2021 Julian Lennon Poetry Prize

Wendover resident and local writer Isabella Mead has won first prize of £1000 in the 2021 Julian Lennon Poetry Prize, judged by Julian Lennon and poets Sean Street and Jehane Markham.

The poem ‘Rwanda’ was written in response to a photograph that Isabella took whilst was living and working in a rural area of Rwanda in 2010-2012. The poem hints at the beauty of the stunning country, also named ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills.’ whilst also alluding to the complexities of the relationship of the country with Western world and the aid industry.

The Julian Lennon Poetry Prize was created in support of the White Feather Foundation, and which embraces environmental and humanitarian issues, and called for poems written in that vein. You can read more about the White Feather Foundation here, https://whitefeatherfoundation.com

You may read more about the The Julian Lennon Poetry Prize here: https://folklorepublishing.co.uk/the-julian-lennon-prize


The poem, and photograph that inspired the poem, are here:


Once in a while

a white Toyota

passes briskly through the village,

cuffing potholes.

Children run after

the red rearlights

through rising dust

then settle back

to sudden gleams

of fireflies

and the smile

of the moon.


About the poet:

Isabella Mead also won the Bedford International Poetry Prize (2020) and the Wells Festival of Literature Poetry Competition (2019), judged by Simon Armitage. She has been Highly Commended twice in the Bridport Prize (2016 and 2019), commended for the Cafe Writer’s Prize (2019), longlisted in the National Poetry Competition (2018), nominated for the Forward prize for best single poem (2013) and shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award (2009). Her work has been published in Magma, Mslexia and Envoi, and appears regularly in Poetry News. She holds a Masters in History of Art and is currently studying for a second BA in Language Studies. A former secondary English teacher in East London, she worked for two years training teachers in a rural area of Rwanda before working as Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford, through which she leads a vibrant team of oral storytellers and creative writers.