Poet and novelist Helen Dunmore has won the £5,000 first prize in the National Poetry Competition with The Malarkey, having entered at the last minute "on an impulse".
You sometimes hear the view that poets who have "made it" shouldn't be entering competitions like this, that they should be reserved for bringing new poets to wider attention. I don't have a problem with it at all - I'd imagine very few poets or novelists in the UK have "made it" to the extent that they can afford to ignore the possibility of a £5,000 prize. And anyway, surely all entrants want to compete against the best.
That said, I was a bit dismayed by the comment from Ruth Padel that when they discovered who it was by, they "threw their hats in the air". It makes it sound as if they wouldn't have been just as pleased if it had been by a complete unknown (I'm sure that's not what she meant, but it doesn't sound good).
But anyway, I like the look of what I've read of the shortlisted poems so far, especially those by Jon Stone, Ian Pindar and Sam Riviere. It looks like a really strong, energetic list to me. The winner itself is growing on me too, although I think it does err on the side of being a bit too prosey in parts.