Ridding Reading Prize 2017

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Artist in Residence, Yelena Popova with Ridding Reading Prize Winner for 2017, Sonnel David-Longe

The annual Ridding Reading Prize competition was held on 13 March 2017. The competition is a Girton tradition founded in honour of Caroline Mary Ridding, who won a scholarship to Girton to read Classics in 1883, and became a renowned Sanskrit and Pali scholar.

Prose and poetry readings were set for the contestants to prepare and read.

There were six competitors, two graduates and four undergraduates, reading a range of subjects in the Sciences and Arts: Sonnel David-Longe, Jessica Ginn, David Lawrence, Sheanna Patelmaster, Ruari Paterson-Achenbach and Scott Remer.

The competition was judged by a panel of Girton Fellows: Ms Judith Drinkwater, Dr Jill Jondorf, Dr Roland Randall and Dr Emma Weisblatt. We were delighted to welcome Ms Yelena Popova, Girton’s Artist in Residence for 2016-17, as the external adjudicator.

In the first round the contestants read an extract from Shadderby Neil Gaiman, and a sonnet, ‘Farewell!’, by William Shakespeare.

The judges selected three of the six contestants to proceed to round two.

In the second round, contestants read an extract from The Pursuit of Loveby Nancy Mitford and ‘A poetry reading at West Point’ by William Matthews. The contestants approached the former passage with relish, and communicated its humour and changing voices very effectively to the audience. All the readers of the Matthews poem engaged with the sense of place and tension running through the piece. The contestants also read an unseen poem, ‘A Blessing’ by James Wright, and the judges were impressed by the way that they conveyed the mingling of gentleness and wildness in the scene depicted.

The overall winner was Sonnel David-Longe, who consistently showed appreciation of and sensitivity to the language of the passages and poems, and riveted the audience with her readings.

The evening concluded with an excellent buffet meal kindly provided by the catering staff, and those assembled took the opportunity to discuss the readings and the different styles with which they had been presented. Thanks go to all those who assisted in making the evening a success, and especially to the competitors. Many congratulations go to the overall winner.

Published: 20 March 2017