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The Bridport Prize closing date 31st May

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International open competition founded in 1973. Poetry Category: 1st prize £5,000 / 2nd prize £1,000 / 3rd prize £500 plus ten highly commended awards of £100. Poems max 42 lines.

Poetry Judge Lemn Sissay. The winning and highly commended poems, short stories and flash fiction are published in an annual anthology. Winners are notified in September and the results will be published on the Bridport prize website on 21 October 2017.

It does cost a whopping £9 per poem to enter….!!

 

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Lemn says, “It feels difficult to say what I am looking for in your poems because to find what I didn’t realise I was  looking for is the experience of reading a good poem.  Except to say I want your poem to electrify me, seduce me, grip me by the neck, carry me, whisper to me and sing to me. All of these things or one of them and much more. I am in the privileged and honored position of being your reader. I come to your work with an open mind and heart in the hope that I will be moved by your words”.

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Redrafting a Poem – curiouser and curiouser …

When we think of editing and redrafting we often think about paring down, getting rid of extraneous words. We look at word choice, layout, structure, titles, and opening lines. The main purpose being to ensure our poem is as strong as possible – to look at it closely and interrogate each line – and we make edits that bring out its natural power.

But before I write about editing down (a later post) I thought I’d share the journey of one of my commissioned poems which grew with each draft. You may prefer the early version, the ultimate, or one of those in between, but I plumped for the last (or at least stopped there). The penultimate and final version differ only in the ordering of one line which I realised was crucial but it took me this long to spot it!

Commissions are hard, and this one for the Alice in Wonderland centenary was especially so, for two reasons. Firstly, I was kind of commissioning myself for an Ekphrasis project (see here) and secondly, as it was in an anthology it would rub alongside 60 others, so I needed my poem to be “mine” and not to sound as if it could have been written by anyone. So I “uniqued” it – brought in a favourite band from my youth and put Alice in the heart of 1980s Woking. I love specifics in poems too, so threw in the name of a pub (and yes I Googled it to make sure it was real).

The image of Alice I had stuck in my head was by Brian Moser:

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So, a bit like Alice herself my poem grew…

.

The trouble of getting up and picking daisies

Because there’s still mud smudged down my dress
by hands too small to contain soil in its creeks

and rivers, I draw lines, as if to cross myself out,
with the stub of each finger. I ought to be ashamed

of myself. But am not. Sometimes I think I can undo
everything like a trick unravelling itself until

something unlost is tragically found. For one time only
I untelescope limbs, listen to clocks untick ‒

nothing is lost as I do it. I meet my arms in parallel lines
halfway down to the uninvited place ‒ femurs jolt.

You can date me by the scattering of bones, scraps
of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops.

*

Daisy-chains and downers
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground) – Paul Weller

Because there’s still mud smudged down my dress
by hands too small to contain soil in their creeks

and rivers, I draw lines, as if to cross myself out
with the stub of each finger. I ought to be ashamed

of myself. Sometimes I think I can undo everything
like a trick that unravels itself until something

unvanished is magically found. For one day only
I untelescope, listen to clocks untick; nothing is lost

as I do it. Time slackens, parts its lips. I go under;
arms skitter halfway down to the unwelcome place ‒

legs shimmer their image in a mirror’s cockeyed curve,
femurs jolt at rock-bottom, the pits, blue funk.

You can date me by the scattering of bones, scraps
of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops.​

*

Daisy Chains and Downers in a Town Called Malice
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground) ‒ Paul Weller

Because there’s still mud smudged down my dress
by hands too small to contain soil in their creeks

and rivers, I draw lines, as if to cross myself out
with the stub of each finger. I ought to be ashamed

of myself hanging out on Stanley Road after dark,
like a groupie, struggling to get in the Birch & Pines ‒

but I’m not. I think I can undo everything on
the Sheerwater Estate, like a trick that unravels itself

until something unvanished is magically found.
Tonight I untelescope, listen to clocks untick,

nothing is lost as I do it. Time slackens outside
the working men’s club and Walton Road parts its lips.

