We are pleased to reveal the names of the winners and commended poets chosen by judge Sinéad Morrissey.
First Prize:– – Rob Miles, ‘Moon’
Second Prize:-.. Natalie Rees, ‘Little House’
Third Prize:– –Luke Allan, ‘Lemon ode’
Rod Whitworth, ‘Winter 1947, Our Yard’
Ken Evans, ‘The Mortification of the Flesh’
Susie Wilson, ‘Paper Chase’
Connor Owen, ‘Birdwatcher’
First Prize: Rob Miles for his poem ‘Moon’
Rob Miles is from Devon and lives in West Yorkshire. His poetry has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies. Rob has won or been runner up in various international journal and festival competitions. Some of Rob’s first places include the Philip Larkin Prize, judged by Don Paterson, and the Gingko/Resurgence Ecopoetry Prize, judged by Jo Shapcott and Imtiaz Dharker.
Some bad amateur maths pins it at blinking distance.
A hackneyed backlight design for antlers.
Salty ghost sucking crustily on the veins of a tree.
Chimneys giving it the finger get met by nothing
so tough in its serenity. There’s no face on this
pick-pocketed fossil, but a face
swallowing a face because no final face
has ever been achieved. It will take much more
than a few kitchen windows to explain. Stare
hard enough through a kettle’s breath and the aura
off its rocky iridescence is sticky tape going rogue:
ambiguous attachments, clear
commitment issues, now you see it, now…
Found on baby blue, welcome back as that nightmare
button thought lost in a cot. Singular mother
of all mothers of pearl. Floating speck on the retina
of the world. Eclipses fixed with a quick once over
at the opticians. Slingshot
chalk. Ancient castle moat igniter. Tide-teaser. Sliced
extrusion of seaside rock, blank at both ends
but all the way through saying moon.
Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: It seems almost impossible to write a good poem about the moon these days, and yet this writer has done exactly that. Like a stick of seaside rock, this virtuosic poem offers fresh perspectives on our planet’s most poetry-honoured satellite all the way through, and is full of textured grit and sonic wordplay.
Second Prize: Natalie Rees for her poem ‘Little House’
Natalie Rees is an Irish writer living in Bradford where she runs a Play & Creative Arts Therapy practice. She has been a prizewinner in the Penfro (2018) and Flambard (2017) poetry competitions and has published with various UK magazines. Her debut pamphlet is forthcoming later this year with Calder Valley Press.
Laura Ingles, with your mousey braids
and plaid smocks. With your sister, Mary,
who was prettier and towed the puritan line,
while you couldn’t help but involve
yourself in the entanglements
of your late nineteenth-century agrarian community
in ways that produced perfect moral outcomes,
such as Nellie Olsen in her Quaker best
being pulled by her blonde ringlets
into a pond because she was too self-aggrandising
when deferring to her family’s
sweet-shop-cum-hardware-store mercantile lifestyle.
Laura Ingles, I turned the top shelf of my plywood
wardrobe into your mid-western attic bedroom,
and sneaked up matches to read my Bible by paraffin lamp
made out of a used Nutella jar and tea light.
I craved your wholesome life, so safe and contained. If only
we could all skip around swinging packed lunches
in tin pails, wearing starched cotton dresses with white
aprons, everything in my eight-year-old life would be okay.
Laura Ingles, I spent Sunday afternoons fantasising
your father Charles would step out of the screen
into my living room, and pinch my cheek,
and call me Half-Pint,
his eyes meeting mine with all the twinkle
of a man who can hitch a wagon and work a water mill
by hand. Who would always happen to be behind
the next corner the precise moment
I needed a paternal figure to soak my shame
into the metallic sweetness of his flannel shirt.
Laura Ingles, even now I classify my personal timeline
as life Before Laura and life After Laura.
Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: This poem is composed of four direct addresses to Laura Ingles, with a whole world conjured in between. Funny, wry, self-deprecating and linguistically exuberant, “Little House” offers a re-run of a much-loved television series via unforgettable phrases and capacious syntax.
Third Prize:–Luke Allan for his poem ‘Lemon ode’
Luke Allan is a poet, editor and designer. Former managing editor at Carcanet and PN Review, he is currently poetry editor at Partus Press and the literary journal Pain, and director of Studio Lamont. He studied at UEA and the University of Oxford. His poems are published in the TLS, Oxford Poetry, the anthology New Poetries VII and elsewhere.
Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: A gorgeous concrete poem in the shape of a lemon which conveys this fruit’s sharp, sensuous appeal to our touch, our sight, and our hearing in taut language and fruitful similes. The final comparison to owls is both unexpected and exactly right and seals this poem’s achievements beautifully.