Oriel Undergraduate Dominic Hand Wins University’s Newdigate Prize for Poetry

  • Aerial Image of Palmyra
    An aerial image of Palmyra
7 June, 2017

Third year English undergraduate Dominic Hand has been named as the winner of the University's prestigious Sir Roger Newdigate Prize for Poetry for the 2016-17 academic year.

Dominic, who also won Oriel's Eugene Lee-Hamilton sonnet competition in 2015, was awarded the prize for his composition Borderlines.

The Newdigate Prize was established in 1806 in memory of English politician Sir Roger Newdigate and is awarded for the best composition in English verse submitted by an undergraduate of the University of Oxford. The prize is awarded annually, provided there is an entry of sufficient merit, and each year a theme is supplied for authors to write on. This year's theme was 'flight', and it was up to the entrants to place their own interpretation on this broad theme.

Dominic explains how he interpreted the theme, and the inspiration for his poem Borderlines:

"The refugee crisis in Syria demands more than commentary or a reception of facts; it demands a re-evaluation of ways of seeing and viewing others. Borderlines is engaged with the history of nomadic culture, particularly Bedouin culture and song, and the problems and ethical horizons of viewing this from a Western perspective. The poem employs some unique structures and styles of Bedouin song, and seeks a more active participation in Arabic culture. It is concerned with ideas of deterritorialization in light of a refugee crisis – of a nomadic people in constant flight, and wandering without homeland. I hope this poem gives, as best it can, some active sense of hope; not just some consolation in the midst of cruelty, but an incentive to change the ways we approach a people with a history of displacement."

The Newdigate Prize has a prestigious history, and previous winners include John Ruskin, Oscar Wilde, Matthew Arnold, John Buchan and, more recently, Booker Prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst and former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.