My arms skitter, halfway down to the unwelcome place,
Underground my name’s uncomfortable in my mouth,

legs shimmer their image in the mirror’s cockeyed curve,
femurs jolt at rock-bottom, the pits, blue funk.

You can date me by bone density, scraps
of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops.

*

Daisy Chains and Downers
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground) ‒ Paul Weller

Because there’s still mud smudged down my dress
by hands too small to contain soil in their creeks

and rivers, I draw lines, as if to cross myself out
with the stub of each finger, drop daisies in the gutter.

I ought to be ashamed of myself hanging out
on Stanley Road after dark, like a groupie

struggling to get in to the Birch & Pines ‒
but I’m not. I think I can undo everything

like a trick that unravels itself until something
unvanished is magically found. Tonight

I untelescope, listen to clocks untick, nothing
is lost as I do it. Outside the working men’s club

time slackens, Walton Road parts its lips, exhales.
I slip down to the unwelcome place –

underground my name’s uncomfortable in my mouth,
I was a different person then. Arms and legs skim

their image in the mirror’s cock-eyed curve,
femurs jolt at rock-bottom, the pits, blue funk.

You can date me by bone density, scraps
of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops.

*

Daisy Chains and Downers
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground) ‒ Paul Weller

Because there’s still mud smudged down my dress
by hands too small to contain soil in their creeks

and rivers, I draw lines with the stub of each finger
as if to cross myself out. Drop daisies in the gutter.

I ought to be ashamed of myself hanging out
on Stanley Road after dark, like a groupie

struggling to get in to the Birch & Pines ‒
but I’m not. I think I can undo everything

like a trick that unravels itself until something
unvanished is magically found. Tonight

I untelescope, listen to clocks untick, nothing
is lost as I do it. Outside the working men’s club

time slackens, Walton Road parts its lips, exhales.
I slip down to the unwelcome place –

underground my name’s uncomfortable in my mouth,
I was a different person then. Arms and legs skim

their image in the mirror’s cock-eyed curve,
femurs jolt at rock-bottom, the pits, blue funk.

You can date me by bone density, scraps
of fabric, the shape my heart makes as it stops.

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Power of Poetry and Memory Loss

As part of the National Memory Day project, poet Karen Hayes created a poem using lines contributed by people whose lives have been touched by dementia; read here by researchers, poets and supporters of the National Memory Day Project.

The first line was contributed by Sir Andrew Motion, President of National Memory Day and former Poet Laureate.

Please do contribute your poems on the subject of memory via the comments box below.

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The Frogmore Prize – closing date 31st May 2017

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The winner of the Frogmore Poetry Prize for 2017 will receive two hundred and fifty guineas and a two-year subscription to The Frogmore Papers. The first and second runners-up will receive seventy-five and fifty guineas respectively and a year’s subscription to The Frogmore Papers. Shortlisted poets will receive copies of selected Frogmore Press publications.

Previous winners of the Prize have been David Satherley, Caroline Price, Bill Headdon, John Latham, Diane Brown, Tobias Hill, Mario Petrucci, Gina Wilson, Ross Cogan, Joan Benner, Ann Alexander, Gerald Watts, Katy Darby, David Angel, Howard Wright, Julie-ann Rowell, Arlene Ang, Peter Marshall, Gill Andrews, A K S Shaw, Sharon Black, Emily Wills, Lesley Saunders, Sarah Barr and Eve Jackson.

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Adjudicator: Maggie Butt

She is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Degrees of Twilight (The London Magazine, 2015). She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Kent.

 

 

FULL DETAILS HERE

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Two poems from Claire Walker

The Fishwife

They say I was not born to this,
my voice soft as sun-warmed sand,
lost to the fetch of a wave.

