'Corkscrew Hill Photo' is the winner of the National Poetry Competition 2014.

Filmpoem by James William Norton. Commissioned in collaboration with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem.

From the judges: "'Corkscrew Hill Photo' caught my eye when reading through a large batch of entries. It seemed to contain a strange mix of naivety and complexity. Its sonic effects were engrossing. Its phrasing was surprising and fresh – 'the casement steams with sunset', 'seagull clutter, gape of lime kiln'. Most of all, I couldn't quite grasp what it was about, but in the best of ways – I wanted to reread and make my own story from what I was being offered. Like all good poems, it offered the shared experience of writership and readership. It's not a typical ekphrastic poem, and I couldn't place it geographically or timewise (does it jump backwards and forwards?), but that didn't matter. It's a stunning poem which mixes sweetness, sentiment, the visual and a touch of the grotesque. I am glad we found it." – Roddy Lumsden

Corkscrew Hill Photo

by Roger Philip Dennis

All afternoon she counts the sounds
until the fly-specked room crackles with silence.
Even the song thrush noteless. A thick drizzle
trickles rivulets down the window pane,
smears distance on fields, curtains-off hills
and greens the sagged thatch,
aches in the creaking gate and screws
watering eye to misting glass:
a hearse skids slowly up the muddy lane,
blurs in droplets on a spider-web,
spins sideways into darkness…

     …rattling cough of cattle, rusty tractor,
     hinge of paint-peeled door, gears
     of cars forced to back in one-track lanes,
     buzz of pylons spanning the hum
     of outboards in the yachtsmen’s creek,
     yelp of kids in the converted Mill,
     the soft click-click of a camera-shutter
     up Corkscrew Hill…
   
The casement steams with sunset. She picks herself
up off the floor, mouth dry as mourner’s grin.
Her arm reaches, shakes, reaches again,
gathers the clattering jar from the shelf.

    “Cider?”
The landlord frowns, sniffing cat,
moth-ball, mould. She squares her back
on his fine view – the duck bob,
seagull clutter, gape of lime kiln.
    “And a nip of lovage,”
before he can point her
the off-licence hatch in the yard,
    “to keep out the damp!”
and smiles spittle.
Her flagon scrapes a scroll of varnish
the length of the bar’s stripped pine,
past bleating townies, past the regular’s chair
and the corner where the photographer
sits draining her valley
through a tilted lens.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has nearly 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

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