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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Lovers of poetry, translation and multilingualism: Don't miss this! Wednesday December 5 @PoetrySociety's The Poetry Café. Book your tickets here bit.ly/bustanipower twitter.com/PoetrySociety/… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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Hear Phoebe Power (winner of the 2018 @ForwardPrizes Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection) read alongside celebrated Jordanian poet Hisham Bustani on a rare visit to the UK. Weds 5 December @ The Poetry Café: book your ticket at bit.ly/bustanipower

test Twitter Media - Hear Phoebe Power (winner of the 2018 @ForwardPrizes Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection) read alongside celebrated Jordanian poet Hisham Bustani on a rare visit to the UK. Weds 5 December @ The Poetry Café: book your ticket at https://t.co/uH8x9GP9ST https://t.co/CtCdtkAx8i

🍾 shortlist for the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets has been announced & includes @PoetrySociety Member Gina Wilson's ‘It Was and It Wasn’t’ (Mariscat Press). Congratulations to Gina & Liz @MissLizBerry, Ian Parks, Rakshan Rizwan & Carol Rumens poetrysociety.org.uk/news/ginawilso…

test Twitter Media - 🍾 shortlist for the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets has been announced & includes @PoetrySociety Member Gina Wilson's ‘It Was and It Wasn’t’ (Mariscat Press). Congratulations to Gina & Liz @MissLizBerry, Ian Parks, Rakshan Rizwan & Carol Rumens

https://t.co/D9XuJdSZV7 https://t.co/kuWtqgFsLG

🍾 Berenice Kirwan, Christine York & Jason Still win 'Songs For The Unsung' in our latest prize draw. THANK YOU Grey Hen Press for the donation! ‘This beautiful compilation illuminates lives of the unseen and unheard, unheeded and, at times, hated' greyhenpress.com/books/

test Twitter Media - 🍾 Berenice Kirwan, Christine York & Jason Still win 'Songs For The Unsung' in our latest prize draw. THANK YOU Grey Hen Press for the donation! 

‘This beautiful compilation illuminates lives of the unseen and unheard, unheeded and, at times, hated'

https://t.co/BgHPnLwnI3 https://t.co/h3OA54Q16G

Today's picture: Coleridge's study in Highgate #RomanticsPics Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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Nominate the poems that speak to you of truth and loss for the new #NationalPoetryDay anthology buff.ly/2A3Z4nB #TellMeTheTruthAboutLife Retweeted by The Poetry Society

@PoetrySociety Moved to Birmingham, and in the middle of the move I discovered a copy of Roy Fisher's collected poems that I don't remember picking up at all. Started reading 'City' and absolutely delighted by it! Retweeted by The Poetry Society