The Frogmore Poetry Prize for 2018 has been awarded to Emily Wills of Dursley, Gloucestershire for the poem ON THE SUBJECT OF FRACKING. She receives the sum of two hundred and fifty guineas and a two-year subscription to The Frogmore Papers.
The first runner-up is Poetry Society Member Rosie Jackson of Frome, Somerset for the poem THE HUMAN FORM DIVINE. She receives the sum of seventy-five guineas and a year’s subscription to The Frogmore Papers.
The second runner-up is also a Poetry Society Member, Carole Coates of Lancaster, for the poem WHAT WE WRITE ON STONES. She receives the sum of fifty guineas and a year’s subscription to The Frogmore Papers.
Poetry Society Members, too, on the shortlist: Wendy Klein and Miriam Patrick
BRIDGE by Jonathan Edwards
THE PIANIST AT THE GRAND by Jonathan Edwards
HOLLY MILLY MOLLY by Wendy Klein
BEES CAN’T SEE THE COLOUR RED by Jeni Mills
LANE by Miriam Patrick
FEED by Susannah Violette
MASTIC: ONE INGREDIENT by Margaret Wilmot
There are no sifters or pre-readers in the Frogmore adjudication, the poems are all read by one judge only. They arrived in a large pile, each with a number from 1 to 429 handwritten in the right- hand-side top corner, anonymous and naked. That’s the brilliant thing about adjudicating – exploring the world of each poem without any other context but the poem itself.
What do I look for? I look for poems which engage with the world, have an energy and spark about them, have character and are brilliantly written. I look for poems where the poet understands form, has edited for grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, line endings, rhythm…. I look for strong openings and strong last words. I look for originality of expression. I look to be excited by what I am reading regardless of subject matter. I look for the “Yes!” of recognition and for poems which confidently dive deep. Approximately two thirds of the poems fell at the first read through. The remaining third were re-read several times. Each reading whittled down the numbers remaining, although there was much regret in this filtering as poems were denied which had obvious strengths which more rigorous editing would have put firmly in the yes pile.
The final pile was 18 poems. Still too many! These I re-read, read aloud, mulled over until arriving at the last ten.
The first prize goes to ‘On the subject of Fracking’. This poem describes the death of a friend and how the son of the friend is affected by that grief in adulthood. This is a confident and moving account. The poem moved me every time I read it. There’s a deep sense of the caring relationship between the speaker and the child’s parent. The comparison between fracking and grief is applied very delicately.
Second Prize goes to ‘The Human Form Divine’ in which the protagonist of the poem is a medical student, learning through darning as part of an art residency, something profound about “the riddle of life” and how to “stand now in front of each derelict self with tender curiosity”.
Third prize goes to ‘What we write on stones’ which is a beautifully evocative poem about remembrance, life and landscape ruminating on a particularly unusual epitaph found in a remote churchyard. “We put the dead in the earth then write to them” the poem says, ending at the atmospheric edge of land with “an oyster-catcher’s one-note cry”.
The places go to ‘Bridge’, ‘Mastic:one ingredient’, ‘Bees can’t see the colour red’, ‘Lane’, ‘Feed’, ‘holy milly molly’, ‘The Pianist at The Grand’. All of these are wonderful poems to which I wish I could have awarded more prizes.
It has been a privilege to read all the submitted poems. Congratulations to the winners but also to everyone who submitted.
27 September 2018