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Chester Cathedral Young Poet Competition

Chester Cathedral, and Cathedral Poet In Residence, Julia McGuinness are delighted to announce the winners of our Young People’s Poetry Competition in celebration of our 2020 theme of Journeys, for the national Year of Pilgrimage.

And the winners are…

First Place in the category 16 – 18 years, is: Tesni Penney, with ‘The Falcon’s Flight’, whilst, First Place in the category 19 – 25 years, is: Lucy Thynne, with ‘Train ride from Barcelona.’  Congratulations to both from the Cathedral community.

You may read both winning pieces below.

Chester Cathedral Young Poet Competition booklet

Winning pieces, along with second, third and commended can be read in the competition’s digital booklet here – available to download here.

Chester Cathedral Young Poet – Winner’s Zoom Reading

On Wednesday 20 May, we gathered many of the winners together on Zoom – in lieu of a Prize-giving Ceremony, to reflect on their creations, and hear them first-hand.  Watch the Zoom Reading here.

The Falcon’s Flight

by Tesni Penney

Gliding high above you, I see everything with my ubiquity.
I see every pigeon seeking shelter from my glistening talons, every potential nesting site,
every camera lens waiting for the perfect moment to capture my beauty, wanting to
preserve me forever in artwork so, in centuries to come, others can marvel at me too.

I am aware of it all.

A thin breeze ruffles its way through my finely barred breast feathers,
whistling quietly past my clenched talons as the swirling clouds
embrace my body and part pleasantly to allow my safe passage.

Below my three-foot wingspan, the distant laughter of children
reverberates off the walls of the city that keeps them safe as cars rumble past,
drawing their route across the earth with intricate turns forming a great, elaborate mandala.
Nature has her equivalent in the rich, verdant patchwork of fields that have been rolled out
like a rug beneath the vast, blue sky over my hunting ground a few miles away.

But I am far from those fields now, my iridescent body soars above the city whose fingers
stretch out over the land, sprawling almost to the horizon,
mapping the ages with its display of varying architecture.

I scope it out, checking for any unwelcome newness in the the bricks,
stone and glass that are juxtaposed in a finely orchestrated pattern, one
that can be seen only if you know where to look…
But nothing is as it shouldn’t be, all is well and there’s only one building I’m interested in.

There she is: my welcoming friend,
a sight for sore eyes after a day of hunting,

Standing proud amongst her companions, her
spired crown glints happily in the daylight, beckoning me closer.
I relax, cease to move and plummet with certainty towards my target.

An unseen assassin, I swoop in,
landing to greet my family with a clutch and a crop full of prey.
Puffing my chest with pride, I am truly content here.
Honoured, loved and protected,
I am the peregrine falcon of York Minster.


Train ride from Barcelona

by Lucy Thynne

To know that all of this could one day
be empty. The trees outside, glitching
into blurs of green, the same day opening

itself up to everyone at dawn. Like a regalo,
you would say. Like a fist unclosing,
releasing all the anger it has lost. Watching you

watching the outside is how I want to spend
the rest of my days, I decide: slipping in and out
of sleep on a train, its shadow running along

beside us. The same movements of an animal,
desperate for love. The sky spread around
the carriage as if it were a piece of cloth

we were born in, and the wind, bending
to kiss the head of the earth like a son
it once loved. Listen: my tiredness is also

your tiredness, and it hangs here between us
like a carcass of jamón. Later, when the
stars arrive to pinprick the dark, I dream of the city

we left behind; the women carrying fruit
by the side of the tracks; the insect bites
swollen red, dotted along our skin like rain.