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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Now THIS is an exciting preview. Privileged to be performing alongside @ShellyHarder and a range of other excellent poets as part of '@PoetsVersus Homelessness' at the @PoetrySociety on 7 March - hear them read now, come to the show and buy the anthology from @TonicStaPress twitter.com/apoemaweek/sta… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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This was a fascinating, complicated, enlightening & ultimately uplifting piece to write. Poetry has always been at literature's leading edge, formally & expressively; so it goes online & in the C21 too>> Generation next:the rise– and rise– of the new poets theguardian.com/books/2019/feb… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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Generation next: the rise – and rise – of the new poets theguardian.com/books/2019/feb…

32 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition Read a new poem by poet Geraldine Clarkson @GBClarkson from the latest Poetry @PoetryFound bit.ly/NPC40Clarksonp… 20th March, Kings Place bit.ly/npc40anniversa…

test Twitter Media - 32 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

Read a new poem by poet Geraldine Clarkson @GBClarkson from the latest Poetry @PoetryFound https://t.co/95eWtQdX65 

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test Twitter Media - 32 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

Read a new poem by poet Geraldine Clarkson @GBClarkson from the latest Poetry @PoetryFound https://t.co/95eWtQdX65 

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Sadly, Keats-Shelley House missed both Valentine's Day and John Keats' victory in @PoetrySociety #classiclovepoemcup. That tricky work-Twitter balance. To compensate, here is Robert '39 Steps' Donat reading Bright Star. Silky smooth. bit.ly/2SSlulP Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Delighted to announce our new Snow Poem Competition! Fabulous @CaroleBromley1 is editing Ten Poems about Snow for us and we’re looking for two brand new poems to include in her selection. Deadline 3rd June, free entry, one poem per poet only candlestickpress.co.uk/wp-content/upl… Retweeted by The Poetry Society