A LIFE working with words and paint has always been 18-year-old Dominic Hand’s dream.

And now the Iffley teenager has got one step closer to joining the list of acclaimed Oxford poets who have been inspired by the city’s dreaming spires.

The Magdalen College School student has won first prize and £3,000 in Christ Church’s annual Christopher Tower Poetry Competition.

His poem, Annunciation, is based on George Hitchcock’s painting from 1887.

He said: “I wrote that poem about a year ago. I write a lot and it’s what I want to do in life. It’s what I love.”

Mr Hand first started writing poetry when he was 14, after translating poems from French at school.

He was also named as one of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year in 2013 alongside 16-year-old Esme Partridge from Oxford Spires Academy.

They beat 7,748 other young poets aged between 11 and 17 who entered from 75 countries across the world.

Mr Hand is studying English, Art, and Theology A-Levels and has an offer to study English at Oxford’s Oriel College.

He said: “It is a nice feeling to win. But so many of the other poets were great.”

The Christopher Tower Poetry Competition is in its 14th year and was set up by Christ Church alumnus Christopher Thomas Tower.

He wrote nine illustrated books of poetry and left a legacy of £5m which has been used to fund two teaching posts at the college.

It has also funded the annual poetry competition which is open to students aged 16-18.

Mr Hand’s parents, Maoliosa and Prof Sean Hand, were “thrilled” with the news of their son’s success.

Mrs Hand, a publisher, said: “I’m very pleased and proud.”

Her husband, who teaches French at the University of Warwick, said: “From the moment he started writing poems, he has always been a poet. It is how he sees the world. It is an important part of his life. I feel proud of him.”

In second place was Sam Buckton, from Rudolf Steiner School in Hertfordshire, with Masha Voyles, from Charterhouse School, Surrey, third.

The awards were judged by poets Olivia McCannon, Kei Miller, and Peter McDonald.

Ms McCannon said of Mr Hand’s work: “It was a beautiful poem. It was basically a poem about the moment when news which is very private, becomes public. It was an interesting concept.”


ON the brink of a late-19th century twilight, this girl is still at the edge of the lake.
See how silently she gathers each stem – the wavering rows like a passage of time – as between the layers of lilies like a veil, her agitated movements go unseen.
The water is hard in the milky light, taut as her dress in the labouring wind.
And behind her the deserted fields recede into an empty sky. This is the way we enter in: threading back down to the horizon, back to before the birth of God.