Ambit announces the winners

Ambit has always loved wild things: bold, challenging, joyful, feral, utterly ungovernable - that's the kind of work that Ambit has made a home for these past six decades. It's the kind of work that's exciting to write and exciting to read. At sixty, Ambit's passion for thrilling work is fiercer than ever so it feels only right that the theme for our competition this diamond anniversary year should be 'Wild'.

Poets responded to the 'Wild' theme in all sorts of wonderful ways.
Judge, Liz Berry read poems about nature - back gardens to vast bays, moors to mountains - and poems which spoke of the wildness within us, wildness of the body and of the mind, wildness in love and grief. There were many poems which worked with myth and folklore, the wild threads which run through our everyday stories.

Liz Berry said: ‘Poetry competitions are painfully hard to judge, especially near the end when all the poems are just so good. You read them again and again and all are appealing in different ways. Eventually, you have to just go for the poems which stay in your head and heart the longest, technically good but with that fizz that means there's something special at work, that little crackle of electricity in the pre-storm air. Here are those wild and shining poems! I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did. It was a joy to read and to choose them and I only wish we had the space and time to hear more. But that's for another issue and the next sixty years...’

1st place Yvonne Reddick - In the Burning Season
2nd place Jane Lovell - Night Fox with Stars
3rd place Ella Duffy - Halves 

Liz Berry said of Yvonne Reddick’s winning poem In the Burning Season ‘I was captivated by this wild fiery folkloric poem. I loved its dark, scorching story, its odd sensuality, and the way it holds just the right balance of lyrical detail and narrative. The voice is wonderful and those last taut lines send us back into the poem and the story again and again, finding new things each time. I wished it was mine!’

All three winning poems will be published in issue 238 of Ambit Magazine and the poets will be part of a night of poetry on Thursday 24th October at Manchester Writing School where they will be performing alongside Liz Berry, Jade Cuttle, Maryam Hessavi and Yvonne Reddick.

Commended in alphabetical order:
Rosa Campbell - A Tiger Tongue Can Lick Flesh Right Off the Bones of Its Prey
Jane Craven - In the Cafe
Susan E. Holland - Random Statement
Helen Overell - Rose Garden, Polesden Lacey
Yvonne Reddick - High Low
Beatrice Stanley - Wild Garlic
Meda Stamper - like a wilderness


Liz Berry was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto, 2014) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Her pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. Liz works as a tutor for organisations including the Arvon Foundation and Writing West Midlands.