Creative Writing online student wins award at Teignmouth Poetry Festival

15 May 2024

A woman stood at a pulpit reading a poem
Type: Text
Category: Student stories

Helene Du Mauri, a student on Falmouth’s online BA in Creative Writing, has recently won the 2024 Devon Poet Award at Teignmouth Poetry Festival.  

There are two competitions – Open and Local – held as part of the annual festival, which incorporates a series of events and community readings aiming to nurture and support poetic writing and performance. As the winner of the Local category, Helene’s poem – written under her pen name Ffion Mackenzie – was chosen from many Devon-based writers’ submissions by 2024 judge and award-winning poet, Graeme Ryan.  

Helene won the award for her poem someone should do something. On being named the winner, she told us: “It’s the first poetry competition I’ve ever entered, and I was so lucky to be there, and also to hear the international Open winners who were terrific.” 

Creative Writing BA (Online) Deputy Course Leader Nicola Coplin told us: “We are delighted for Helene. She has been a wonderful student and has really explored writing as a mode of expression throughout the degree, particularly in writing poetry. We are thrilled at her success and hope this is the first of many accolades!” 

About Helene 

Helene’s spark for creative writing emerged early, but she wasn’t supported to develop until later. As she explains: “When I was six, I wrote little stories about wolves and would hide the scraps of paper under my grandma’s floorboards in her little Glasgow council house. I wonder if they’re still there or if anyone has ever read them! I began writing these stories when I went to primary school, but was told off for being ‘naughty’,’ lazy’ and even ‘stupid’.” 

Decades later Helene was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, and is now flourishing as a creative writer on Falmouth’s online degree – thanks in part to the encouragement and support she is receiving. As she puts it: “Every tutor on the course goes beyond the call of duty to get me to dig deep and be adventurous with my writing. And as for the wider community, everyone is there for each other to share work and learn. It’s a great networking opportunity to be part of, and see the journeys of my fellow students.” 

Winning the 2024 Devon Poet Award is just the beginning for Helene. She is currently editing her first novel entitled The Military Wife, a psychological thriller set on a military base in 1996 which draws on her own time spending over 20 years as a military wife – an experience she describes as “a very protected world until the realities of war whack you and those around you with trauma”. 

Falmouth has opened my eyes to endless possibilities and has made my confidence grow; it really has brought out the best work in me

Helene is also working on a pamphlet of poems, plotting another novel and has ambitions to raise the profile of neurodiverse writers through her work. “We live in a world built by and for neurotypical people, and I hope that one day neurodiversity won’t be seen as a disability but simply another way of being human. We need a world that works for everyone, and I see protest writing as the perfect way to achieve this.” 

Helene’s creative voice is a vital one, and studying at Falmouth has helped her to hone and confidently channel it. As she puts it: “The most valuable thing I have learned is the ability to self-reflect, and to write outside my comfort zone. I've tried writing non-fiction, for example, which I never knew could be so creative! Above all, I am now able to write from the heart with an awareness of what is happening in the publishing world. Falmouth has opened my eyes to endless possibilities and has made my confidence grow; it really has brought out the best work in me.” 


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