Receptionist at GP surgery wins poetry prize

Tom Horton
Thursday 10 June 2021 08:55
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Hay Festival 2015 – Hay-On-Wye(PA Archive)

An actress-turned GP surgery receptionist has won a prize in a poetry competition celebrating the UK’s key workers.

Gemma Barnett was awarded the spoken word prize at the first ever Poetry for Good awards.

She started working at the surgery after finding herself out of work last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In her poem The Front Desk, she pays tribute to her “empathetic, gutsy, blunt, charming and hilarious colleagues”, according to the organisers of the awards.

Hay Festival 2015 – Hay-On-Wye(PA Archive)

There were nearly 500 submissions for the awards.

Criminal defence barrister trainee Violet Smart won the written word prize for a poem written in English and Spanish.

The poem was inspired by a cleaner who worked at her university.

Jacinta-Maria Ifeoluwapo Chidiebere Wajero, 15, took home the growing word award for a poem comparing key workers to oxygen.

Katherine Lockton, a poet who was on the judging panel, said: “I was impressed by the sheer number of poems that were submitted and the quality of the entries.

“The standard was incredible and it was clear that people had invested a vast amount of energy and creativity in their submissions.

“It was also clear how much they appreciated and loved key workers.

“They celebrated everyone from cleaners to nurses and shop keepers.

“There was everything from free verse, rhymed poems to villanelles.

“It was clear that a lot of talented writers had submitted.”

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