Heidi Williamson wins Plough International Poetry Prize

Heidi Williamson wins Plough International Poetry Prize


In her twenties, Heidi was part of a Scottish community that suffered an inconceivable tragedy, the Dunblane Primary School shooting. Those years living in the town form the focus of her third poetry collection Return by Minor Road, published by Bloodaxe on 25 June 2020.

‘This is a book of remembrance, of trauma and grief, but also one of hope, healing and consolation… Return by Minor Road feels like a major achievement. Brilliantly constructed, each poem feels complete in itself, while contributing to a greater whole… A work of vivid phrase-making and lyrical empathy, it is by turns, a celebration of our spirit, a forensic examination of the soul, and a warning of the darkness that lives at the edges of our lives.’ – Christopher James

Read the full review on Christopher James' blog here.


In May 2020 Heidi Williamson won the 2019 Plough International Poetry Prize for ‘With a rootless lily held in front of him’, a poem from Return by Minor Road

Judge Greta Stoddart writes of the winning poem:

‘What I love most about this poem is what it doesn’t say. Although there is great clarity in the language – the syntax is sure and measured, the diction restrained – there is at the heart of the poem a mystery: who is this man? why is he holding the lily? what does the lily signify?

The scene is simply and vividly evoked and the controlled tone creates a powerful tension that lends itself brilliantly to the unexplained central image. An image that seems to resonate in my mind offering up powerful themes of identity, punishment, humiliation, sanctitude.

The poem has had the courage to leave out the basic tenets of explication – the who, where, when and why – but has responded fully to the important question of what. So the what – this strange and lonely procession – is beautifully described, allowing the reader space in which to watch and wonder. The lines in their subtle directness hint and suggest but ultimately do not explain. In this way the poem becomes larger than the single event it appears to be describing and touches on, and takes in, other moments in our history.’

More on the 2019 Plough International Poetry Prize here.


Heidi Williamson reading her Plough Prize-winning poem from Return by Minor Road  (Bloodaxe Books, June 2020)

[24 June 2020]

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