The winner of the 2017 Ledbury Poetry competition's adult category, Jonathan Greenhause from Jersey City is the third US poet in a row

to win the first prize of £1000 plus a week-long residential writing course at T? Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales. Greenhause’s winning poem ‘The fire-escape, no longer weighed down’, is described by judge Fiona Sampson as “a vividly ambitious poem, yet also one which is completely accessible and which deals with an important, immediate subject. Its language is living and completely contemporary, but at the same time timeless and full of gravity.”

Now in its 21st year, the Ledbury Poetry Competition has proved an important and influential first is step in many poets’ careers. Previous winners include Jacqueline Saphra, Jonathan Edwards, Maitreyabandhu and 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize winner Jacob Polley who felt that “winning the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2001 gave me a huge boost…pushed me forward, towards more poems, my first book and beyond.”

On the inspiration for his winning poem Greenhause says: “the previous year, an immense building burnt down just two doors from us, and it seemed quite possible our home would go up in smoke. This poem is a meditation upon how ephemeral our time is and how easily what we hold most precious can be reduced to nothing.” Greenhause adds “winning the Ledbury Poetry Competition is the happiest I’ve felt as a poet in terms of peer recognition.”

Second and third places in the Adult category were awarded respectively to Work by Anna Woodford and Nana Says by Dana Alsamsam. In the Young People category for 12-18 year olds, Eloise Unerman won first prize with 04:52 to Bristol. Joe Dreyer won the first prize in the category for children aged 11 and under with Havoc Rain, inspired by Ted Hughes’ poem Wind.

All the 2017 winners will be performing at a special Ledbury Poetry Competition event hosted by Fiona Sampson at Ledbury Poetry Festival next year.