A variety of thoughtful, inventive and moving poems have won a Cambridge poetry competition that celebrates the University’s 800th Anniversary.

The Haddon Library of Archaeology and Anthropology invited members of the public to write poems that included the numbers 800, 1209, and 2009, significant dates in the University’s 800 year history.

The numbers could have been used in any way the poet wanted, as dates, amounts of money or even postcodes.

Winning poem ‘His eightieth’ was written by Roger Elkin, a recognised English poet who has won over 100 prizes in competitions across the world.

Elkin used the significant dates in Cambridge history as times throughout a gentleman’s 80th birthday.

Roger’s prize-winning poetry has previously appeared in journals, literary magazines and periodicals, both nationally and internationally.

2nd prize was awarded to Mary Courtney for her poem ‘The Story of 800’.

Mary started writing poetry as an escape from the debilitating effects of ME, an illness she developed in 2007.

Writing poetry has been a lifeline for Mary, a vital means of expression, creativity and productivity.

Caroline Gill gained 3rd place with her poem ‘Sleepover at the Museum’.

The poem describes spending a night at a museum after dark: ‘the cases glint: their shadow worlds collide then disappear.’

This is the second poetry competition that the Haddon Library have organised, their first in 2006 to mark their 70th Anniversary.

Sue Butler won the competition in 2006 with her poem ‘Devaluation’ and has returned this year to adjudicate the competition.

Sue’s poems have appeared in the Independent on Sunday, the London Magazine and Poetry Review and she has recently won prizes in the Cardiff and National poetry competitions.

Sue said: ‘I was amazed at the imaginative way people wove the numbers into their poems. There was a dazzling array of subject matter and more than a few images so strong, so apt, that even now they stick in my head.’

A prize-giving ceremony for the winners was held at the Haddon Library, McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research on Friday (25 September).

The prize-giving ceremony was part of the University's Alumni Weekend.

There was a chance to hear some of the winning poetry, followed by refreshments and a tour of the Haddon Library.

To winning poems are available to view online at: http://haddon.archanth.cam.ac.uk/poetry/index.html

Haddon Librarian, Aiden Baker said: ‘The competition was the library's contribution to the University's 800th Anniversary celebrations. People sent us an extraordinary spread of thoughtful, inventive, and moving poems in response to that suggestion.’

The Haddon Library houses one of the country's leading collections of books in archaeology and anthropology. It was first brought together by anthropologist Alfred Haddon, and has been part of the University's library network since 1936.



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