The Rex Warner Prize Winners 2024

Date Published: 27.06.2024

The Rex Warner Prize is made possible by the generosity of Mrs Frances Warner, in memory of her husband Rex Warner, an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College.

Wadham College students are invited to submit an original short story; an original poem or poems; or a prose or verse translation from any ancient or modern language into English for this annual prize.

This year’s Rex Warner Prize was judged by Alice Baldock, Okinaga Junior Research Fellow in Japanese Studies, and Stephen Heyworth, Professor of Latin, Bowra Fellow and Tutor in Classics. The judges considered 24 entries: 11 poems or collections of poems, 4 translations, and 9 short stories. They were looking for interesting and provoking form and use of language and there was a very high standard of submissions in every category. Stephen and Alice were torn over being able to choose just one or two awards, and consequently decided to award one overall winner (£80 for a poem collection) and two other awards of £35 for the best submissions in each of the other two categories.

The judges were agreed in selecting the first-prize winner, Micaella Rogers (MSc African Studies, 2023), for the collection of poems entitled An Ode to University. This cycle takes the reader on a varied and accessible journey through the lifespan of an undergraduate degree, mixing the mundane, joy, despair. There was effective use of rhythm, rhyme, and varied repetition, and in one piece artful play with the phrase 'Please hold'. The two additional prizes go to the translation, Come and Watch the Sunset, by Adam Noad (BA Modern Languages, 2023), which the judges felt was a fluid and natural translation of an intense and chilling story, and to Anuoluwatoyosi Onikosi's (MSc Law and Finance, 2023) short story, Dignity is Bad for Business, where the author employs a documentary style and structure to grapple with themes of inequality, poverty, and war in wise but unpredictable ways.

In making their judgement, Alice and Stephen commend ‘To the Tune of Pouring Wine’ and ‘Adam’s Mother’, two translated poems, for their craft and the insightful explanation of their linguistic and historical context. Among the poems and collections, they commend ‘The Iconographer’, ‘An Estonian Winter’, and ‘Reed’ (a very touching piece, but very short). ‘Red Onion’ was a short story they enjoyed for its inventive account of the life of a knowing red onion, delighting to be cut and cooked, but only ever half eaten.

The judges congratulate the winners and express their appreciation to every applicant: they found pleasure in their originality, the range of ideas, and the variety of forms.