Results of the May 2014 competition are as follows:
I received fewer entries for the May competition than I did for the November competition, this seems to be a pattern. Most of the entries were from the UK and maybe people are thinking more about writing on autumn evenings than on bright spring days. Nevertheless the standard was high and I received some excellent poems, making the choice a difficult one. In the end there were two that I kept returning to and after further consideration these became winner and runner up. Catherine Foster’s That Night is a poem that really stood out. Reminiscent of the gales and storms we had during the winter of 2013/14 here in the UK the poem presents an excellent image of the rough weather and the contrasting idea of falling asleep in bed whilst it is all going on outside. Second is Noel King’s excellently written poem Cutting your Toenails every Second Saturday Night, which illustrates an excellent opposition between youth and age and yet reminds us that youth turns to age in the end. The other poems that made it to the top five were Jonathan Cweorth’s highly entertaining sonnet, Queen Elizabeth I’s Wardrobe Book (3rd), Indian Match Girl, another poem by Joanne Feltham (4th) and Celia Palmer’s The Hourglass, (5th) which comments on the childlessness experienced by the baby boom generation of women who focused on careers, later finding that they had missed out on motherhood. The range of topics I receive in the competitions is one of the things that I find interesting and , as you can see, this time was no exception.
Here is the winning poem ‘That Night’ by Catherine Foster:
Muscles flexed, a crouching gale hoists
itself up, yowls biblical lamentations; belly
and heft of it hoik tiles and chimney cowls
from rooftops. Thunder grouches
in the distance, slams its clenched fist
on bruised clouds. Zippers of lightning
sizzle overhead – searchlights
startling the night. Prowling
over shoulders of nearby hills, rain
fumbles in tousled tops of firs, bleeds
down branches, shushes through valleys
to give suck to starched earth,
to larrup city streets.
The skirl ofthis storm serenades
our nocturnal jousting, its tide
into a drenched sleep,
as the wind whimpers into quiescence.
Cutting your Toenails every Second Saturday Night
You washed your feet in a basin first,
then towel-dried and walked flags to the fire
where, with an aahh, you hoisted up your porkies.
I sat on a foot stool, put my mind away
on Rock Hudson or other filmees
– after all it was you gave me the money
to go to ‘The Pictures’, Dad.
I clipped and gathered with a dustpan,
listened to your toenails sparkle in the range.
But I never exposed mine;
no one to clip and shape mine.
I cut my own – thank you very much –
until I could no longer reach my feet.
An orderly in this nursing place
cuts them these days.
This is part of Noel King’s forthcoming (Autumn, 2015) collection entitled SONS, from Salmon Poetry.
Noel King was born and lives in Tralee. His poems, haiku, short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in magazines and journals in thirty-seven countries. His poetry collections are published by Salmon Poetry: Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons (forthcoming in 2015). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others.
Shortlisted entries ( in no particular order)
Joanne Feltham – Weeping Willow
Sue Benwell – Drover’s Bridge
Andy Fawthrop – Autumn Damp
Andy Fawthrop – Tree
Catherine Foster – What’s in a name?
Shirley Anne Cook – Eight
Jonathan Cweorth – Voyager Two, 1977
John Darley – Observations of a Spring Holiday in Scotland
Bernie Laverty – Intolerable Journey
Shalett Joseph – Jolted Dream : 2030
Thank you for your interest in my competition.
I would like to thank the New Zealand Poetry Society for regularly listing my competitions on their site.