He rises before dawn,
throws his nets to the daybreak sea,
works his bones on the water.

I walk the markets with his catch,
a haul all gleaming scales and ice,
framed in quiet harbour light.

Love doesn’t pack neatly into crates –
and he loves me, the hushed
ripples of my words.

At night, I bathe the salt from his hands,
moor his deck-worn body with shanties
that whisper a sea’s beat.

.
Lone Stag

I see him, as I tie the beans to bamboo,
secure our supplies against twilight.
Lone stag, antlers open to fading sky,
only the low, splintered fence between us.

I move slowly – intrigued, sliding my feet – and there we are,
faces close, his nose jutting over the divide.
He smells food, but his eyes rest on me,
gentle brown irises weighing his provider.

My hand finds his coat, soft against muscle,
the mottled baby-back long outgrown.
Reaching his neck I touch cool antlers,
feel the even planes that fork to weather.

.
Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines and on websites including The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Ink Sweat and Tears, And Other Poetry, and Clear Poetry, and in anthologies such as The Chronicles of Eve (Paper Swans Press). She is a Poetry Reader for Three Drops Press, and her first pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, is published by V. Press.

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Brotherhood by Mark Greene

Brotherhood

You phoned in the amber hours of the night
to tell me of your latest love, and how –
if I didn’t mind the extra hassle –
you hoped I’d play a part at your wedding.

It stung like a snowball hitting my face
when you asked: “How ‘bout being my best man?”
because, in truth, all my speech could suggest
was that tales of youth are best left unsaid.

There was the time we tried playing Star Wars –
with you a Jedi, and me as Darth Maul.
But things quickly took a turn for the worse
when your head went clang on the kitchen sink.

And that time we went the police station
after fighting over the PlayStation.
or when mum told me I had to leave home
after I made you eat lumps of charcoal.

Most of all, I recall that day in spring
when I locked you in next door’s back garden;
and how I watched through the iron gate
as you got nipped by Felix, the dachshund.

But a few nights later you phoned again,
telling me in a voice which creaked and groaned:
“All that was once true love has turned to dust!”
and then you filled the line with bitter tears.

It wasn’t because your heart was broken
or that I wouldn’t need to buy a suit,
but I gave a smile on finding out
that your big day was well and truly kerplunked.

Looking back, I understand my relief
at not having to give a best man’s speech:
there should have been more to show from those years
than just the slow rot of our brotherhood.

.

Mark Greene is a poet, short-story writer and novelist. He was born on the Wirral but now works and lives in Sheffield. Mark has previously been published in Now Then, Platform for Prose, STORGYThe Cadaverine, Clear Poetry and Ink. magazine.

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Summer’s End by Belinda Rimmer

Summer’s End

Near summer’s end
we came to race boats
across the ford at Kineton.
We carried nets, Thermos Flasks,
wore red to deter wasps: family rituals.

Today the valley thrums with insects.
Ants, like magnetic particles,
draw to the surface;
I tread them back into the earth.

Vulnerable to drought,
the ford is a cobble-stoned puddle.
A belly full of silt will slow its journey
to the Thames.
No sound; no trickle or gush.

Two horses gallop over;
a faint smell of grass and peppermint.
Sensing fear, they shy away.

In this moment – birdsong,
ox eye daisy among dandelion,
variegated light –
it’s the way someone has fixed the rotten gate
with blue twine that captures me.

This one thing: the impermanence of wood.

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First published by the Gloucestershire Echo for their Poetry Page, 15th October, 2016

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Belinda Rimmer has been writing poetry for several years. Her poems have appeared in magazines, including, Brittle Star, Dream Catcher, ARTEMISpoetry and Obsessed with Pipework. Other poems have appeared on-line: Cloud Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, Ground, Writers Against Prejudice, along with others. A few poems have been accepted for anthologies too. To her surprise, she recently came second in her first ever Poetry Slam for World Book Day. She is studying for an undergraduate module in Poetry Writing at the University of Gloucestershire with poet Angela France. Her website is: www.belindarimmer.com

 

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Challenging As Is by Joe Balaz

CHALLENGING AS IS

Christine no can do it anymoa

visiting and trying to help out
wen she’s not even wun relative.

