Imagine if we were suddenly given the supernatural ability to hear people’s thoughts. It’s a source of longing and desire – that feeling of almost wanting to climb into each other’s skins, to be so close to another human being that we could hear what they are thinking. From Plato’s Symposium comes the story that human beings were once paired, and the severing of the tie to their twin companion is what sends us out into the world, seeking connections with others. What if poetry itself could perform a kind of mending?
I had the pleasure at the beginning of October of going to the Big Poetry Weekend for the prize ceremony for the Battered Moons Poetry Competition, which I judged. I do a lot of reading with various editorial hats, but a poetry competition is something special. I always feel when I read intensely like this, as though I am getting little glimpses of people’s lives and thoughts, and that is a beautiful thing. Because it is a tender and vulnerable act to share a poem, and I really appreciated reading the entries.
The results are listed below.
1st prize, NJ Hynes, for her poem ‘The Moon Yawns and Keeps Yawning’.
2nd prize, Nicolette Golding for ‘Nonchalance’.
3rd prize, Sue Spiers for ‘Wheatfield with Cypresses’.
Michael Caines for ‘Industry’.
Christina Thatcher for ‘Detox Passage’.
Laura Potts for ‘Virginity’.
Ruth Sharman for ‘Dharga Road’
I also list a few comments as to why I enjoyed each poem:
Commended: Michael Caine’s ‘Industry’
What I enjoyed about this poem was its mastery in unfolding the line: how the phrasing and cadence drives us home to its inevitable, disorientating end, which questions the ethics of work and everyday behaviours that seem natural, normal, or transparent.
Commended: Christina Thatcher’s ‘Detox Passage’
What impressed me about this poem was how tightly written it is. The finely tuned language tightens around the obsessive behaviours of the addict depicted.
Commended: Laura Potts’ ‘Virginity‘
This poem struck me as uncompromising in its bleak beauty. The imagery is gorgeous, strange-making, eerie, and it offers a strongly evocative and intriguing portrait.
Commended: Ruth Sharman’s ‘The Dharga Road’
This thoughtful poem seeks to avoid exoticising and stereotypical representations of South East Asia, and I really appreciated its efforts to get beyond superficial impressions of place. There is also a note of commentary on belonging and exile as the poem turns to nostalgia at the end.
Third prize: Sue Spiers, Wheatfield With Cypresses
I liked this poem’s transactions with biography, truth, and art. It’s a poem as vivid as a painting itself.
Second prize: Nicolette Golding, ’Nonchalance’
I enjoyed this poem for its sensual description, its transformations, and its twists and turns. The finely tuned images impressed me, and the taut descriptions are enriching and thought-provoking.
First prize: NJ Hynes, ‘The Moon Yawns and Keeps Yawning’
This is a short but perfectly formed and important poem in the face of climate change, and the writing is beautifully clean and crisp. It is inspired by Charles Simic but creates an unique poem which speaks to urgency of environmental crisis, and reminds human beings that they are not necessary for the universe’s existence, not masters of our fates, but hubristic beings destined to extinction if we do not address our contribution to climate change.
You can read more about the poets here: http://www.batteredmoons.com/2019-the-poets/
You can read the poems here: http://www.batteredmoons.com/2019-the-poems/