This chapbook features the three winning poem sequences chosen by Judge Helen Mort. Entries are open to new, emerging and established poets and consist of eight poems not previously published in The Blue Nib.
Helen Mort writes in the introduction, “Trying to choose between poetry pamphlets is very different from choosing between individual poems… Judging pamphlets feels like a much slower, fuller process – to extend my tortuous and inappropriate analogy, it’s the fifth or sixth or seventh date. As I read and re-read these submissions, I found I was getting to know them like characters, like people. It’s a cliché to say it, but this was a difficult task. All the entries felt substantive and engaged with an impressive breadth of material. I was stuck by how outward-looking all the collections of poems were, how they refused insularity, self-pity and narrow focus. The entries which I gravitated to all had a searching intelligence to them, all showed a commitment to using poetry as a way of interrogating and understanding the world.”
Pat Anthony took First Prize, “Place and people are inextricably linked in this evocative collection of poems. They bristle with observational details that a less skillful writer might miss – a man pedals night into day, the moon is scrawled with the arpeggios of an accordion player. Each voice here is convincing and urgent. Memorable, exact and compelling.”
Extract from “Along the Manzanares”,
“the night air of Madrid wrapping
around our shoulders with
dusky blues until we are
that lover caught up in his
serenade, singing his adoration
to the Lady of Spain even as
he contends with the bowing
and scraping of violins
across the water
where orchestras play a cadence
to his pining accordion and
notes lodge in the diamonds
of the hurricane fence hanging
bubbles too delicate to pop”
Mike Farren took Second Prize, “From the first poem in this collection, I was intrigued and hooked by the strange confidence of the work… The pieces that follow are richly sensory – ‘summer smells of money’, the body is a quarry. Alert and attentive writing, poems suffused with an original language for memory.”
Extract from “Antlers”,
have the equipment
“Find them on the forest floor:
they are necessary,
they are sufficient,
they are yours.
Clamp them to your temples.
Sharon Flynn took Third Prize, “From the first, these poems feel like recipes, full of rich details and imperatives. In one piece, surgery before pain relief is described with a clarity that makes the reader shudder. Visceral and haunting, unabashed and sharply observed, full of found material curated with skill and emotion, which is no mean feat.”
Extract from “Recipe for the Somniferous Sponge of Ugone de Lucca”
.“ Mix in a brazen vessel.
Place in it a sponge, seized from the ocean,
and boil the whole as long as the sun shines
in the dog-star-days or until the sponge
hath consumed it all.
. Make the sea-sponge damp
and hot. Apply to the nostrils. When sleep
has been inhaled, let surgery commence.”