Profile: Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition Winner Jonathan Greenhause
Fri 3 November 2017 / Written by Tŷ Newydd

Every year, Tŷ Newydd donates a place on a residential course for the Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition’s First Prize. This year, we’re delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s competition is Jonathan Greenhause with his poem The fire escape, no longer weighed down. You can read the full announcement, and more importantly the poem itself, on the Ledbury Poetry Festival Website.


Jonathan Greenhause works as a Court Interpreter in the Spanish language and resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, with this wife and two sons. He won the 2017 Prism Review Poetry Contest, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Dark Horse, The Interpreter’s House, New Walk Magazine, Popshot, Pushing Out the Boat, The Rialto, and Stand, among others. His second chapbook, Secret Traits of Everyday Things, was published by Encircle Publications in September, and you can find out more by visiting his website


We asked Jonathan a few questions to get to know him better. We look forward to meeting him in 2018 when he makes it across from the USA to visit us in north Wales.

What’s your favourite book?

The Plague by Albert Camus.

 If you could choose any three writers, dead or alive, to invite for supper, which three would you chose?

Virginia Woolf, Enrique González Martinez, and Walt Whitman.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Being alive in general. Using past experiences as material. Coming to terms with how screwed up things can be and turning that into positive energy on the page.

If you could be any character from the literary world, who would you be and why?

Maybe Yossarian from Catch-22? A humorous character stuck in an absurd world where a never-ending war warps our understanding of time, where we’re constantly in danger of being crushed by forces larger than ourselves. Or call me Ishmael? I’m the everyman narrator eager for new experiences, fearful of the pull of authoritarian figures and mysterious beasts lurking in the depths, always praying I’ll somehow make it out alive.

 What does winning this competition mean to you?

It means answering more proudly when I tell people I’m a poet. It’s the first major prize I’ve won, so obviously it makes me feel like I’m doing something right, like these thousands of hours I’ve spent writing and rewriting poetry and obsessively sending it out to reviews and contests might make some sense after all. Also, it’s especially gratifying to win a prize in Great Britain, since the Brits do know a thing or two about the English language.

Do you think you’ll make it across the Atlantic Ocean to Wales to see us?

Absolutely! I’m psyched to spend a week working on craft and conversing with other poets, plus it’s been 25 years since I last visited Wales. Looking very much forward to it!