Jo Kjaer – 2007
Jo Kjaer first visited Norfolk in 1948 when she was five, after living in other parts of eastern England she settled here in the 1990’s. During a varied career as designer, restaurateur, nutritionist, tutor, educational advisor and aid worker, articles on the history of food and special diets were published in magazines including Harpers & Queen, The Tatler and The Nutrition Practitioner.
In 2007, she gained a first in the Advanced Poetry Diploma at the University of East Anglia and won the first Café Writers Norfolk Poetry Commission: As the Crow Flies is her first collection. She teaches Creative Writing for the National Extension College and is working towards a second collection inspired by the landscape and history of Norfolk. You can buy it here.
Meirion Jordan – 2008
Meirion’s inspiration for the commission comes from exploring and responding to the role of outsiders in Norwich, from its beginnings as a Saxon settlement in post-Roman Britain, through to the modern city as home to as substantial international student population. Taking its direction from the museum of the same name, Strangers Hall, in the city centre, the poems are intended to represent the rooms in the house, each from a different period of time and connected to the next in loose chronological sequence but, like any house, in no way insulated from the other rooms whose inhabitants have no quite faded our of earshot. Merion’s poems are intended to provoke engagement on a personal level with the history for the reader and to bring the reader forward through their sequence into a present both recognizable and new.
The winning of this substantial award reconnects Meirion with Norwich where he graduated from the UEA Creative Writing MA in 2008. Born in Cwmllynfell, near Swansea, he went on to read mathematics at Somerville College, Oxford. His first collection of poetry entitled ‘Moonrise’ is published by Seren in October 2008. You can buy it here
Laura Elliott – 2009
Promising young poet Laura Elliott 21, was announced the winner of the first Café Writers Norfolk Graduate Commission in 2009. Also included in the award is publication of a poetry pamphlet by Gatehouse Press and the chance to read at Café Writers and the Poetry-Next-the-Sea festival. Laura’s poetry will explore the links between Norwich and its Serbian twin city Novi Sad – represented in the City by the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge; the swing bridge which links King Street to the Riverside Development across the River Wensum. The Novi Sad Association have also just awarded her a travel bursary to help pay for a research trip to Serbia.
Laura, who graduated with a first class degree from the BA in Creative Writing at Norwich University College of the Arts said: “I am still in shock! but am looking forward to exploring the relationship between Norwich and Novi Sad, and also exploring Norwich in more creative depth”.
Laura is on the editorial team at Lighthouse.
Angus Sinclair – 2010
Promising young poet Angus Sinclair 23, was announced the winner of the fourth Café Writers Norfolk Graduate Commission. Also included in the award is publication of a poetry pamphlet by Gatehouse Press and the chance to read at Café Writers and the Poetry- Next-the-Sea festival. Angus, who is also professional wrestler Johnny Snott, will write a collection of poems based around the theme of wrestling in Norfolk. The sport has a rich history in the county from Lord Nelson and his sailors grappling at The Wrestlers Inn in Great Yarmouth to the present day World Association of Wrestling (http://wawuk.com/) which brings the sport to local community centres and village halls.
Angus, who has graduated in 2009 with a first class degree from the BA in Creative Writing at Norwich University College of the Arts and has just embarked on the UEA’s MA in Poetry said: “I am overwhelmed to have won and delighted to have the opportunity and so much support in writing about a sport I care so much about.”
His more recent work centres around questions of our image-world, often incorporating photography as a theme. Some of these poems can be seen in UEA 17 Poets (Eggbox) and Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe).