Poetic hairdresser scoops top prize

Rosemary Shatliff (second left seated) collects the Maureen Crisp Memorial Poetry prize at this year's Byron Festival.
Rosemary Shatliff (second left seated) collects the Maureen Crisp Memorial Poetry prize at this year's Byron Festival.
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A former hairdresser has won the Maureen Crisp Memorial Poetry prize at this year’s Byron Festival in Hucknall.

Rosemary Shatliff’s poem ‘Byron, Napoleon and Waterloo’ edged out the other contenders in this year’s poetic race to pick up a certificate and a trophy as well as a cheque for £25.

Rosemary, 68, of Chapel Street in Nuncargate, said: “I have always written poetry since being at junior school. I find that if something is troubling me - if I write about it, it’s a way of getting rid of stress.”

Now retired, Rosemary did her apprenticeship in Kirkby and worked at several shops in the area before going mobile.

She has published a collection of her work, entitled ‘From The Heart With Soul’, and sold copies at craft fairs. She also writes a monthly poem for the parish magazine at All Saints Church in Annesley, where she is church warden.

The Byron Festival award is her first win, after being picked as a runner-up in a DH Lawrence competition and taking third place in a national Mansfield Building Society competition.

She said: “I do like Byron because he is a romantic poet and I tend to be a bit that way as well. I do like rhyming poetry and I do like to have a rhythm. My favourite poems are “So, we’ll go no more a roving” by Byron, and “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by W.B. Yeats.

Rosemary credits the musical influence of her father, grandfather and great-grandfather on her work as a poet. All three men were organists at Kirkby Woodhouse Baptist Church and between them played there for an uninterrupted 150 years. She also acknowledges the early encouragement of a secondary school teacher who was appropriately called Miss Wright.

Festival chairman Ken Purslow said: “This poem is brilliant - and so was the runner up, a lady called Mary White, of Mansfield, won second place last year.”

Next year’s competition theme will be Byron the Traveller - to mark the 200th anniversary of his exile from the UK.

Possibly the best known of the romantic poets, Lord George Byron (1788-1824), inherited Newstead Abbey at the age of ten and lived there at various times until 1814.