Sylvia Rowbottom

2019 Finalist Winner

Sylvia began attending poetry classes at City Lit in 1999 at the age of 71. Despite challenges of age and mobility she continues to travel by public transport each week to attend classes, and her work has been published in numerous poetry journals.

“I had to leave school at 16. The war was on so I went to clerical school and got a job but I made a pledge to myself that whenever I got the chance, no matter how long it took, I would get more education. The years passed. I worked and saved, got married and brought up children and by then I was 65. The first thing I did when I retired was set up a direct debit to the Open University.

Learning kept my mind active and occupied, and still does. I graduated with a first class degree in humanities when I was 70, and then joined the poetry in the making course. Poetry was something I had always wanted to pursue and I knew it was a road I had to follow. Studying at City Lit I felt part of me was coming to life that never had before.

By the time you get to the age of 90, it is good to have something to occupy your mind. If your mind is focused on something you care about, you are, I think, less likely to become ill. It gives my family peace of mind to know that ‘mum’s got something to occupy her mind’ and it has also given us opportunities to connect.”

Caroline Natzler, poetry tutor at City Lit said “Sylvia’s distinctive spirit, determination, generosity, insightful supportiveness to other poets and unique sense of humour are remarkable. She is a great inspiration to everyone in the class.”