Spring Poetry Competition 2017

Results Poetry Kit Open Poetry Competition, 2017

The winning poem,
Hate, by Julia Carlson, Cambridge, MA. USA

The rest of the poems that made it to the shortlist are listed here in alphabetical order:

Auxi Fernandez in Morgan’s Bar: by Derek Sellen, Canterbury, UK
Incarnation – Paris Siege 1870-71 by C. Swire, Malvern, UK
In Memory of Two Lives by Lisa Reily, Tacoma South, NSW, Australia
Memorial Service for Dame Cecily Saunders by Elizabeth Davies, London, UK
Nostalgia by Yasmin Roe, Coniston, UK
Worth It by Alicia Fernández, Leeds, West, UK

Judges Report

The winning poem, Hate, succeeds in conveying complex emotions that are involved in compassion where circumstances make it difficult for the narrator to really help: a ‘heavy angry sad feeling’ is made explicit as is the ‘hate’ of the title, while the poem’s tone and content also convey gentleness and provide concrete contexts for the feelings. Form, tone and style make me think of the way O’Hara can turn everyday activity into a kind of meditation, linking the immediate with other events and environments. The movement between tenses works well in achieving this.

The rest of the poems that made it to the shortlist are listed here in alphabetical order:

Auxi Fernandez in Morgan’s Bar: the poem conveys a real sense of the dancer’s movement, and I especially liked the image of ‘face halved by light’.

Incarnation – Paris Siege 1870-71: this is an intriguing topic, which reminds me of that awful saying about ‘eating the elephant a spoonful at a time’; this section stood out: ‘Two massive, wrinkled beasts/scoured by a thousand lines, as if their pencil etchings/had taken absurd mass.’

In Memory of Two Lives: the image of the ‘eye dangling and bloodied’ is startling and horribly memorable.

Memorial Service for Dame Cecily Saunders: I liked this tribute to one of the founders of palliative care and the hospice movement; the writer has neatly referred to both beginning and ending in the opening line, and circled back to that at the end with ‘The ends are yours to love now’.

Nostalgia: this is a poem with a story to tell, leaving the reader to speculate, and leading into a satisfying last line: ‘The last little piece of you gone’.

Worth It: this poem takes an image of Dr Martens boots as a metaphor for developing ways to cope with the hard knocks of life. I liked the neat pun of the ending: ‘it is worth it/in the long run.’

Lesley Burt

HATE by Julia Carlson

Today I sat on a stone bench in Harvard Square
Eating an ice cream cone
I was waiting for the #1 bus
The sun was nice and warm on my face
Eight or nine sparrows watched me
I realized they were waiting to see if
I would throw them some crumbs.
They sat unmoving, silent, not a chirp
Tilting their heads from side to side
Watching me from an angle, as birds do.
I wondered if hungry people ever watched
Customers eating at a restaurant.
I remember reading a french poem about that –
Maybe by Jacques Prevert,
A boy presses his nose against the glass
And watches the man inside eating
His croissant and drinking coffee
The boy is so hungry, his stomach hurts
And he hasn’t a sou. In the poem
The man doesn’t come out of the cafe
And offer to buy him breakfast.
No he comes out of the cafe and yells at him
Get lost, you dirty kid!
Nothing for a grubby gamin running the streets
With scuffed knees and dirty fingernails.
I crumbled up the rest of the ice cream cone
To little bits & tossed them to the sparrows
Who flocked and grabbed greedily
For despite the warm sun, it was a cold day.
I do not hate those sparrows
Or that hungry, grubby kid in the poem
But I do hate the angry guy who chased him away.
I find myself hating quite a few people these days
Mostly people in our “new” government
Who have power not only over
Grubby boys and their sisters who are hungry tonight,
But over the sparrows too,
Who like bees, lizards, and turtles
Like lakes and streams
May one day disappear from the earth.
I never thought I would own hate,
But I do now and
I am not ashamed of it –
This heavy angry sad feeling
That weighs on me like a big stone
As heavy as a grubby boy
Or a small flock of sparrows.