Thursday 18 May will mark National Memory Day, part of Dementia Awareness Week and a celebration of the power of the written and spoken word for those with and affected by dementia.
National Memory Day was launched in June of last year by a partnership of Literature Works, the University of Plymouth, Alzheimer’s Society and The Poetry Archive, with a writing competition at its heart. The competition has four categories: Best Poem (sponsored by the National Memory Day Partnership); Best Short Story (sponsored by Literature Works); Best Young Writer (sponsored by the University of Plymouth); and Best Primary Carer (sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Society).
In all, 1341 entries were received with an international reach from across the continents. Within the shortlists there are entries from the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago.
Former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, will choose the winner from the Best Poem shortlist. He said:
“Congratulations to all the shortlisted poets; overall, the standard is very good.”
Tracey Guiry, Director of the Poetry Archive, added:
“The poems people sent to us demonstrated an incredibly inventive range of responses to our theme of 'Memory'. From the very personal to the ubiquitous the poems reflected experiences which we can all relate to at some point and I hope everyone who submitted an entry will continue to write and enjoy poetry."
The winner of the Best Short Story category will be chosen by Cathy Galvin, Director of The Word Factory and co-founder of The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. Speaking of the quality of entries in this category Dr Lucy Durneen, writer and editor of the literary journal “Short fiction” and Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Plymouth, said:
“The range of stories prompted by the theme of 'Memory' was extraordinary and I was impressed by the writing talent displayed right across the field.”
Open to entrants between the ages of 15 and 18, the Best Young Writer winner will be chosen by Jamie Edgecombe, Literature Works-sponsored Writer in Residence at the University of Plymouth. Michelle Phillips from Literature Works helped compile the shortlist in this category. She commented:
“All the submissions for this category were of a high standard. This shortlist demonstrates a wide range of approaches to the theme of memory and showcases some startlingly poignant young voices writing on a subject which has been handled with incredible subtlety and awareness.”
The Best Primary Carer category gave writers who directly care for a loved one with dementia an opportunity to voice their experiences. The winner will be chosen by Keith Oliver, a retired head teacher and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador.
The winners of the National Memory Day writing competition categories will be announced on 18 May.
The Shortlists (in alphabetical name order)
Best Poem (sponsored by the National Memory Day Partnership)
Letter Home, 1920 by Sharon Black
Elgin Crescent by Ruth Blaug
Mmm…. by Claire Grace Coleman
Miner’s Spoons by Lindsay Fursland
Dunwich 1973 by Janet Lees
Unspoken by Jane Lovell
Atlantic Palimpsest by Kerri Nt Dochartaigh
Evacuation Recalled by Alwyn Marriage
The Fig Tree by Judy O Kane
Thermocoupling by Angela Platt
Best Short Story (sponsored by Literature Works)
All that water must be unimaginably heavy by Angelita Bradney
You’re Here Because the Daffodils have Failed by Robin James Canderton
Fear of Drowning by Dorothy Cornish
Autotruck by Mark Dixon
Pim by Katherine Ember
The Making of a Memory by Krystian Lamb
The Dam by Beverley Maloney
Memories by Helen Morris
The Graveyard for Words by Adrian Wakeling
Shutdown by Gordon Williams
Best Young Writer (sponsored by the University of Plymouth)
Overthinker by Emily Breeds
The Memory Thief by Caitlin Corcoran
I can’t remember by Hannah Hodgson
Blind Sight by Annabel Robertson
The Pilgrimage of a Broken Heart by Emily Smith
Best Primary Carer (sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Society)
Pleasant View by Nicholas McGaughey
For All Time by Donna McLuskie
Folding and Unfolding by Gail Henegan
It’s Seven letters You Need by Maxine Backus
The Inner Song by Sarah Veness