She feels kinnah bad
and hates to sound distant

but she knows
she gaddah tink about herself.

It must be wun very confusing
state of being

wen da sun is blotted
out of da sky

and all da familiar faces
no longer have any names.

Sitting deah
wit her ailing acquaintance

and observing da restless sea
from da surface

Christine fully realizes

dat she has no idea
wat is going on beneath da waves.

She’s struggling wit her compassion

and by no means can she imagine
wun halo above her head

cause lately she feels
as if she’s drawing inward.

Her world is hectic
and is challenging as is.

Dere’s no silver spoon
in her purse

dat she can fling at da clouds
to induce wun rainfall of plenty.

Christine has given everyting she can.

Wen she gets back to her own place
and accesses da new reality

she rationalizes and lets go
like many people eventually do.

Opening her refrigerator

Christine finds
dat wit all of her recent running around

she needs to get some fast food again

cause da only ting worth eating
is wun box of uncooked chicken

but da pieces are frozen solid
harder den her newly changed heart.

.

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American-English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, Juked, Otoliths, and Hawai’i Review, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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In a universe of infinite possibilities… by Jane Sharp

In a universe of infinite possibilities…

1.

I am a green budgerigar trapped in a metal cage,
I flap my green wings in frenzy, flustered, flightless: fearful
of that other bird head that continuously attacks,
as though I were Prometheus. It’s eternal torment.

I know that this flapping, this fidgeting, this hopping from
perch to perch, draws attention to my plight, in this open
box, swinging from the top of an up-cycled lampstand.
I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, come on, Joey’s a pretty boy.

2.

In this universe of infinite possibilities,
I am an alien flying a pre-war, post concord
paper aeroplane. Gliding in to land on a cornfield,
up to my ears in corn, reborn, fearing nothing, my wing
feathers tickling , settling down, smooth, green as a parakeet.

I know my arrival might draw attention from earthlings
so I pull a Bruce Willis (I’ve done my research) vest down
over my head, slide my legs into a pair of tight tights
till I resemble an Olympic gymnast, chalk my hands
my face, my feet – white, I am told, being better than green.

3.

In this universe of infinite possibilities,
I am the person sitting here writing this poem, green
as the greenest of poets, flexing invisible wings,
calm as a cross-legged yogi, quiet as the space between
semitones, unruffled as a well fed budgerigar.

Yet I feel like an alien in a pair of tight tights,
just landed on earth after being regurgitated
out of some black hole of the universe. I am bespoke,
modified, evolving into the space of my future.

.

Jane Sharp lives near Barnsley; she has been published in The Yorkshire Anthology, and The Dalesman. Her work has been read on Radio 4. She is a member of the Poetry Society Stanza North Kent group, and Shortlands Poetry Circle. Her novel Tears From the Sun – A Cretan Journey was written during her 18-year adventure in Crete. She has just completed her second novel (not yet published). Her blog can be found at: janesharp.org

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SW12 by Robert Ford

SW12

See it skulk away beyond the stewing river, failing
to hide its fraying underclothes, its grey jigsaw
of rooftops, ventilator pipes and rusting fire-escapes.
From the window seat of a coast-bound train, it
seems made from a sheet of crumpled foil, floating
across the looming skyline, punctured randomly by
chimney stacks and humourless towers, Victorian
attics studded with satellite dishes and praying mantis
aerials. Defunct white goods collect like bewildered
sheep in backyard pens ringed with brambles.
Even above the barking of the wheels at the rails,
its mutterings are audible, its fists shaking angrily at
midwinter stratus, forgetting yesterday, when every
single slate shone like a pilgrim, after the morning’s rain.

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Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Whale Road Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/