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Sykes Prize 2022


We are delighted to announce the winners of the Robinson College Sykes Prize 2022. As was the case last year, the entries were of an extremely high standard, all displaying different imaginative and formal qualities. Once again, we warmly congratulate the winners of this year's prize on the originality of their achievements. The winners are listed below, along with links to their entries, and below that list is the original prompt for this year's award. The judges would like to offer thanks again to Keith Sykes for his generous support of the initiative.

First place: Gabriel Rolfe (Nullarbor)

Second place: Asia Miranno (Commentarium)

Joint third place: Elliot Kelly (Artemis), Paul Norris (Out of doors), and Anika Goddard (The Arbour Artificial)

Trees, especially growing in forests, have always provided scenes of adventure, sometimes of terror and sometimes of refreshment.  In Italian literature Dante begins his journey lost in a dark wood but finds his way back to a primal forest where nature is as abundant as it was always meant to be. The heroes of epic romances by Ariosto and Tasso are bewildered in nightmarish woods where they are driven to mad, destructive assaults on the vegetation that surrounds them; Piero di Cosimo in his mythological depiction of the origins of human history imagines violent scenes of hunting and panic.

The Italian texts that inspire the choice of ‘Trees’ as a subject include Dante’s Inferno Canto 13 and Purgatorio 28, along with Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso Canto 23 and Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata Canto 13. However, entries to the Sykes competition need not make close reference to these texts or to any Italian author. After all, in recent years, writers in many languages have shown considerable interest in funghi, rhizomes and lichen. Submissions can be in any written form that you choose (though not exceeding 2,000 words):  stories, poems, film scripts, and graphic novels are all admissible.

Piero di Cosimo (1462-1522) A Hunting Scene