Winner of The Poetry Society's Stanza Poetry Competition 2018 on the theme of 'Tradition', judged by Penelope Shuttle. Penelope: The structure of this poem is strong as iron. A foreboding sense of constraint powers it forward, exemplified by the iron of the scold’s bridle. It speaks to us of the misogyny that has bullied and humiliated women into submission and silence for centuries, and implies throughout that this repression continues by other means today. This poem glances productively at the MeToo movement, without ever dipping into polemic. There is a nuanced pun in the very term ‘scold’s bridle’, ie: = ‘bridal’, which this poem also offers us. To silence a person is to censor them, to control them, to deny their identity. The poem holds all these implications in an iron grasp. There’s not a wasted word. The poem is direct, unambiguous, shocking. The writer also includes another telling pun in the opening line; the phrase ‘that mother’s tongue’ also contains within it ‘mother-tongue’ and refers us, perhaps, to marginal languages, and the life experiences held within them, now endangered by the bigger languages (English, Mandarin, Spanish). We learn to speak, by and large, from our mothering. Our mothers give us our mother tongue, the gift of language. This poem sprang living and bold from the page. It inhabits the remit of the theme, ‘tradition’, to its fullest richest extent. Richard: I have four daughters and as a man you’re very conscious of how women make their way in the world. I have a strong background in history and I’m very aware of how women are muzzled metaphorically as well as literally.

A Traditional Cure

by Richard Westcott

To hold her down, that mother’s tongue,
you need an iron plate
to stop her scolding – a man-made tongue
rigid and silent in its strength.

Language can be tamed and tongues
be taught. All she can do is
dribble now, around that held-firm tongue
and utter baby sounds – no scolding words.

Her head is held in an iron frame
locked tight – we hold the key
to the cage we made, which holds
that tongue of hers, to teach it
to be soft again, no longer sharp.

And to crown it all, a little bell
to tell the world what she has done.

So behold a speechless scold
who can only nod her head
and shake her little clapper.

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 more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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test Twitter Media - Did you know we often share free stuff in The Poetry Café? We've just restocked on #PoemsontheUnderground posters and #FoyleYoungPoets 2018 anthologies - come and pick up yours today! (But please don't accidentally wander off with the books we do charge for...) https://t.co/oldgwmI3W3
test Twitter Media - Did you know we often share free stuff in The Poetry Café? We've just restocked on #PoemsontheUnderground posters and #FoyleYoungPoets 2018 anthologies - come and pick up yours today! (But please don't accidentally wander off with the books we do charge for...) https://t.co/oldgwmI3W3

Are you aged 25 or younger, or do you work with poets in this age range? We've been working with US poet Peter Kahn to challenge young writers to pen Golden Shovel poems. Check out the challenge on Young Poets Network and enter by 31 March - next... bit.ly/goldenshovels

Overripe in September they need to rest in the icebox, sitting with their bruises From Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan, shortlisted for the 2018 Ted Hughes Award #TedHughesShortlist poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/t…

test Twitter Media - Overripe in September they need to rest in the icebox, sitting with their bruises

From Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan, shortlisted for the 2018 Ted Hughes Award
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