'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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Spring Issue of Poetry Review has me gripped all the way to Edinburgh! Incandescent poems by younger poets and how wonderful that goddess Sharon Olds burns as brightly as ever. While I’ve been writing novels poetry seems to have exploded into variousness. Hurrah! Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Lord Byron's statue in Rome's Villa Borghese gardens, just behind @Keats_Shelley. As we have written before: are we alone in thinking the broken book in his left hand makes it look like Byron is brooding in the middle of his lunchtime sandwich? For @KSAAcomm. Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Zaffar Kunial: ‘Muhammad Ali gave me his autograph in Moseley – I kept it in my Parka’ theguardian.com/books/2019/apr…

“Teaching has really taught me a lot about self care … I’m just not interested in any overly romanticised idea of poetry and pain and death, I’m not here to create that to be applauded.” @RaymondAntrobus chats w/ @no1_emily (on @PoetrySociety) bit.ly/2GklLpq Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Hey poetry pals! Only 10 tickets left now for a great night celebrating D/deaf and disabled poetry at the @PoetrySociety #poetrycafe on 4 May. We've got @RaymondAntrobus @abipalmer_bot & @a_tired_cliche. Oh and I'll be launching my debut collection too. eventbrite.co.uk/e/access-all-p… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Theresa Lola named young people's laureate for London theguardian.com/books/2019/apr… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

"Poetry is the most accessible that it’s ever been – with the click of a button you can share your work with almost everyone in the world." We've been speaking to #FoyleYoungPoet and @BhamCityCouncil #YoungPoetLaureate Aliyah Begum! Read on: bit.ly/brumlaureates Retweeted by The Poetry Society

#OnThisDay 19th April 1824. Lord Byron dies in Messolonghi, Greece. To this day, the name ‘Vyron’, the Greek form of ‘Byron’, is a popular boy’s name in Greece. A suburb of Athens is called Vyronas in his honour. Painting by Joseph-Denis Odevaere. Retweeted by The Poetry Society

‘Seferis’ extraordinary gift occupies … the realm of the marvellous real.’ Delighted to hear G. Seferis' 'Complete Poems' from our Classics series so favourably discussed @PoetrySociety! poetrysociety.org.uk/review-blood-a… Find the great Greek poet's work: carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexe… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Had the best time at the Poetry Review launch on Wed night reading w/ @InuaEllams and @hatefuldaughter. Thanks @PoetrySociety for being fab Retweeted by The Poetry Society