'The posh mums are boxing in the square' was the winner of the 2018 National Poetry Competition.

From the judges: "It seems unfair at times that poetry, one of the chief articulators of our deepest sentiments, should be required in the same breath to avoid sentimentality. But when you see it done, as it is done so well in ‘The posh mums are boxing in the square’ it takes your breath away – a mother reimagined into life, risen from her bed and given boxing gloves to fight off a terrible illness. The title and the set up are so wonderfully absurd, we are led smiling into a poem that hits us in our own gut with its devastating gravitas." - Kei Miller

The posh mums are boxing in the square

by Wayne Holloway-Smith

roughing each other up    in a nice way
This is not the world into which I was born
           so I’m changing it
I’m sinking deep into the past and dressing my own mum
in their blue spandexes
svelte black stripes from hip to hem
and husbands with better dispositions toward kindness
or at least    I’m giving her new lungs
I’m giving her a best friend    with no problems and both of them pads
some gloves to go at each other with    in a nice way
I’m making it a warm day for them but also
I’m making it rain
the two of them dapping it out in long shadows
I’m watching her from the trees grow
strength in her thighs    my mum
grow strength in her glutes my mum
her back taught upright
her knees
and watching her grow no bad thing in her stomach no tumour
her feet do not hurt to touch    my mum she is hopping
sinews are happening
wiry arms developing their full reach
no bad thing explodes

sweat and not gradual death    I’m cheering
no thing in her stomach no alcohol
no cigarettes with their crotonaldehyde let my dad keep those
no removal of her womb
– and I’m cheering her on in better condition
cheering she is learning to fight for her own body
in spandex her new life
and though there is no beef between them
if her friend is gaining the upper hand
I will call out from the trees
          her name
                          Christine!
and when she turns    as turn she must
my mum           in the nicest possible way
can slug her right in the gut

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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"When citizens are voting based not on facts, but on political narratives, we need poets to talk about climate change." Ahead of tomorrow's #climatestrike, #SLAMbassador Matt Sowerby writes about poetry and climate change: bit.ly/climatepoetry1 Are you joining #WeekForFuture? Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Hello gorgeous poets. I’d love to have an involved conversation with you about your poetry in November 💛 twitter.com/PoetrySociety/… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Two innovative new vending machines were launched at the University of Lincoln this week, but instead of the usual chocolate and crisps it will dispense poetry. The machines aim to make literature more accessible in public places. thelincolnite.co.uk/2019/09/introd…

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London! I’ll be reading in the @PoetrySociety cafe on Monday at 7pm as part of this poetry pamphlet launch party. It’s up there with the time I celebrated my birthday in Dundonald Ice Bowl in 1991 in a red leather jacket. Can’t wait to hear these guys. twitter.com/TheEmmaPress/s… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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Keats discusses Twitter, 200 years ago #ToAutumn #AheadOfHisTime And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.