The winners of the 2021 Janet Coats Memorial Prize are Gemma Livingstone, an S1 pupil at Castlehead High School (under 18s), and Paisley poet, Morag Smith (over 18s).  
The judging panel for the prestigious prize included poet and playwright and Scots Makar, until 2016, Liz Lochhead: poet, writer, and creative practitioner, Nadine Aisha Jassat: and the current Tannahill Makar, Brian Whittingham.
 
Over 130 poems were submitted in the over 18s category and 27 were submitted in the under 18s category by pupils attending Renfrewshire schools.
 
Inspired by Green Spaces which many people have taken solace in since lockdown, Gemma Livingstone’s poem entitled Breathe is her response to the air becoming cleaner.
 
Morag Smith’s poem – Background Paper 3 (Proposed Housing Developments, Dykebar) – is based on proposed housing development plans on green spaces.  
 
Runners up in the under 18s category:
Emma McCallum (S2, Castlehead High School) – Poem 3
Alisdair Napier (S1, Castlehead High School) – Let That Be Our Green Space
 
Under 18s Highly Commended
Cameron Walker (S2, Castlehead High School) – Green Space Poem
Dawn McGuire (S2, Castlehead High School) – Treehouse
Sarah Fulton (S5, St Andrew’s Academy) – Upon the Hill
 
Runners up in the over 18s category:
Marka – The Gulls’ Lament
Angus Bhattacharya – A Trumpeter 
 
Over 18s Highly Commended
Camilla Bell – Return to Edinburgh
Caroline Burrows – The Only Way Out is to Cycle Through
Sadie Maskery – Where the Wild Things Were

Keira Brown, Co-Producer, Paisley Book Festival said: “The standard of submissions was incredibly high and we want to thank everyone who submitted a poem. It was not an easy task for our sifting team which included members of Renfrewshire Leisure’s Libraries and Arts teams. We are delighted for our winners Gemma Livingstone and Morag Smith. We would also like to thank all the Renfrewshire schools who encouraged their students to write a poem.”
 
For the two winning poems – see Notes for Editors 
 
 
For further information contact: Wendy Niblock PR | wendyjniblock@btinternet.com | 07961 814834