This summer the Friends of Cator and Alexandra held a Poetry in the Park event to celebrate the launch of London as a National Park City. This was one third of a long weekend of events which included an enhanced version of our annual Music in the Park and another special — Physicality in the Park. All were successful despite the unseasonal weather.
The weekend was organised overall by Millie Knights, Acting Chair, and Helen Parker, Secretary, who liaised closely with the National Park City team. Chris O’Shaughnessy, ‘resting’ Chair, assisted with the Poetry in the Park event by co-organising a Poetry Competition on behalf of Penge Poets, helping with the judging and delivery of the event in Alexandra Recreation Ground. Penge Poets also financed the first prize of £50. Over thirty attended the event on the evening of Friday July 26, including the prize winners.
Entrants were to write a poem on ‘Nature’, treating the topic as freely as they wished. All the poems entered were of a high standard, with various approaches taken to the theme. Bernice Carter won first prize for her poem Cator Park, Foster Murphy won second prize with his poem Snow Talk and Danny Turze won third prize with his poem The Nature of Nature. A special prize was awarded to seven-year old Sullivan Whitney for his poem Save Nature.
In the adjudicators’ report, Bernice Carter’s poem impressed the judges ‘with its simplicity of structure in four unrhyming quatrains, its sparseness of language, apt imagery—‘nature forming an emerald blanket of protection’—and deeply-felt controlled emotion. The ending was particularly poignant. It was also good to find a really competent poem about a local park!’ As the judges said: ‘This lovely poem evokes the healing aspects of green spaces so well and shows how a visit to a local park can also be a truly nostalgic experience.’
The judges had this to say about Sullivan Whitney’s poem: ‘The sheer youthfulness of this lovely poem is reminiscent of John Keats’s early poetry written in Devon: e.g. Dawlish Fair. The ecological message is spelled out simply: ‘Be good to nature, it’s great fun. / Save our planet everyone!’ The judges hoped that Sullivan would continue to write poetry as there was real promise in his writing.
The National Park City Team commended the Friends on their idea of celebrating the parks in poetry. We are sure you’ll agree the poems Cator Park and Save Nature do just that.
Cator Park by Bernice Carter
Heart thumping, eyes open,
I run through the green vastness.
Light glinting through the trees,
Shadows and shapes flicker and catch my eye.
A flap of wings, a snap of a twig;
Nature forming an emerald blanket of protection.
Breathing in this heavenly sight
Like it was my last breath.
The push of a swing, the kick of a ball,
The sound of laughter evokes distant memories of days gone by.
A bench, a reminder;
A friend taken too early.
And then stillness.
Heart slows down, a trickle of a tear.
Beautiful memories held in nature’s own locket.
The park that keeps them near.
Save Nature by Sullivan Whitney (age 7)
A dangling spider on a stringy web,
little bugs flying round my head,
pretty flowers with visiting bees,
grass tickling all around my knees.
I love to roll and I love to play,
I have some really happy days
but when I see you drop your litter,
I feel sad, I get bitter.
So put your rubbish in a bin,
recycle paper, re-use a tin,
be good to nature it’s great fun,
save our planet, everyone!