Lancaster University

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Student wins Poetry Prize

01/14/2009 15:32:49

Polly Atkin
Polly Atkin

A Lancaster University student who is following in the footsteps of Wordsworth has won a prestigious national poetry prize.

As part of her PhD in English and Sociology Grasmere-based writer Polly Atkin is exploring the creative and cultural past of Dove Cottage - the one-time Lakeland home of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and opium-addicted writer Thomas de Quincey.

Her own poem Colony Collapse Disorder, written during her time at Dove Cottage, has recently won the Troubadour Poetry Prize.

Polly moved from London to Grasmere in 2006 to start her PhD in collaboration with The Wordsworth Trust, funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Landscape and Environment scheme.

Her research ‘A Place Re-imagined: The Spatial, Literary and Cultural Making of Dove Cottage, Grasmere’ traces the story of Dove Cottage from its humble origins as a Grasmere hostelry, through the Lakes Poets years to its present day status of tourist attraction, museum and archive.

The creative magic of Dove Cottage and the surrounding landscape have also left an impression on Polly.

She said: “My move to the Lake District wasn’t premeditated - I moved to Grasmere because that's where my research took me; but as soon as I did move I began to think it was both inevitable and necessary.

“For a long time after I left London, especially after moving to Grasmere, I felt as though the move had created a parallel life; that there was another me still in London going about her usual business, living a city-life, while I somehow found myself leading this previously unimaginable existence, constantly covered in mud or coal-dust; gathering kindling in the woods; walking up mountains by moonlight.

“I would not have written this particular poem, without this life-shift enabled by my research.”

To read her prize-winning poem go to or to read more about Polly go to For more about her research go to