To be placed in the National Poetry competition is such an achievement, and even more so for someone in their early twenties! The NPC is the biggest of its kind in the UK with a first place cash prize of £5000. There were over 17,800 poems submitted to this round of the competition from 8,112 poets from 103 countries worldwide.
The judges comment on Freya’s winning poem: “What begins as a theological debate develops into a recasting of God as a wild creature and it is this haunting image – the symbol of our spiritual longing as a beleaguered, lost and sorrowing creature – that lends the poem its emotional power and originality.
The speaker of the poem, by placing their faith – such as it is – in an endangered species on their bewildered migration, accentuates our need to have faith but the overwhelming odds stacked against it. How we simply find it hard to be – and do – good. How our actions that lead to the destruction of our planet and each other might also have a profound effect on our spirituality.
What makes this poem so compelling is how it shifts an intellectual argument into a living, suffering body, sounding a warning that old ways of thinking have failed, that even God has become merely the sad and damaged repository of our wilfulness and greed.”
The judges were Jason Allen-Paisant, Michael Symmons Roberts and Greta Stoddart. Congratulations to all placed and commended. To read all the winning poems, click here.
On behalf of Hive and all at Hive Poetry – congratulations Freya!
Top photo of Freya: Hayley Madden
Freya Bantiff is a poet and fiction writer from Sheffield. She has placed in a wide range of competitions including joint-first prize in the 2022 Bridport Poetry Prize (18-25s), and winning the Canterbury Poet of the Year Competition 2021, the Bedford Poetry Competition 2021, the Walter Swan Poetry Prize 2020 (18-25s) and the Timothy Corsellis Poetry Prize in 2017. Freya’s poems and stories have been placed in Dear Life anthology (Hive 2022), the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award (2021), Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition (2020), the Ilkley Literature Poetry Festival (2010–2015) and Foyle Young Poet of the Year (2015). Freya is a member of Hive Poetry and is currently studying an MA at UEA.