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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
National poetry contest names winner
Big Brother contestant Jon Tickle
Big Brother was a common theme of the 5,000 entries
A poem portraying Britain as a needlework map has won a BBC competition to mark Thursday's National Poetry Day by finding new poetry as powerful as Jerusalem.

The verses submitted by Southampton IT specialist Con Connell were judged the best of more than 5,000 entries.

Sex, suburbia and reality gameshow Big Brother were recurrent themes among the otherwise diverse entries to the Poem for Britain competition.

Poets were challenged to write a work to match "the intensity and resonance of Blake".

'Fascinating results'

Mr Connell's poem, Harvest Time: A Needlework Map Commemorating the Millennium, will be read by TV star Liza Tarbuck on Thursday night for BBC Two's Essential Poems For Britain.

Harvest Time: a Needlework Map, by Con Connell.
Our village holds no special place
In history. Its public face
Would cause no traveller to pause
Its landscape merits no applause.
We love it though. And love declares
Its memories, in patchwork squares,
And fabric images that bind
The heritage we leave behind.
Each public, private thought portrayed,
Each delicately appliquéd.
We stretch our memories on frames,
Without exaggerated claims,
Knowing each proud biography
Embroiders our geography.
This warning, too, our needles know,
That as we reap, so shall we sew.

The show, which starts at 1930 BST, features a selection of poems selected to celebrate Britishness for National Poetry Day.

Presenter Daisy Goodwin said: "British identity is shaped by poetry - through the competition we also saw the fascinating results of a cultural examination of the nation's self-perception."

Mr Connell's poem was chosen by judges including poet Roger McGough, writer and broadcaster Nigel Williams and literary editor of The Sunday Times, Caroline Gascoigne.

Mr Connell, 54, said: The BBC Poem for Britain Competition is a marvellous idea for encouraging a wider interest in poetry, and I am delighted to have won such a prestigious national competition."

The BBC launched its competition in the spring, asking for poems which reflected the UK in the 21st century.

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