Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Friday, 30 August 2013
There was a very strong selection of poems entered for this competition. Maybe an underlying awareness of the chosen charity contributed to the number of poems that came over as both personal and reflective – an overwhelming number touched on the theme of memory, its importance and strengths as well as its transience and loss.
I had no problem choosing my winners. The problems came with the ones I had to leave out. There were many that couldn’t make the final list and I can’t list them all here. I must mention one in particular – ‘The Green Post’. I was sad not to be able to place such an excellent poem.
A quick mention also for the following: ‘Flood’, ‘Dwelling Place’, ‘Beginning’, ‘Kelp Stalk’, ‘Vanishing Trick’ .All these, together with the winning poems and many other strong contenders will, I hope, be in this autumn’s anthology where others may share my enjoyment.
I have read this piece countless times now and each time it strikes me as faultless, a perfect poem. The reader is led slowly through the situation – a patient who toys with the ‘quivering possibility’ of suicide’ and a psychiatrist/doctor who, while feeling powerless to help except with medication, can empathise with the horror of the childhood experience of seeing a man ‘let go and drop’ from a bridge into the ‘unshimmering depths’. The memory of this shocking event includes not only the actual falling but the heart stopping seconds before, the ‘sickening courage/of that hand/letting go of the rail.’
‘Bridgewatcher’ is an unforgettable poem, well crafted and written with sensitivity and compassion. An outstanding winner.
This poem is both beautiful and shocking – beautiful in the way it describes the ‘comfort’ in defencelessness of a seizure and shocking in the relentless detailing of the stages of convulsion and the poignancy of the years of endurance since the ‘original undoing’ of the ‘nine year old self’.
There is so much to admire in this brave and important poem, particularly the poet’s careful and delicate use of language to peel back the layers of an experience in which the seizure itself feels almost orgasmic in its reaching the ‘very crux’ of ‘self-abandonment’.
3rd The Old School yard
This is a poem about the sadness and pain of nostalgia with its overlay of loss and impermanence.
I have particularly selected this poem as a winner for its choice of evocative details, the careful delineation of the four friends and the need they share for dreams and imagined lives and also for the bitter-sweet poignancy of the ‘litany’ of experiences which may be seen as no more than ‘postcards’ or ‘scrawled prattle’ but which, somewhere in the depths of memory, are still ‘precious’.
Highly Commended: picture book
It was a joy to find this poem among the entries – the kind of writing I love that explores and imaginatively plays with language. The repetitions of phrases and images are used so skilfully here, revealing layers and layers of meaning through the subtleties of words.
Highly Commended: Faceless flowers
Here we have an almost unbearably sad poem which I chose for its structure, its back story, its careful selection of details to convey emotions and for such perfect lines as ‘feelings rubbing, battling the days, the sun streaming in, the sky cracking, my words falling like silk.’
A beautiful poem. I wish it could have been placed higher.
My congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all entrants.
First Prize: Bridgewatcher – Penny Shutt (UK)
Second Prize: Pseudoseizures – Penny Shutt
Third Prize: The Old School Yard – Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde (Hong Kong)
Highly Commended: Picture Book – Nick Pemberton (UK)
Highly Commended: Faceless Flowers - Katelin Farnsworth (Australia)
These poems together with others selected by the judge will be published in the anthology: Bridgewatcher and Other Poems in October 2013. The full list of poems selected for the anthology will be published on the 10th of September.
Sunday, 9 June 2013
By Mary Oliver
It occurs to you one day
that your parents,
like your favourite chicken
they slaughtered for Sunday lunch,
You lie down in the warm grass
of a sunlit field and you cry.
You cry till they find you.
They put you to bed, still crying.
You hear them outside your bedroom door,
What can it be? It’s not her usual grizzling.
They take it in turns
to come in and sit beside you on your bed.
What is it? You must say.
They even begin to get cross.
But of course you can’t tell them.
You don’t want to hurt their feelings.
The next day you put it behind you,
never give it another thought
not until first one dies
then the other
leaving you a few years in which to enjoy
the freedom of a late orphanage.
You’re thinking about it again now, aren’t you?
Death. You think about it a lot.
You’re thinking how good it’ll be
to return to the field where you cried,
where the chicken pecked.
Where the Chicken Pecked was highly commended in the African Prisons Project Poetry Competition 2013