Sylvie Bräunig began by thanking us for choosing her to judge our poems. She had felt some initial trepidation in accepting the task but did so as she felt that it was important to extend one’s comfort zone.
She explained that her interest in poetry had begun in her youth but she had not written any at that time. She then taught in primary schools and began to develop a strong interest in words and language. This led to a post with responsibility for language and reading development. She also became involved in several poetry ventures with an educational aspect that included well-regarded poets such as Vernon Scannell.
When her marriage broke up, poetry became a personal medium for self-expression. In attempting to learn more about the craft she eventually met Andy Croft and attended his writing courses. Along with members of her family, he encouraged her to share her work with a wider audience. This resulted in the publication of two volumes of poetry, any profits from which are donated to local libraries.
Sylvie had been impressed with the wide range of work submitted to her and remarked on the differences in subject, style and scope. She commented on each poem in detail, focusing on what she felt had commended it to her. She also gave us her personal reactions to each poem as well as the questions it had provoked in her.
She had enjoyed the research that had arisen from some of the pieces, which had made the experience even more rewarding for her.
From the twelve entries, Sylvie awarded Sheila Whitfield first place with Kate Swann and Solvig Choi joint second.
Sylvie, invited to read some of her own poems, chose ‘Slipstream’, ‘Memory Bites’ and ‘Breaking out’.
To conclude the evening, Ian thanked Sylvie once again for her adjudication, into which she had very obviously put a great deal of thought.