A HARROW poet has won an award for her work after deciding to take up writing at the age of 53.
Dorothy Pope, of Runnelfield, is celebrating after winning the Elizabeth Longford Rose Bowl award for poetry from the Society of Women Writers and Journalists on June 5.
She said: "I was thrilled with the award as I knew some of the other poets and competition for that prize was stiff. I just did not expect it."
Despite her late start, Dorothy has published more than 200 poems, two books and been writing for 20 years. Her first book, The Fourth Man - A Selection of Poems, was published in 2002 and sold 400 copies, which was a huge achievement for a self-published author.
The 73-year-old said: "I was always very busy, I was a teacher and devoted to my children. When I was 53 years old and I found myself with a lot spare time on my hands, I wondered if I could write."
The mother-of-two took a writing course run by the Workers' Educational Association and was surprised by the results.
She said: "I had written stories and articles at first and then I wrote a poem one day in class. The teacher read it and just said to me 'you're a poet'."
Mrs Pope, who has lived in Harrow for 52 years, has already won two other awards for her self-published poetry, including the Poetry Society's Hamish Canham Prize in 2007.
She has also been featured on Radio 4, where she read out one of her self-penned rhymes about 50 years of knitting.
After her husband died two years ago writing has proved to be a carthartic experience for the part-time English tutor.
The winning poem 'Not Yet' was inspired by her husband. She said: "The poem talks about a widow and all things she can not do yet, like get rid of her husband's things.
"He died of a terminal illiness and I wrote some of my best poems when he was dying. Grief is such a strong emotion and so is love." * Dorothy Pope's new book, The Summerhouse Poems, priced at £5.40, is avaliable from Waterstone's, in St Ann's Road, and Gayton Library, in St John's Road, and other good bookshops.
The winning poem:
Unread and daily set aside to be recycled,
his copy of The Times arrives
and I can no more bear to cancel it
than I can part with his good overcoat
or give away his favourite marmalade.