Thanks to one and all who entered! Once again we were overwhelmed by the volume and quality of submitted entries, though this year the ‘international’ part of the competition only stretched to Ireland and Spain. Nevertheless, every poem was scrutinised, shortlisted and submitted to the chief judge who in time gave us what he considered to be the best of the bunch.
Comments are below, most winning entries will be available to read No longer available.
Chief Judges Report
It is often said that poetry is a subjective force, waxing and waning according to those who look, listen and dwell upon it and in many regards that holds true. The standard of entries this year upholds that thought, as no two were alike in form and function and were nearly all without a doubt extremely well written.
There were songs of woe, ridiculous assertions, attempts to capture the essence of base sensations and at least one that made me blush somewhat. But as ever with the flurry of competition, individual snowflakes must be found and plucked from their brethren and be presented as slightly more snowflakey than the rest (which is where the comparison falls down). Out of several hundred entries, we whittle down to the following.
Farewell to the Barber – Tony Oswick
Short, sweet, to the point and with definite strains of the familiar, this piece makes use of occasionally quite abrupt rhymes and has one wobble with the metre, but certainly expresses perfectly well the secret agony of the oncoming baldy. Some might say a topic that strikes close to my own heart, to which I can now hide my cans of spray on hair, point to this poem and proudly say ‘It’s not just me!’
Body Polish – Jacqueline Pemberton
An unusual, yet compelling piece of work, on one level simply a lady(?) having a wash and contemplating her navel as she does so. On another level, this speaks of rebirth by water, the action of sea and effort transforming the object into a wonderous thing. On a third level, the impression of some form of beach debris being worn down, polished and refreshed into a natural piece of art. Only the original poet probably knows what this is actually about, and that is perfectly fine, highly enjoyable regardless.
Gran’s Living-Room Triptych – Roger Elkin
This may be a contentious winner, but this set of three brief studies on the grace of a grandmother and her possessions speak volumes about family, necessity, personal taste, respect and is positively oozing with whispered backstory, given as subtle word choices and overt examples, hinting at a history most chequered. Each section focuses on the choice of a particular painting upon her wall, using the very description of the paintings’ contents to enable the true subject, the grandmother to express her life story through her choices. Excellent.
The Elephant Game – Angela Platt
One gets the impression this one is based on true events, of a child getting a bit too up close and personal with a (less than) gentle behemoth and the strength of a mothers love winning through. Whether it is or isn’t, the poet captures the mothers observations, panic and triumph very well, with some very strong language choices (‘reptile fury spits’ is wonderful). I would have preferred a more consistent structure, but good nevertheless.
Bearing Fruit – Val Ormrod
An idea oft used is about ideas themselves and this short piece does well to equate the spirit of idea with fleeting fruit, which one day might stop growing (a terrifying prospect!). Inspiration lost falls to rot and the overall arch of the Seasons peeks through the words, the life of an idea hidden in soft juicy flesh. Very nice.
An Illustrated Book – Angela Platt
Three Strange Birds – Anne Harding
Angel of the North – Peter Cash
Journey – Ailie Wallace
Goldfinches – Anthony J. Matthews
Eruption – Frances Whiteman