Winner of the Members' Poems competition in the Summer 2022 issue of Poetry News, on the theme of 'Magical Nature' judged by Ian Humphreys.

The title of this poem is “What’s the Title of this Poem?”

by Kathryn Bevis

And the first line explores that question. In fact, the whole 
first stanza sets it up, economically placing the reader 
in time and space, Late evening in November’s suburbs, 
a light rain,
 and introducing the poem’s triggering subject,
an urban fox, scratting for scraps in the bin-bag black.

Next, a stanza of rich description, all glittering tarmac
and streetlamps haloing the night. The fox’s coat is pictured 
as the hot-chilli pelt of three-day-old kebab, the bloom of rust 
on iron railings.
 Smell is often under-rated, so, He is the musk 
that marks alleyways behind the houses’ dreaming backs.


Now, something needs to happen (and a little soundplay 
wouldn’t go amiss here, a tinkle on the piano keys), 
His brush-tailed cry slashes a trail through star-hushed skies. Then 
it’s all action, action, action: Nothing slinks like him, nothing 
bites and slices, nothing ruts and gnaws and stinks like him.


There’s enough figuration so that we know it’s a poem 
we’re reading and not some other kind of text, not 
a takeaway menu, say, or a knock-knock joke. About 
two-thirds of the way in, there’s an epiphany, No-one 
sees as he sees. His flaming eyes sear the dark
, and the poem 

swivels away from a wry and slightly weary exploration 
of its own mechanics into something more unconscious,
more emotionally charged. A fear of — yet desire for —
the wild, the unknowable, is never stated but it’s everywhere 
from this point on, There is no-one so alone, alive, awake, alight.

Then a final image, a piece of metaphorical surprise, 
concrete yet suggestive. Clunky exposition at this stage 
would entirely derail the thing. As the poem dies, we’re left 
only with the noiseless, savage page, No-one rips flesh 
from the silence as he can — yes — even to its clean, white bone

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 5,000 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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