Guernsey Press

Stories of joy and heartbreak in Liberate writing competition

Local talent and the challenges and triumphs of the LGBT community were celebrated at the Liberate Channel Islands writing competition awards evening.

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At the back on Zoom, judges William Cameron, top, and Kit Heyam, bottom. Back row, left to right: Liberate CEO Ellie Jones and judges Sam Hearne and Daisy Chapple. Front: Christopher Pestana, winner of the over-18 category, and Emma Cunningham, Pippa McCathie Trophy winner. (Picture supplied)

The awards ceremony took place at Guille-Alles Library, where the shortlisted entries were on display before being judged by the expert panel.

There were three awards made on the night – over 18, under 18 and the Pippa McCathie Trophy.

Emma Cunningham was awarded the Pippa McCathie Trophy for her poem The Pin Badge.

‘I was chuffed to bits when I found out that I won the Pippa McCathie Trophy,’ she said.

‘I knew Pippa – we did a writing class together and in essence she was my teacher for a while.

‘She was very active in the community for many different things and she was such a supporter of Liberate.’

Ms Cunningham’s poem was about her own experience of being a parent of a child who is transgender.

Jersey-based Skye Crisp won the under-18 category with her poem Birth of the Eclipse.

‘When I heard the words “winner of the under-18s category” followed by my name, I was so shocked and proud at the same time, I could have cried,’ she said.

‘Daisy’s [Chapple, judge] comment on how my poem had moved her to tears touched my heart since I’ve never thought my writing would be good enough to win a competition or to make a person cry.

‘As for inspiration for my poem, my mother has always been the hippy type and it rubbed off on me ten-fold.’

She said that the sun and moon had always been her favourite abstract subjects.

‘I love reading anything that has imagery of the two of them in it, and typically the moon is associated with women,’ she said.

‘But I’ve personally always considered the sun a feminine icon too, and then I started to develop the idea that they were lesbian lovers who had been forcibly separated by “Hate”, and then the idea that eclipses were their only way of being together came along after the recent solar eclipse.’

Liberate CEO Ellie Jones said that the awards event was a lovely evening as stories were shared.

‘Each year we get more and more people entering which is great, and it was really lovely that two of our winners happened to be from Jersey this year,’ she said.

‘Hearing the differences in people’s stories and experiences has always been a really humbling part of the writing competition.

'We get to hear about joy, heartbreak and stories of affirmation and love.

‘And it really was a really close competition, the top four people in the over-18 category all had the same judges' mark, so they had a really challenging job picking the winners.

'And the three U18 shortlisted finalists were only separated by half a mark.’