'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.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

Hello. I’m offering three @PoetrySociety surgeries on Saturday, March 14 at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I’d love to read and discuss your poems in this gorgeous venue. poetrysociety.org.uk/event/rozbrumm… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Midlands & Birmingham poets! Grab this chance for feedback on your poems with @rozgoddard at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a world class museum in the heart of Birmingham. BOOKING NOW for Saturday 14 March 2020 @BM_AG poetrysociety.org.uk/event/rozbrumm…

test Twitter Media - Midlands & Birmingham poets! Grab this chance for feedback on your poems with @rozgoddard at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a world class museum in the heart of Birmingham. 

BOOKING NOW for Saturday 14 March 2020

@BM_AG 

https://t.co/FygFzMj7Av https://t.co/jlKnlmabMD
test Twitter Media - Midlands & Birmingham poets! Grab this chance for feedback on your poems with @rozgoddard at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a world class museum in the heart of Birmingham. 

BOOKING NOW for Saturday 14 March 2020

@BM_AG 

https://t.co/FygFzMj7Av https://t.co/jlKnlmabMD
test Twitter Media - Midlands & Birmingham poets! Grab this chance for feedback on your poems with @rozgoddard at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a world class museum in the heart of Birmingham. 

BOOKING NOW for Saturday 14 March 2020

@BM_AG 

https://t.co/FygFzMj7Av https://t.co/jlKnlmabMD

#freeverse20 publishers @DandWpublishing host regular lively readings at the Poetry Café. Their backlist is just as lively – have a look at dempseyandwindle.com

test Twitter Media - #freeverse20 publishers @DandWpublishing host regular lively readings at the Poetry Café. Their backlist is just as lively – have a look at https://t.co/TpteTHOtrW https://t.co/JDruPtPSqr

Five years ago, @marchaynes and @MichaelRosenYes made a powerful Radio 4 doc for #HolocaustMemorialDay which is still on @BBCSounds and still well worth a listen bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b0… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

On #HolocaustMemorialDay we remember & mourn. Thanks @MichaelRosenYes for new poem 'Never Again' & moving words at #Cambridge civic commemoration inspiring school poets, singers, dancers, actors to perform for our theme #StandTogether #HMD2020 #NeverAgain vimeo.com/387437691 Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Margaret Atwood to publish first poetry collection in a decade. @MargaretAtwood theguardian.com/books/2020/jan…

A special anthology by @pamenarpress to commemorate a special exhibition! Available to buy at the launch of Temporary Spaces, this Wednesday at the @PoetrySociety Café (7.30pm)💘 Retweeted by The Poetry Society