2022’s Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Online Awards
Monday 17 October 2022, 6.00pm — 10.10pm
At 6pm this evening (17th October), Fiona Sampson will reveal the winners of the Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Writing Prizes. You can watch Fiona announce the winning poems and essays in the video above.
2022's theme was 'Elegy'. As the Oxford Handbook of the Elegy reminds us, “for all its pervasiveness… the elegy remains remarkably ill defined”. Its wider use takes in any serious, meditative subject.
The more restricted use as a lament for the dead or for a tragic event is relatively modern. In the ancient world too it covered not just death but love and war while Catullus and Ovid were leading exponents of the elegy as a poem of mourning.
In English literature the most famous elegy is Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’ while Continental elegy writing is perhaps best exemplified by Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’ full of mysticism and symbolism and hugely influential with many 20th Century poets.
For lovers of Keats and Shelley of course, THE paramount elegy is Shelley’s pastoral ‘Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats’, written in 1821. Shelley believed that Keats’ death was partly attributable to unfair and harsh reviews of his work by an anonymous reviewer who is accordingly rebuked in the poem.
But the poem argues that it is not Keats who is dead- he is ‘made one with Nature’- but the living.
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep
He hath awakened from the dream of life
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
Adonais concludes with the poet urging himself to depart from life:
Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?
Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here
They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!
Within a year, Shelley himself was dead, drowned in the Gulf of Poets off La Spezia.
We have been hugely impressed by the size and quality of this year’s prize entries who have captured so many salient aspects of the elegy. As Fiona Sampson, our Prize Chair put it, “It’s a great pleasure to see this year’s theme being addressed with such seriousness, and to see so much of the wider Romantic tradition coming through in the poems and essays.
I’d like to extend the deepest thanks to Fiona Sampson and our panel of Judges: Professor Deryn Rees-Jones and Will Kemp for the Poetry Prize; Professor Sharon Ruston and Professor Simon Bainbridge for the Essay Prize.
We also want to acknowledge the very generous support of the following sponsors of 2022’s Young Romantics Prize:
British Italian Society
D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
John S. Cohen Foundation
Michael Marks Charitable Trust
PF Charitable Trust
Tedworth Charitable Trust
Finally, can we thank everyone who entered the Prizes this year, whether in poetry or prose.