Poetry Competitions

Ver Poets Open Competition 2017 Results

First Prize: A Short Narrative of Broodmares… by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Second Prize: Rooks by Peter Marshall

Third Prize: Tape Dispenser by Catherine Edmunds

Highly Commended:

  • Antlers by Margaret Wilmot
  • Lois Lane doesn’t die by Sarah Macleod
  • Motte by Howard Wright
  • Illuminated manuscript by Helen Overell

Commended:            

  • Large Print by Howard Wright
  • Cassandra’s Ghost to Hypatia, 415 CE by Bill Holloway
  • True by Brian Charlton
  • Totem by Julie-ann Rowell
  • Mother’s Pet by Rachel Goodman
  • Music and Movement by Kathy Pimlott

Selected:

  • Cocktails by Howard Wright
  • Corner Shop by Howard Wright
  • Snail by Helen Overell
  • Coal Dust by Catherine Edmunds
  • Terra Nova by Malcolm Watson
  • Inferno by Malcolm Watson
  • Saint Bride by Dominic James
  • Pilgrimage by Karen Dennison
  • Forest Gate by Chris Burroughes
  • Barbed Wire by Christopher Allan
  • Reintroduction by Carl Tomlinson
  • Savings by Kathy Pimlott
  • Montevideo by Ruth Higgins
  • Green Prayers by Julie-ann Rowell
  • Travoys ….. by Graham Burchell
  • Practical interests by Ian McEwen
  • Thirteen Ways… by Doreen Hinchliffe
  • Husbands by Diane Speakman
  • Here in these high-vaulted… by Kevin Maynard
  • Sharing the Cloud Room by David Mark Williams
  • Edens by Adrian Buckner
  • Silver Birch, window by Adrian Buckner
  • Sùla Sgeir by Sharon Black
  • The Blue Men by Sharon Black
  • Hair’s Weight by Claire Lynn 
  • At Tyne Watersmeet by Claire Lynn
  • Building Bridges by Stephen Boyce
  • Triangulation by Stephen Boyce
  • Station by Jane Kite
  • Going Away by Alan George
  • This Way Up by Barry Smith
  • Die form … by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Our competition anthology, The Ver Prize 2017, includes all of the above poems and Tamar Yoseloff’s report. All those included will receive a copy. Further copies can be ordered by sending a cheque for £4 (plus £1 p&p), made payable to Ver Poets, to 181 Sandridge Road, St Albans, Herts, AL1 4AH.


First Prize
A Short Narrative of Broodmares through Lairage, Raid and Sanctuary
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Forget what you think you know about mares
and keep them penned tight, minimal water.
There’s no sense of sistren with them,
their nostrils pulse like open wounds
to divine one other’s intent. Within seconds,
the muscle-memory of a stampede
could flicker its way across a shoulder,
or the alpha’s raised tail could rudder her
hind legs around, split a hock to its marrow.

ii

Although pre-dawn is the preferred time
for a raid, it’s always safer to let down the ramp
after night has paled to a low-ceiling sky.
Wait for the corrugated roofs to slouch free
of moonlight. A mare needs to look into
your face and measure the depth of your eyes.
She needs to gauge if your irises are too shallow
to take in half a dozen or so of her kind.

iii

At feeding, see how the dun’s black ears wither
and curl like dead leaves, as she presses them flat
to her neck, her nose newly seamed from the vet’s
hasty repair. The bay is tender as she nudges you,
but the chaff in your hand amounts to no more
than a feral trade. This is the realm of the barren
and the broken who refused to be broken.
The paddock breeze lifts the knots in their manes
and re-arranges them, strand by strand.

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Second Prize
Rooks
Peter Marshall

More than an hour ago,
the cast iron bells were courting
the rolling parish of my ancestors.
I am through
the whistling kissing gate
and walking on the waves of green blades.

At the hunting lodge,
the sporting guns break open.
Under the clutch
of tootling chimneys in the organ loft,
the living go their way
a little awkwardly in sheaves of peace.

They give me room
to raise the dead nailed down in brass.
With tabards of cream paper
and a black stick of wax,
I do my best.
I dress and undress the sleepers.

The shotguns
have been handfed.
They shout to life thankfully.
I hope they don’t salute me.
The rooks
will be back when I have left.

Their flaky dozens
are the image of my soul.
They will grub among the spent brass cartridges
and ratchet noisily
together in the elms again,
and bring me calm.

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Third Prize
Tape Dispenser
Catherine Edmunds

He exists in a land of telephones and Sellotape,
no computers, no internet.
Excitement is a drawing pin with a plastic-coated head.

In the square outside his office,
a band is playing brown music from fat instruments
beneath a black sun.
He thinks once the sun was white, hot, joyous,
but if he mentions this they tut-tut and tell him he is mad.

He is dead now, he should relax.

And when he talks about a time before,
they grow anxious, they shush him and they tell him
he mustn’t mention love. He must be practical.
They give him a box of paperclips, the gold ones, not the usual silver.
They think this will cheer him up.

But he remembers how love dies,
how a village drowns; he remembers Myfanwy,
who lived by the bridge. He sleeps a bitter slumber,
he asks her where she is now, and she grinds his heart with answers
that have nothing to do with him.

They give him a reel of Scotch tape,
the special type that you can write on with a pencil.
It has a dispenser. His heart lifts.

They have him now.

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Ten-Liners Members Competition 2016

Results:

First Prize:  Loss – Beliz McKenzie

Joint Second:  Addiction – Finola Holiday

Joint Second:  Children of Clay – Christopher Delaney          

Selected:

  • Beads of Bialystock  – David Mark Williams
  • Heron – Sylvia Banham
  • Clouds – Sylvia Banham
  • Garden City Suburb – Sylvia Banham
  • Stanley, Our Dog – Selwyn Veater
  • A Care Home – Selwyn Veater
  • “Not a Nail in It”– Brian Young
  • Crowded Carriage on the 8.02 Beliz McKenzie
  • Fog – Valerie Morton
  • First House – Valerie Morton
  • Impasse – Roy Batt
  • Garden in the Rain – Isobel Thrilling
  • In our Times – Isobel Thrilling
  • Just a scratch – Nancy Rutherford
  • The Last Englishman – Frances Chilton
  • Rainstorm – A.C. Clarke
  • Order – Jean Cardy
  • Eve – Finola Holiday
  • Night Weather – Finola Holiday
  • Love in the time of Tinder – Finola Holiday
  • Ode to Autumn – Daphne Schiller
  • The River Otter at Budleigh  – Daphne Schiller
  • A Gift Day – Helen Lovelock-Burke
  • First Summer – Helen Lovelock-Burke
  • The Rotating Writer’s Hut – David Jones
  • The Dialysis Patient – David Jones
  • Words on a Postcard – Terry Jones
  • Brown Light – Simon Bowden
  • Woman’s Power – Simon Bowden

Anthologies £3 (cheques payable to Ver Poets, P&P free) from Competitions Secretary, 181 Sandridge Road, St Albans, AL1 4AH

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