Skip to main content

THE WINNER OF THE FIFTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS....

Bridget Sprouls!

Our 5th Fortnight winner!
 
Sprouls' poems have appeared in Field, Map Literary, The New Yorker, The Stinging Fly, and elsewhere. She lives in New Jersey, USA.
 
Her winning poem 'Chatter' - she gets £280 as this was a double-fortnight contest - appears below.
 
The runners up are:
 
Meg Eden, for her poem 'spirit house'
 
and
 
Anders Howerton, for 'An Original Series'
 
In general, this was a very strong field of poets, and poems - over 350 - one of the strengths of this particular prize is that we receive submissions from across North America, but also the UK, Ireland and beyond.
 
Howerton's modern sonnet was contemporary, quirky and compelling in its digital age syntax - an original lyricism emerges here.
 
Eden is clearly a fine poet - her poem - long and discursive, filled with rich questions and surprising imagery, was both clever and profound - not easy to pull off.
 
Either could have won - however, having to choose among my three top poems, it came down to a sense of overall achievement - and by a hair's breadth, on this day, I chose 'Chatter'.
 
This poem's appeal and impressive tonal range is easy to see - it finds a very persuasively contemporary, personal, funny, but poetically savvy voice, and then extends, in quasi-Homeric, or shaggy-dog fashion, an exploration of lyric narrative and self-expression, in a way only the very best contemporary poets can manage. This is fluent, intelligent, skilful, and wonderful writing. A poem to share with friends and fellow poets, as a way to do poetry, thinking on one's verbal feet...
 
and the ending is so lovely, with its knowing echoes of Frost and Ransom.
 
 
Chatter
 
No one has lived here in decades, but now I do, 
so I shift the bookshelves when it rains
to catch soup from the ceiling, catch punch. 
I nail the upstairs blankets so the top one falls loose, 
like a focusing hood, letting me under to revel privately
in the bareness of the ocean. As temperatures fall, 
the dog and I keep bonding, folded up like tacos
in comforters and wool. He’s smart enough to stay there
while I boil water and crouch in the bath before work, keeping on
and steeping my sweater, listening to the plastic on the windows 
not do its job, not hold out the outside air. Some kook left a perfectly good—
only slightly rusted—fifty-millimetre telescope here, 
so the other night as the moon, like an unfelt cut, cropped up,
I climbed to the roof of a neighbor’s, a house more abandoned just newer, 
and shimmied, scrunch-faced, outside the atmosphere. In the distance, 
a humid light swallowed me. Then I swallowed it. But how to show this?
In summer, when eyelashes reflect inside your shades,
only thick as tree trunks, and you become a river observing 
some arid basin it once carved…. This morning the wind has knuckles, 
and the knocking sounds urgent. It may be time to nail 
more blankets up, say so long to daylight’s stencils on the floor, 
exaggerating paned openness, as my friend up the street claims
people in this town keep doing to his rear. He sees
more than I do and suffers for it, aware that we do not belong
by the shore, can’t afford it, simply put, not even at medium wage, 
not the way most bosses micromanage. Just floating in the surf, 
he gets screamed at by fishermen, their rods rigged 
with invisible flags of dominion, flags that can’t but whip
a light-footed sloth, an unambitious moss, in the face, 
as it gets colder and colder then warmer then snows.
 
poem by Bridget Sprouls, copyright 2017
 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…

THE WINNER OF THE SIXTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS...



Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand

JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.