“Far From Home” claims poetry prize in Viola competition

Viola Trawler Post

30th November 2020

A writer whose desk overlooks the North Sea used the inspiration of her coastal location to claim first place in the poems and short stories category of the Viola Trust’s “One Thousand Words” competition.

Alison Riley, who lives on the seafront in Hornsea, delighted judges drawn from the Viola trustees with her poem, “Far From Home” which charted key aspects of the Viola’s long and proud history and her series of name changes.

Alison works as Communications Officer for the Peak National Park and has developed her skills to secure a BA Honours in Creative Writing.

She said: “I read about the competition and it captured my imagination. I saw there was a book about the Viola so I bought it, read it and found the most amazing story which fired my imagination. Now I want to know more about it.”

Alison is now in touch with Dr Robb Robinson, a Viola trustee and renowned maritime historian, to research further details of the ship’s history with a view to writing more poems and stories.

She is pictured at her desk and her winning poem is below.

Far From Home

Here lies Dias,

Seven thousand, seven hundred and forty four miles from home,

Like an old bod, beached with her mariners’ memories,

Long weeks at sea long since gone by the board.

She’s still keeping an eye out for elephant seals,

Dreaming of whales in the South Atlantic,

Laid low listening to seabirds’ shanties,

Not speaking of the wars.


Here lies Kapduen,

Seven thousand, seven hundred and forty four miles from home,

Short of ten men to hold her on a course north,

Even at this stretch she’s striking the souls of East Yorkshire’s fishermen,

Ringing the hearts of Hull’s finest like a ship’s bell struck,

To think of one of theirs so far from home.

Sun-bleached paint and rust flakes from her hull

Falling like snow into the water.


Here lies Viola,

Seven thousand, seven hundred and forty four miles from home.

Nineteen seventy-four, snow-scuttled in Grytviken,

Castled by ice, pillars of frozen water heavy as dead whales.

Odd to think that a champion of North Sea storms,

Victor over submarines, could fall victim to midwinter’s snow.

Viewing her from high on the hill, old Ernest shakes his head,

As though to say, “Viola, it’s time you were home.”

By Alison Riley.


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