Congratulations to Constance Everett-Pite (DPhil Classical Languages and Literature) for winning the Chancellor’s English Essay Prize 2024, with her essay titled: ‘Green thoughts, Green Shades: remembering Homer with trees.’

The judges said: "This is a remarkably ambitious and accomplished essay.  It offers an intricate set of thoughts on the ways poetry thinks about itself or thinks itself into being through a variety of ‘green’ images.  Leaves, trees and water become the unifying motifs for a series of nuanced meditations on the poetry of Alice Oswald and Jorie  Graham.  Through attentive and interesting interpretation of Oswald’s lectures as professor of poetry (on water and earth in particular) the writer uncovers a story of Oswald’s attempt to bring alive in writing an oral ecopoetic tradition (derived from Homer). Green thoughts (modern and ecocritical) ‘sprout’ from green shades (the memory of Homeric past/antique poetry). Like a poem, water and plant transform, fall, and grows again. Oswald’s similes, the essay persuasively demonstrates,  find creative contact with ancientness but cannot substitute for the ‘absence’ in green shade.  Likewise, Jorie Graham’s similar project of ecological elegy (albeit not in conversation with a Homeric past) finds in trees the roots to articulate bereavement personal and environmental. We admired the writer’s  astute attention to sound as well as sense, its interleaving of leaves and trees across generations, its philosophical rhyming of leaf and grief.  The essayist’s attention to sound and sense and weighing of words can also be seen in the essay’s own good sentences, such as its closing one: “The creative green thoughts sit beside the ghostly green shades”—a neat trick that brings back Marvell, but where the shade of trees overlap with the shades of Homer, regeneration and loss side by side. The quality of scholarship and levels of attention on display here are first rate and there are some lovely discriminations (poeticisms that are ‘anthropomorphic but not assimilating’), as well as a deep receptivity to the affective range of green thoughts (greenness is not only a sign of life but is also ‘a kind of grief.’). We also appreciated that there were tangential shoots in the footnotes, the sense that the essay barely contained the fizzing thoughts stirred forth."

Constance graduated from Corpus with a BA in Classics and English in October 2021.  She collected her MST in Greek and/or Latin Languages and Literature in 2022 and is in the second year of her doctoral studies.