Teacher Wins Global Writing Prize

Catherine Swire

Catherine Swire, teacher of English at Worcester Sixth Form College, has been announced as the winner of this year’s ‘Best of the Bottom Drawer’ prize in the Black Spring Press Group global awards. The competition included entries from over 350 writers, poets and playwrights from around the world with the criteria that the submission must be a book previously felt too odd, eccentric, difficult or experimental to get a publishing deal.

Catherine’s book, a singular memoir titled ‘Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather’, addresses the trauma she faced after losing her sister Flora in the Lockerbie bombing and how raising chickens helped her through her grief.

Head judge, publisher Dr Todd Swift, says of the winning entry: “Swire’s book about trauma and loss in the context of the Lockerbie tragedy is magnificently tender – poetic, playful, erudite, and informative – it seems to generate its very own literary form – all the way reminding us of the power of memoir, to testify, inspire, and comfort.”

On her win Catherine says: “I am so grateful for this prize and to the Black Spring Press group for publishing Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather. My hope is that it helps others facing trauma and other thinkers and artists exploring the impact of sudden loss. The chickens in this book work as metaphors for terror and creation, but they are also, centrally, birds. I hope the book not only opens up thought in a difficult area (and in a culture that can often deride it) but also affirms the transformative agency of our bond with other creatures. Also, that it sometimes makes you smile.”

Catherine, whose poems were featured earlier this year on Radio 4’s Ramblings and at Ledbury Poetry Festival, leads the College’s Creative Writing enrichment in addition to her teaching of English. Ed Senior, Principal, said: “Catherine is an inspiration to the students involved in our Creative Writing enrichment. Her experience of being a published poet and now an award-winning author are invaluable to our young people in enthusing them to be creative and adventurous in their writing. Congratulations to Catherine on such a tremendous achievement and I look forward to reading Dozen: Ash, Flame, Feather when it is published next year”.