Ilse Pedler - Women's Pamphlet Competition 2015 winner

Ilse Pedler The Dogs that Chase Bicycle Wheels

I haven’t entered that many competitions and I never really expect to win, so to have done so is incredible. Writing is a solitary occupation, so winning the competition and being able to share my poems and actually have them published as a pamphlet is very exciting. I suppose more than that it feels like an affirmation, if that makes sense. I belong to two poetry groups; the Cambridge Writers Group and Cambridge Stanza and I wouldn’t be the poet I am without their encouragement and support over the last few years. I’ve worked hard at improving my writing, so winning the competition really feels like all the work has been worth it.

Many of the poems in the pamphlet are written as a result of my experiences as a veterinary surgeon, a job that is inspiring, frustrating and all-consuming – but never boring. I am often in awe of the animals and the owners that I deal with and I hope the poems convey some of this. I have recently reduced my hours so I can concentrate more on poetry. Also a huge thanks must go to Mslexia and Amy Wack at Seren!

Ilse Pedler is 52 and lives in Saffron Waldon, where she works as a veterinary surgeon. She has a son, stepson and a number of small and medium-sized animals. She manages to spend around ten hours a week writing, often pulling over en route to a farm call-out to jot down lines. Her poems have appeared in Poetry News, Orbis and The North, amongst others.

What did the judge say?

I kept returning to this pamphlet, in which the author’s point of view as a practising vet was a running theme. The style is Adobe Photoshop PDFpointed, practical, realistic, yet laced with a sense of mystery, as in ‘Suturing secrets’, in which surgery is a metaphor for uncovering hidden events. A strong voice, a distinctive point of view and fascinating subject matter creates a winning pamphlet.

Amy Wack, Poetry Editor, Seren Books. 

The winning pamphlet The Dogs that Chase Bicycle Wheels is published by Seren Books, and is available now.

Congratulations to the other highly commended entries

  • Lia Brooks, This Heron, That Door
  • Lesley Gourlay, The Weight of Water
  • Geraldine Clarkson, Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament
'I particularly enjoyed the quick creative exercises, the book suggestions and the job adverts'
Sophie Livall