The 17th Christopher Tower Poetry Competition, the UK’s most valuable prize for young poets, has opened for entries, and this year students between 16-18 years of age are challenged to write a poem (no more than 48 lines) on the theme of ‘Stone’. First prize £3,000; second prize £1,000 and third prize £500. Closing date 17/2/17. www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize
About Tower Poetry
Tower Poetry started in 2000 when a generous bequest to Christ Church, University of Oxford was made by the late Christopher Tower to stimulate an enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education, and to challenge people to write their own poetry.
Headed by the poet and academic, Peter McDonald (the first holder of the Christopher Tower Studentship and Tutorship in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford, and a Lecturer in the English Faculty of Oxford University) Tower Poetry runs a prestigious annual competition for 16-18 year olds in the UK on a set theme.
In addition residential Summer Schools are run for those between 18-23 (the 10th was held from 30 August-2 September 2016), which bring a number of students together and allow them to write their own poetry in a stimulating and enjoyable environment. Over ten titles have now been published as well as about 100 book reviews, poetry readings and other events.
Christopher Thomas Tower (1915-1998), came from a diplomatic family and was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (reading history from 1934-1937). At Eton he won numerous school prizes for poetry, English literature and allied subjects, and was a founder and first secretary of the Eton College Archaeological Society. These interests first took him to the Middle East where he studied Arabic and Persian. After holding a number of appointments in that area he retired from official life in order to be able to devote more time to his writing. A collection of the Tower family portraits is on view at the Ashridge Business School.
He wrote nine illustrated books of poetry, mainly of Persian and Arab legends – a first volume of verse in 1975 (Firuz of Isfahan published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson as were his subsequent titles); A Distant Fluting (1977); Oultre Jourdain (1980); Victoria the Good (1982); Arcesilayus at Tocra (1992).
He left a legacy of £5m to be used, by Christ Church, to endow two teaching posts: a Poetry Studentship and a tutorial fellowship, with an associated University Lecturership plus a Junior Research Fellowship in Greek mythology. The benefaction also funded the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize, an annual competition open to sixth-formers. This is the oration, delivered in 2005.