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     Fergal McNally 

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Congratulations to the winner of The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2020!


‘Like all of us, I spend more of my life than I’d like to reading emails. Recently I opened one from The Caterpillar. Now all I want to do is write something that could make a reader feel half as happy as reading that email made me.’ Fergal McNally

This year’s judge, 'patron saint of poetry' Roger McGough, admitted recently to having entered a poem into the prize himself a number of years ago but gotten nowhere. ‘So I am a very sympathetic judge.’ The poem that Roger has chosen is Fergal McNally’s ‘The Zebra with the Leopardskin Pants’.

‘I knew I was in good hands when I set off on the journey with a zebra who felt like an outsider in his community, through no fault of his own. There was a happy conclusion to the poem that will appeal to any young reader who may sometimes feel out-of-step with the world. Should we need it, there is a Zaggeldy Creek waiting somewhere for all of us.’ Roger McGough
 
Fergal McNally, who is from Co. Meath in Ireland, is The Caterpillar Poetry Prize’s first Irish winner in six years. McNally completed an MA in Creative Writing in NUI Galway in 2006. ‘I learned as much about the craft as I was capable of understanding at the time,’ he says. ‘Since then I’ve earned my living as a TEFL teacher, explaining words for cash by day and writing them for love by night. I’ve been drifting around for a while, scribbling my stories over café tables in Taiwan, Portugal, Poland, Spain and Italy. At the moment I’m mainly working on fairy tales, struggling through the complicated process of trying to keep it simple. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a nursery rhyme will emerge. I’ve no idea where any of it comes from. It seems to me that if you fill your head with enough books eventually you’ll find a book of your own growing in there among the rest.’
 
The winning poem is published in the summer issue of The Caterpillar. You can read all about it in the Irish Times 
 
The following were also commended by the judge Roger McGough: 

Snakes and Ladders by Brian Cooke
Brian Cooke lives in Dublin and is married to Anne-Marie and the father of four grown-up children. He retired last year from his job in finance and plans to spend more time on creative pursuits. He has always written and drawn, especially poetry for his children. He was also a freelance angling journalist for over twenty years and is a qualified angling coach with the Sports Council of Ireland.
Everything Has Been Cancelled by Jackie Hosking
Jackie is a children’s picture book author and poet. Born in Nigeria to Cornish parents, she moved to Australia when she was ten. Her first picture book, The Croc and the Platypus, is published by Walker Books and her next four books are to be published by Walker, Scholastic and Larrikin House. Jackie’s poetry has appeared all over the world in magazines and anthologies and when she’s not writing in rhyme and metre herself, she loves to help other budding writers of rhyme.
 
The Inside is Out by Joseph Moorwood
Joseph is a 42-year-old firefighter from Sheffield in the UK. He has two young boys with his wonderful wife Emma (a nurse). He’s had two books published to date, but no poetry. The books are The Yorkshire Meaning of Liff and Yorkshire Wisdom (Great Northern Publishing). 
 
Uses for Patches of Sunlight by Kate O’Neil
Kate O’Neil writes poems for both children and adults and has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies. She and her husband live by the sea in the Northern Illawarra Region of New South Wales. They have three adult daughters and seven grandchildren.
 
My Name by Coral Rumble
‘Rumble has a dash and delight about her work,’ Michael Rosen commented. She has had three collections published, and has contributed to 150+ anthologies. Both of her later collections were featured in the ‘Best Books’ supplement of Junior Education Mag, and were selected as choices by The Children’s Poetry Bookshelf. Coral has written many poems for Cbeebies. Her picture book The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat, was longlisted for the ‘Oscars First Book Prize’ award. Coral won The Caterpillar Poetry Prize in 2018. Her winning poem, ‘Mustafa’s Jumper’, was published as a story in 2019. Her new collection of poems, Riding a Lion, is to be published this summer.
 
We Come in Peace by Robert Schechter
Robert Schechter’s poems for children have been published in The Caterpillar, Highlights for Children, Cricket,  Spider, Ladybug and many anthologies. He also writes for adults. You can learn more about him at http://bobschechter.com

Copycat by Sarah Ziman
Sarah Ziman is originally from South Wales, but now lives in Hertfordshire in England. She particularly enjoys writing funny poems, mainly for children, as she enjoyed being one and lives with two who give her lots of ideas. She also had a poem placed in the YorkMix children’s poetry prize last year, and her work has appeared on the London Underground, various poetry websites and of course the pages of The Caterpillar