Jonathan Edwards wins Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition

Natalie Whittaker
Natalie Whittaker

Jonathan Edwards wins this year’s Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (Open Category), as judged by Helen Mort, for his poem ‘Kurt Cobain Proposes to Courtney Love, TJs, Newport, December 1991’.

In second place was Poetry Society Member Natalie Whittaker for ‘Stay’.

A dog’s shadow crosses the park, let loose
off its black lead it sniffs and is sole
eyewitness to empty booze bottles
tangled in nettles; the necromancy
and parliament of the previous evening
where we exercised our shadow dogs
on the slopes up to the smashed-glass hothouse,
fearing their size in the heartthrob dusk,
their stilt legs stretched and monstrous
as the sun sat obediently down.

Helen Mort:

“The winning poem, Jonathan Edwards’ brilliantly titled ‘Kurt Cobain Proposes to Courtney Love, TJs, Newport, December 1991’ is a narrative tour-de-force with a light touch. It manages to be surreal and utterly convincing at the same time and it filled me with a longing for the magic beneath the everyday, the sense that our lives proceed in their strange parallels, the sense that history might be happening under our noses. It’s also a celebration of places like ‘TJs’, places every town has. The second placed poem, Natalie Whittaker‘s ‘Stay’, is a crepuscular, taut lyric poem which I couldn’t get out of my head from the first time I read it. I was haunted by the ‘shadow dogs’, the obedience of the sun.”

The shortlist included Poetry Society Members Ann Heathcote, Alison Hill, Joan Michelson, Paul Stephenson, Alan Ward, and Jennifer Wong.

Poems were submitted in two categories: Open category (open to all poets over 18 years of age), and EAL category (open to all poets over 18 years of age who speak English as an Additional Language). The competition attracted a record number of entries with more than 1200 entries from over 500 different poets. 

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4 December 2017