2012 has been an incredible year for St Andrews — in addition to being officially recognised as one of the most creative places in the country, having won a Creative Place Award, the town has also enjoyed the additional honour of being selected to take part in ‘Winning Words’, a national initiative tying in creativity in smaller communities to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in a poetry-based project.
As the representative for this town-wide accolade, the Byre Theatre decided to run a poetry competition for all of Fife’s primary and secondary schools.
The purpose of the competition was to encourage the county’s younger generations to mark such an eventful year with their own creative work and to show how the 30th Olympiad has inspired them.
In order to give all entrants an equal chance, a specific seminar was held for class teachers at the Byre Theatre on August 30 with celebrated poet Ryan Van Winkle, which discussed how teachers could develop poetry in the classroom by using the Olympics and sport as a theme.
Working alongside Ryan on the project was the Byre Theatre’s own poet in residence, Kevin Cadwallender. Both poets also liaised directly with schools in St Andrews and Fife to help generate submissions and inspire young writers, working with their teachers along the way.
The submission deadline has now passed and after sifting through the hundreds of exceptionally high-quality entries received from budding young poets, the judges decided that the winning poem is ‘Austerity’ by Sioned Raybould, a S6 student from Waid Academy.
The close runner-up was Rebecca Forsyth, also an S6 Waid Academy pupil, with her poem ‘The Olympic Games’. There are also commendations for Elie Primary School, Leuchars Primary School and Mountfluerie Primary School.
Both the winner and runner-up of the contest were formally announced at the Byre Theatre tomorrow on National Poetry Day, linking the project’s conclusion to a nationwide celebration of verse. The winning poem will be used as the basis for a specially commissioned art installation, to be created by a visual artist, which will be displayed in a prominent space at the Byre Theatre.
All runners-up and class teachers will also benefit from the competition, and will be presented with free tickets for Byre Theatre performances.
Already famed as one of the poetry world’s top destinations (playing host to the StAnza poetry festival each year), St Andrews has reinforced this reputation by being officially selected as the only place in Scotland to be a part of the ‘Winning Words’ initiative.
The poetry competition, organised by the theatre, has also contributed to the ongoing cultural activities that form part of the St Andrews ‘Year of Celebration’ (a programme of events planned by the Byre Theatre and the St Andrews Partnership), which celebrates the best of Fife’s cultural and artistic offerings, whilst preserving its rich cultural heritage for generations to come.