Renowned poet Brian Patten was guest of honour at the English Department’s annual prize giving on Monday 20 March 2017. 

Patten, one of the Liverpool poets who contributed to the epoch-making anthology The Mersey Sound, clearly relished reading and hearing the works shortlisted for three literary awards. 

The Poetry Prize was shared between Flik Feng, whose sensitive language choices captured the richness of everyday occurrences, and Ashwin Santosh Kumar, who used structure and surprise well in his verse about smoking.

The Wellbelove Prize, which is open to pupils in the first three years of the Upper School and requires boys to write an essay about a work of literature not studied within the curriculum, went to Emmanuel Adeyemi for an essay about George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.  His piece combined superb personal reflection with excellent textual analysis, just pipping several other strong entries.  It was a delight to welcome Mr and Mrs Wellbelove to present the award, which is named in memory of the son and Old Bedfordian Archie Wellbelove (01-12). They and the audience gathered in the school’s Langham Pavilion, enjoyed hearing each of the shortlisted boys talk about their essay.

The Fowles Prize was an extremely close affair, with four outstanding pieces of writing on the shortlist.  Each of the boys who spoke about their work did so engagingly and elegantly.  Angus Watson’s troubling short story ‘The Pact-Makers’ was awarded first prize.

The evening concluded with a hugely entertaining reading by Brian Patten. His verses took the audience on a journey through childhood, early love, later love and grief before he finished with a series of pitch-perfect poetic versions of amusing Arabic stories.  After the formalities, there was a chance for the boys to seek advice and encouragement from Patten; both were given with generosity, wit and passion.

This, then, was an evening when creativity, literary craftsmanship and the power of performance were celebrated in equal measure by a highly influential poet and some very promising apprentices.

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