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Father’s death inspires winning poet

UCLan lecturer receives Northern Writer’s Award

A University lecturer has won a national poetry prize for her work, which was inspired by the life and death of her mountaineer father.

Dr Yvonne Reddick, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), has received a Northern Writer’s Award for her poetry project ‘Translating Mountains’.

When her father died while hiking in the Scottish Highlands in 2015, Yvonne turned to poetry to explore why mountaineers are fascinated by the heights. Her award-winning poetry takes readers on a journey through Scotland’s highest peaks, tackling the themes of risk, adventure and grief.

She said: “I’m delighted and honoured that my work has been chosen as a winning entry in the Northern Writers’ Awards. This is great news for UCLan and for literature in Preston. The poems about mountaineering are a very appropriate tribute to my father, and I know that he would be proud.”

I’m delighted and honoured that my work has been chosen as a winning entry in the Northern Writers’ Awards. This is great news for UCLan and for literature in Preston.

Yvonne, from Preston, is an academic expert on poetry, landscape and the environment, especially the work of Ted Hughes. Her winning submission also contains poems that reveal previously untold stories about Hughes’s life. They show how he acquired the skin of a Guyanese leopard, why he had a blackout on the anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s death, and respond poetically to his sketches, diaries and collection of animal skulls.

Judge Patience Agbabi praised her winning work. She said: “This poet had the skill to make private grief into a shared human experience. I was moved. This opening section had a strong sense of place and pastime, the language was very much embedded in the landscape. But it was the middle section, Trying to Be Fox, that totally seduced me. Ted Hughes is given the role of male muse behind these clever, mischievous poems inspired by meticulous research into previously unseen archives. Poets will love this.”

On the strength of the Northern Writer’s Award, Yvonne has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2017. This writing fellowship will enable her to spend a month at Hawthornden Castle, near Edinburgh, immersing herself in the landscapes that captivated her father and researching the lives of mountaineers such as Hugh Munro, William Hutchison Murray and Nan Shepherd.


Dr Yvonne Reddick, who has won a Northern Writer’s Award for poetry inspired by the death of her father.

This poet had the skill to make private grief into a shared human experience. I was moved. This opening section had a strong sense of place and pastime, the language was very much embedded in the landscape.

Yvonne will spend the next year working with New Writing North to develop a debut poetry collection with help from a mentor. She will publish a selection of her poems in an anthology of the winners’ work.

Established in 2000 by New Writing North, the Northern Writers’ Awards are the North’s premiere talent development scheme for writers. The awards support new, emerging and established authors to develop their work towards publication and to progress their careers as writers. The awards support writers of poetry, and all genres of fiction and children’s fiction. The Awards are supported by Northumbria University and the Arts Council.

2016 has been a great year for Preston writers, with Prestonian Libby Carpenter also winning a New Fiction Bursary at the Northern Writers’ Awards.

Rachel Atkinson | 27 October 2016