Winning Poems 2012
Below are the winning poems for the 2012 Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition. The placing was revealed at the prize-giving ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival at 7.00pm on Saturday 18th August.
The list of commended poems for 2012 can be found here.
1st Prize: The Kids - by Jen Hadfield
Born too soon,
Monday's child was not ready to be seen;
is destined to be early for ever.
She has a slice of red pepper
like a question mark.
The volcanic breath of Tuesday's child!
He remembers where poetry comes from;
the literal potential of things,
which means he's can't eat broccoli –
seeing it right, a tiny indigestible oak.
He eats grated cheese with a teaspoon,
assisting it with a finger.
The hidden's the vocation of bird-like Wednesday's child,
perfecting her dustbaths with sweeping boughs of pine.
She can find anything hidden in the dark,
as a cat finds a rabbit –
by the steam escaping
Thursday's child says he saw Wednesday's child
run so fast she began to fly.
Thursday's child shall be called a liar.
Friday is afraid of the suit of spades
and jigsaw pieces the shape of the suit of spades.
She's afraid of plug-sockets, pylons,
dams, flowered wallpaper.
She knows what magic is –
the stress we're under.
Saturday's child is still growing into her eyes,
lamps above her chin, a frog's eyes
surfacing the muds of winter.
She can't help what she does and doesn't see –
salting away what she sees
Sunday child's knows what blasphemy is
and where the devil's grave.
He makes the lovely graves
of long grass and speedwell.
Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland and works as a writer, writing tutor and visual artist. Her collections 'Almanacs' and 'Nigh-No-Place' are published by Bloodaxe, and she's currently working on a third, tentatively titled 'Byssus'. She blogs intermittently, at rogueseeds.blogspot.com
2nd Prize: Look Hamewards, Now - by Mike Vallely
They foun' this picture in Moargan's attic,
dand'ly-drest fur a beano, blue velvet,
le smoking. Thick horn-rims, hair fantastic,
Eddie frae the Gie's mair Hillbilly set.
Perjink. Unco douce tones, risen' up high
like bubbles fae fermented giggles fly.
Gey goofy, boundin'oan like a trouper.
Charm us sleekit rabble - jammy number.
Next, Hobsbum performs "Byggfarts". Then Lars Triet-
Thoats spewin' up metaphysical shite.
Whit? kowtow afore Jobsworth's cheese platters?
Jist daft dreams. Art really doesnae matter.
Mony opusculae maks Makar-lite.
Mony a tickle marks a tussle: night-
loves kettled close, fear o' kuklux Knoxians.
See they last pix? that gurnin' botoxian?
- flush doon the pan! Gie's whoring, no' boring
concrete wingdings stuck 'ntae typogryphons.
Gie's biker tatts, aye piercin's, (wheesht, morons).
'Pioneer hormone, likes bush craft, explorin.'
Sixities' wild-child - glaekit mirror-dodger
nivir! Lines o' blister pills? puir sod y'are.
Paddiesmarkit boys here'll fillet yer shelves,
sook the right rer bits aff yer banes theirsel'.
Whiles great Irwin Ginster toasts doon inhell
yer vegan breakfast, ringin' finger bells.
Baith twirl their matchin' kaftans, "Kick ass, yo.
Th'morra, fresh khubz wi' dried lime tea." "Tae go."
Mike Vallely. Born Lanarkshire 1948. University of Glasgow MA Hons English 1968 and M. Litt. 1970 Milton research. Management career in major organisation London and southern England. Antiquarian bookseller, collector and researcher.
3rd Prize: The Perils of Surgery - by Malcolm Watson
One of Hammurabi's laws decreed that if a doctor killed
a patient or destroyed his sight, then he should lose his hand.
Gutram, King of Burgundy, had the sorry surgeons of his queen
(who died after her operation) slaughtered on her marble tomb.
The man who failed to cure the blindness of Bohemian King John
was bound and tipped into the Oder. Even he was luckier than
the unsuccessful operator on the twelfth Pope John (- burned
at the stake) or the other whose deficient competence still
failed to shoo his death away (- flayed by the Pontiff's pals).
2-10 on theatres, before I settle down to War and Peace,
I have to tidy up the shambles of the changing rooms.
I stuff the reeking gowns and caps into the laundry bins and start
to clean the blood and pus and lymph and snot off twenty pairs
of surgeons' wellingtons and clogs with Vim and ether, cloth
and scrubbing brush. Some consultants favour tennis shoes.
Every boot and shoe is white (or used to be) and must be
married to its mate and buffed up spotless, good as new.
After a heavy list of ops in all four theatres, another heap
of leaking bags must be delivered to the sweating keeper
of the furnace door. Certes, here is all God's plenty
in a jumble on the floor: neatly-labelled leg or kidney,
lights and lungs and eyes and breasts and spleen,
and Lord knows what.
The surgeons, not surprisingly, have fled the scene.
Malcolm Watson is an artist living in Hull. He was encouraged to continue writing poetry by Philip Larkin while reading for his first degree in English at the University of Hull. He has been widely anthologized and has won prizes in many competitions, including in the National Poetry Competitions of 2006 and 2008. He won first prize in the Basil Bunting Awards 2010, first prize in the Stafford Poetry competition 2011 and first prize in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2011. In 2012, he won first prize in the Larkin and East Riding Poetry Competition.
Runner-up: forest glass - by Kathrine Sowerby
they sit with their backs to me the scientists
on trampled bluebells black jackets harlequinned
with small angles of light and shade
I stay under the cover of ferns where the nightjar nests
eat stolen eggs while they
dip their bread and pickles in warm gin
unfurl silk handkerchiefs and bask like adders
on crushed bedding play fiddleheads
a razor in my pocket I slice dead stems from the mulch
suck the sting from cuts on my fingers
and through parted leaves I watch
swifts fly gold map winged
Kathrine Sowerby is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art’s MFA programme and Glasgow University’s MLitt in Creative Writing. In 2010 she was a Clydebuilt mentee and her poems, stories and novel extracts have featured in journals and anthologies including Gutter, 2HB, New Writing Scotland, Fractured West and Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2012. She lives in Glasgow with her partner and three children.
Runner-up: Peach - by Daisy Behagg
Sunbathing on the lawn, you watch
the way the ants crawling up your empty water glass
around the white-fogged patch
of your fingerprint. You remember earlier,
taking a white peach from the bowl,
thinking slicing would be tidier, in front of him.
Mostly out of laziness – the sun,
the new ease between you and him –
you bit into it whole.
Juice ran from your lips and chin
to stain your dress, pieces of flesh
staying behind in your teeth.
You wonder if the ants are eating tiny molecules of peach,
or what ese from your day could've been left behind.
The tiniest flakes of you, maybe.
Do ants eat human skin?
You remember how last night, over you,
he raised his hand - the strange shock you felt
when he put his fingers in your mouth,
watching, wanting you to taste yourself.
Daisy Behagg grew up on the South Coast near Brighton and now lives in Bristol. She has a BA and MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has published poems in The Rialto, Poetry Wales, The North and Ambit.