Winners were announced last week of Exmoor National Park Authority’s Dark Skies Poetry competition. The poetry competition, which attracted over 300 entries, was part of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, which ran for two weeks at the end of October. Events including night walks, family discovery events and planetarium sessions, were attended by over 3,000 people.
Katrina Munro at Exmoor National Park Authority, who coordinated the festival, said: “We were delighted that so many people took the time to write and submit a poem. The tranquillity of the darkness, and the stars, moon and planets are such a source of inspiration for all ages. It’s important that people appreciate the significance of dark skies to our understanding of our place in the universe, as well as for our night-time creatures.”
Exmoor National Park is a designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Planning restrictions and lighting recommendations are used to help protect the area from any increases in light pollution, which can have an adverse effect on the environment and wildlife.
The entries were judged by poet Mark Totterdell, whose latest book of poems, Mapping, is available from www.indigodreams.co.uk. Mark said: “I enjoyed having the opportunity to read all these poems, and it was very hard to pick the winners from over 300 entries. Many of the poems contained striking images and memorable phrases that stuck in my mind and vividly transported me to the moor at night.”
There were ten winners spread over three age categories. As well as having their entries placed on public display in the National Park Centres at Lynmouth, Dulverton and Dunster, the poets will also receive a dark skies goody bag including a Glow in the Dark beanie hat from competition sponsors Sunday Afternoons UK and astronomy prizes from Astronomy Now magazine.
Winners in the under 11 category will also receive a signed copy of the newly published book Jacob Starke Loves The Dark, by Peta Rainford, who used to live on Exmoor. The book is on sale at the National Park Centres.
Rachel Rudd, who won a prize in the adult category, along with one of her pupils at Bampton School, where she teaches, said: “I’m really pleased to win a prize, it was great fun doing poetry with the children and watching their ideas blossom. They created some really inspiring poetry and I never thought in a light year that I’d win! It’s wonderful to share the applause with Jonah as he wrote such a great poem.”
The winners are:
· Under 11s category – James Allenby from St Dubricius School, Porlock, Jonah Kettleborough from Bampton School, and Lyla Poole from Williton.
· 11-15s category – Zach Spelman and Beth Melton-Baguley, from Ilfracombe Academy, and Henry Earp, from Kings Hall Taunton.
· Adult category – Angie Butler, from Penzance, David Tilley, from Withypool and Rachel Rudd, from Barnstaple.
PHOTO: Jonah Kettleborough, Bampton School, with Katrina Munro