Poetry Competition Winners 2014
1st Prize: At Tarskavaig - John Foggin
2nd Prize: Gifted - Robin Houghton
3rd Prize: South View Juniors - Emily Wills
After my first sifting through of what was sent to me as a pre-selected short list of 41 poems, I had put to the side 29 which, for me, were NOT going to be prize winners. My reasons for rejecting varied -- but it was mainly about too many good ideas or images in the one poem cancelling each other out. Lines from these still stay in my memory though. All had memorable moments. (The pre- selectors had done well!)
But after my first cull I now had 13 on MY shortlist now which I liked VERY much for various reasons. They were all very different, which I knew was just going to make this job all the more difficult. How do you decide between the apple of a quite wild but linguistically inventive, funny, almost surreal dream/memory poem, say, and the astringent orange of a beautifully spare crafted piece with just three three line stanzas and one final four-line with not a syllable out of place? You can't, but you have to.
Any one of these 13, could have, if not won, been placed. And would have been, even by me, on another day when I was in a mood for a different fruit. Finally, I chose as my first prize 'At Tarskavaig' for its clarity, its earthy sensuousness of both image and sound. I could almost feel the weather and smell the salt air. Then an evocation of a mystery, and of a vivid otherness at its strong ending.
'Gifted' comes second. Also beautiful writing and care with language here, and hey! once one works out who the speaker, who the 'I' of the poem, is and exactly who she's addressing...? Ah! I'm not sure this author got quite the right title. Oh yes it's clever, at least once the reader has cracked the poem's code, but I'd have liked a title which would have put me, the reader, right there in the nest with the host from the word go. Great poem though.
'South View Juniors 'gets third prize in the end, for its wild way with nostalgia, its inventiveness with it, its energy, its black humour, its helter-skelter surrealism. A half dream, half nightmare collage with that rather terrifying but glamorous figure of 'Miss' at the centre. I really liked this one too, and on another day...
The same could be said for --in no particular order now and that's a relief' -- 'Poem on the back of my hands', 'Cherchez le Poeme', 'Piper', 'What Price a Diamond' , 'Life Class' 'Women's Self Defence', 'The Moon under Water'. All highly commended. But I want to stop now before I start to doubt the decisions I made.
Although this job of judging turned up when I was really busy writing something myself I enjoyed the poems here at least as well as any other major competition I've been involved in judging. Long live poetry, in its infinite variety.
Long and short lists 2014
The Plough Prize Poetry Competition 2014 long and short lists are available for download below:
Attachments: Poetry Short List 2014.docx [Plough Prize Poetry Competition 2014 Short List (MS Word format)] 13 kB Poetry Short List 2014.pdf [Plough Prize Poetry Competition 2014 Short List (PDF)] 200 kB The Plough Prize 2014 Long List.docx [Plough Prize Poetry Competition 2014 Long List (MS Word format)] 14 kB The Plough Prize 2014 Long List.pdf [Plough Prize Poetry Competition 2014 Long List (PDF)] 278 kB
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