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Double Success for Oriel Students in 2022 Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition

The Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition invites undergraduate students from Oxford and Cambridge colleges to submit a Petrarchan sonnet on a theme or topic of their choosing. The prize is awarded each year in honour of Eugene Lee-Hamilton, a poet and novelist who studied at Oriel (1864-66) and revived the use of Petrarchan Sonnets in his own work, as well as encouraging it in others. The poetry competition prize was founded by the late Mrs Eliza Ann Lee-Hamilton by bequest in 1943, in order to encourage the composition of the Petrarchan sonnet in Oxford and Cambridge.

Siddiq Islam’s winning sonnet is called Colourblind, and runner-up Cameron Nicholls-Iggulden’s sonnet is titled As I Looked Out Across a Raging Sea.

You can read both poems below:

Explaining the meaning of his sonnet and the inspiration behind it, Siddiq said:

“This poem describes insecurities and fears that are often on my mind. As an ethnic minority, there is a contrast between how life is lived at home and what one experiences outside, and there are differences between the experiences of every generation of an immigrant family. One can struggle to cling onto the culture of a country one doesn’t live in and will inevitably end up stretched and confused – and this is on top of the usual stress of trying to define one’s identity whilst becoming an adult. I think that you cannot handle two entire cultural identities, but rather have to form a new one out of a mixture of them both.

I have been interested in poems since I was little. My mother and sister used to read them to me at bedtime. This is why some of my favourite poets are children’s poets whom I haven’t grown out of yet. Dr Seuss is a genius and my absolute favourite.

I try to keep up poetry-writing at uni when I get time. I like doing non-mathsy things because I want to maintain a creative side and be able to express myself without the use of equations. It would be a dream to one day to publish an anthology or a longer piece. I have a lot of unfinished poems as notes on my phone, so I enjoy trying to submit to student magazines because the deadlines encourage me to complete them.”

A very well done to Siddiq and Cameron for their success in this year’s competition – it is the first time in recent memory we have had two winners from Oriel and we hope this inspires other budding poets to take part next year.