The winner is Winslow!
Pat Winslow (Oxford 2) is the winner of our Stanza Poetry Competition this year for her poem ‘The Contract’. Our judge, Ros Barber, says
“a persistently surprising poem, precise in its imagery and gentle in the tenuous rhymes of its couplets. So many striking lines.”
Our two joint runners-up are:
Thom Lloyd Evans (Brixton) for ‘Coffee Ring’
Ros:”Disarming in its approach, for we can imagine this is only about a coffee ring until we meet the final word.”
Robin Houghton (Hastings) for ‘Performance’.
Ros: “Of all the poems that listed what one might hear in silence, this was the most wide-ranging sensual experience.”
& the ten commended poems are:
Pam Job (Colchester) for ‘Towards Silence’
Maggie Butt (Palmers Green) for ‘The Sunday Night Commute from Bucharest to London’
Maggie Butt (Palmers Green) for ‘Batting Partnership: 34 Not Out’
Bernadette Lynch (Birmingham) for ‘Bringing Home the Cows’
Sarah Roby (Norwich) for ‘A Conversation in Fingers Between Sisters’
Con Connell (Southampton) for ‘No News’
Emma Danes (Cambridge) for ‘Solo’
Susan Utting (Reading) for ‘Elective Mute’
Janet Lancaster (South Leicestershire) for ‘7 Pregnant Silences’
Penny Ouvry (Metroland, Amersham) for ‘Silence’
Our judge, Ros Barber, chose from a record entry of 466 poems on the theme of ‘silence’ from 285 poets. The competition is in its tenth year, and open exclusively to Poetry Society Members who are also members of one of our Stanzas.
Ros: When you read through 466 responses to a single theme, certain shared proclivities surface. The thought ‘there’s no such thing as silence’ was a popular one. Recurring subjects included the silence of Quaker meetings, the silence of estranged couples, the silences left by the death of loved ones, the loss of hearing or speech that comes with age. Many people, it seems, have been struck by officials shouting ‘SILENZIO!’ in the Sistine Chapel. A few rather good poems didn’t seem to be about silence at all, or at least so obliquely that I couldn’t justify keeping the poem in the pile even though it had caught my eye – a poem about Loki, for example. The most difficult poems to read (and in the end, reluctantly pass over) were the poems of personal loss. I know from my own experience how difficult it is to write about the death of someone we love. But I was drawn, in to the end, to poems where not a word too many was used; poems which felt fresh and surprising, had a command of form, and an eye for a striking image: poems I wanted to read repeatedly, because there was always something more to be found.
History of the competition
The annual Stanza Competition began in 2007 and is open exclusively to Stanza members who are also Poetry Society members. Free entry. Prizes: The winning poet is given the choice of a free Poetry Prescription or a year’s Poetry Society membership – or the equivalent. There are two joint runners-up and ten commended poets. The theme for the competition is the antithesis or balance to that year’s National Poetry Day theme.
2015: Graham Burchell (Exeter), judged by Jo Bell
2014: Robin Houghton (Brighton), judged by Les Robinson
2013: Jan Bay-Petersen (Cambridge), judged by Neil Rollinson
2012: Angela Stoner (Penzance), judged by John Siddique
2011: Julia Webb (Norwich), judged by Carrie Etter
2010: Michael Swan (Oxford), judged by Sheenagh Pugh
2009: Julie Lumsden (Nottingham), judged by Philip Gross
2008: Rich Goodson (Nottingham), judged by Eleanor Cooke
2007: Emma Danes (Cambridge), judged by Roddy Lumsden