s Adopt Granny Six, by Hester Jimpson
Midnight Performance, by Kay Hathway
Snails, by Louise Goulding

After being told the good news, Hester Jimpson said: “I’m absolutely thrilled I’ve been picked as a winner! Ghost Light is the first poetry challenge I’ve entered and my success will spur me on to do more. Congratulations to my fellow winners, Kay and Louise.”

Kay Hathway told us how she felt entering the competition: “I was really delighted to hear I’m one of the three selected as winners. It’s welcome news indeed. It’s a great feeling when you are a winner, but I think the same could be said for all the entrants, given that we all set out with the same intention, of responding to a great theatre’s act of reaching out to it’s audiences, during one of the most extraordinary periods in recent history.”

Louise Goulding appreciated the opportunity to share her observations from recent months: “I can’t believe my poem has been chosen as one of the winners, I’m so pleased and really surprised! Lockdown was such a tough, strange time, and this competition was one of the only creative things I managed to do. I’m looking forward to reading the other poems – I bet there will be lots of emotions and experiences from the last few months that we’ll all relate to.”

We would like to express our thanks to everyone who has taken part, as we have thoroughly enjoyed reading your work. The judging panel were bowled over by the quality of the entries.

Sally-Anne Lomas (Writer, Filmmaker, Artist) shared her thoughts on the poems: “What I think made the three winners stand out was their story telling – each one presented  a vivid encounter so personal and specific that you could picture the scene or scenes taking place before you. My personal favourite was Snails – I loved the simplicity of this poem and the honest but touching portrayal of a Mother and daughter dealing with the challenge and opportunities of Lockdown. I love the last line ‘It’s like us. Staying home.’ such a lovely and truthful sense of a six year old understanding a new world.”

Wendy Ellis (Learning & Participation Director, Norwich Theatre) said:  “It has been an absolute pleasure to have read all of the shortlisted poems. The talent and breadth of topics covered is inspirational. Each poem was written with thoughtfulness and care, creating a beautiful reminder of the experiences brought to us all by this extraordinary year. Midnight Performance is a beautifully crafted poem. It is haunting in the imagery it conjures, bringing a reminder of the stark losses our theatres are currently creating – both for performers, for audiences, and for all us who work and visit there.”

Sam Ruddock (Director, Story Machines) commented: ‘I was delighted and impressed with the simple elegance and power of the shortlisted entries. These are poems that capture the quiet magnitude of lockdown: the days upon days at home seeing out environments with fresh attention, other people with fresh love. Let’s Adopt Granny Six made me beam with warmth and happiness. A lovely rhyming poem that tells an alternate story of lockdown.”

Poppy Stevens (Actor, Poet, Community Theatre Facilitator) added: “It was a joy to read all the poems. Each one telling a story from a different perspective. I was overwhelmed by the quality, delicacy and honesty of the winning poems.”

When our buildings fully re-open to the public, the three winning poems will be displayed at our three venues. Preparations are also underway to publish work submitted as part of the Ghost Light challenge, in a special booklet. We will be sharing more information about the project in due course.

You can read the three winning poems below: