The Walter Swan Trust Poetry Prize

The Walter Swan Trust is delighted to be sponsoring the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Competition.

Walter died very suddenly and unexpectedly in April 2014 at the age of 59. The Trust was established in 2014 (and launched at the Festival that year) to promote creative writing and to provide opportunities to new writers, as well as celebrating his memory.

Walter was passionate about writing and encouraging others to be creative, which he did throughout his life and particularly through his teaching and directing. He wrote poetry, plays, screenplays, short stories and also wrote regular articles as a freelance journalist, particularly with the Yorkshire Post. He published three non-fiction books.

At the Ilkley Playhouse, Walter was the Artistic Director for several years as well as regularly acting and directing. He went on to become the Playhouse’s first manager with an ambition to broaden its range of activities and work towards it becoming a community arts hub. In this time, he cemented the relationship between the Festival and the Playhouse, as well as being a regular interviewer and presenter at the Festival.

Walter was a talented poet who wrote powerful poetry from a young age. He was a member of the Wharfedale Poets, a group of local writers. Drystone Lines, an anthology of their work, was launched at Ilkley Literature Festival in 2014. Some of Walter’s poems (and photographs) are featured and the book is dedicated to his memory. Some of his poems can be read on the Trust’s website.

This poetry prize is a great opportunity for poets to have their work reviewed by fellow poets (drawn from the Wharfedale Poets) and the short-listed poems will be considered by the excellent Andrew McMillan in his role as Festival Poet in Residence. The performance evening of winning poems (and short stories) in October will be a celebration of the best of new creative writing. Alongside the 2016 poetry competition, the Trust is planning to publish a book of Walter’s own poems, which will be launched at the same time as the winning poems are announced.

At the 2015 Ilkley Literature Festival, the first memorial Walter Swan Trust lecture was given by Nick Ahad, writer, journalist and broadcaster. A second lecture is being planned for the 2016 Festival and will be announced shortly. 2015 also saw the first very successful Walter Swan Trust playwriting competition which was run in conjunction with West Yorkshire Playhouse and Ilkley Playhouse and will be repeated in 2017.

More information about Walter and his life and writing can be found on the Walter Swan Trust website.

Niccola Swan, Chair, Walter Swan Trust