Writers have a winning way with words as Sunderland Stadium of Light hosts ceremony

Jack Boke the Sunderland winner in the Northumbrain Association 2011 Writers Competition who received their prize at Washington Old Hall, Washington.
Jack Boke the Sunderland winner in the Northumbrain Association 2011 Writers Competition who received their prize at Washington Old Hall, Washington.
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PROUD poets were honoured for their literary skills at a prestigious ceremony on Wearside.

Washington Old Hall was packed as the winners of the Echo-backed Northumbrian Association 2011 writing competition read their work and received their honours.

The competition asked entrants to pen poetry or prose on an iconic person, place or building from their area, and all three winners wowed the judges with their poems.

Jack Boke, 17, a St Aidan’s Sixth Form pupil, from Hendon, said: “It’s very satisfying to win. I write a lot and I entered the competition to try and bring my work to a wider audience.”

Jack, who has previously won other writing competitions, said he would like to write professionally one day.

His entry, Hendon: an Elegy or Seaward at Night, is a poem about his community and its hopes for the future.

Jack, who lives with mum Jane, said he had his gran Mavis Proctor – who took him for walks and told him about Sunderland’s history – to thank for much of his inspiration.

At last night’s ceremony, the winners were presented with iPads donated by Sunderland and Teesside Universities and the Gillian Dickinson Trust.

Echo editor Rob Lawson said: “We had over 500 entries and what impressed me was the quality of the writing. I think people have been really inspired by what it was they were writing about.”

The other winners were Gary Leach, 52, a highways strategy manager at Durham County Council and 11-year-old Ivo Freiesleben.

Gary impressed judges with his “Lament to Pierre” – a take on the infamous legend of his home town of Hartlepool’s hanged monkey.

He said: “I was very pleased to win, and to be judged by people and know what they were looking for.”

Ivo wrote a poem about Wolf Cleugh Falls. “I was very surprised and pleased to win,” said the home-educated youngster, who lives in Ninebanks, near Hexham, Northumberland, with dad Lawrence, an artist, mum Kirsten and sister Celeste, 13.

Northumbrian Association chairman John Danby said: “They were amazing, so good. The young people’s work was impressive.”

Hendon: an Elegy or Seaward at Night - By Jack Boke

I stand

And a cold wind blows

Making my skin dew and disturbing my hair

My nostrils and pores sting with salt

I stand looking


The stars obscured by an orange haze

The looming shape of distant cranes discernible

I think of the day of that has died

Of the activity and life

The cranes arc far distant

They belong to yesterday

It is night now

No Sun to warm the breeze

That cuts through skin and flesh

Like a welding torch extinguished

I lament the past

More innocent times!

We thought our bounty inexhaustible

We were mistaken

And yet sunrise is near

A new day will surely dawn

And we can return

To that which we mourn

We shall rebuild

Refresh and renew

As our ancestors would

if only they knew

We must forget yesterday

And always forge on

Ever towards

A Sunderland dawn

Enough of the twilight!

Enough of the death!

Let’s do what’s right,

And not dwell on what’s left

Yet the past still echoes like a shipyard bell!

Jack Boke