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We asked: “Tell us why you love this city. Write a love letter to London.”

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The winners and runners-up were announced at the NLA in Guildhall on Saturday 27 April 2024, and the certificates were handed out by our judges, Gita Ralleigh, Nile Bridgeman, Graham Clifford.

The winning category was a love letter to Kenwood Ladies’ Pond. Take five minutes to have a cup of tea or coffee, relax and enjoy this poem.


To Kenwood Ladies' Pond, now and in five or a hundred years 

Dipping into the pond, my body slices open my second self in that mirror world.

Breathing, drifting, removed.

Then, the split of sun,

the pause, the drumbeat of the dawn.

Hands carve through the wine-dark depths.

Let me drink from it,

lap it up-now and in five or a hundred years

the feeling. Of a scorching summer day. The heath. Stretched out in the grass, the green shoots sprinting out of the soil to cocoon me. Face-to-face with the kingfisher. Bright blue metallic frenzy briefly obscured by the dappled canopy. Throwing off my top, baking in the splendor of that sun. The ribbon of wavering light.

Listening in on love affairs and holiday planning.

Around and around and around

we circle the water and each other and speak small things before we put our bodies back into clothes and return to our other selves.

The sharp gorgeous pain of it all and a kestrel hovers, desperate for prey.

Second Place: Penny Boxall, Parmesan

Third Place: Shania Janine Saldi, How Silly of Me to Have You, London

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Photo of Hampstead Ladies' Pond by John Weller/Lola Culsán as seen in their book 'Outdoor Swimming London'

Photos by Agnese Sanvito