Thursday, 3 January 2013

Winning Writing Competitions...and losing them...

My good friend Joanna Ezekiel, has just won the Ryedale Poetry Competition 2012. It t really deserved to win. Beautiful imagery and the rhythm is wonderful, with surprising little rhymes. 

Here is her poem


I’ll want my navy frock that sweeps the knee,

vermilion lipstick, brogues; today, you wait

in dishwater civvies, whistle, scuff gravel

at a corner baked with salt and rubble

where, underfoot, streets are thin gravy:

blood, energy, khaki have streaked into the sea.

When I read your telegram, I remembered

how caramel bubbles, then hardens.

Bittersoft edges burn my fingers.

Now I plunge through daylight’s

sifted sugars, towards you: rinse out

the unwound clock, cobwebs,

simmering next-door-neighbours,

chicken bones that boil too soon.

This is what the judge, Andy Humphrey, had to say it;
'Homecoming, the First Prize winner in the Adults’ competition, is a particularly clever poem because it never actually tells the reader what it is really about. It relies entirely on imagery to tell the story behind the poem. The poet paints a domestic scene: cobwebs, caramel, a lady putting on lipstick. An unwound clock, thin gravy and chicken bones suggest a time of austerity, perhaps wartime; references to telegrams, blood, khaki and “civvies” lead the reader to the realisation that the lady in the poem is waiting for her husband or lover to come back from military service. Every image in the poem hints at the emotions that the narrator is keeping bottled up; but at the end, the reader is left guessing, just like the narrator is.'

Huge congratulations, Joanna. Meanwhile, I have a cautionary tale to tell about sending out stories. Sometimes I send out a story before I'm absolutely sure the previous submission is a rejection; I'm just impatient...and I don't keep notes as well as I should...because I'm an airhead, probably. So I've just found that the story I've been contracted to have appear in the next Chuffedbuff Books anthology (You, Me, and a little bit of We), had also won first prize in the Rubery Short Story competition.  I had the nasty shock of receiving a plaque and and cheque for £500 in the post, which of course, I had to send back, because I had contravened the rules of the competition. 

I've learnt my lesson. I will be far more careful with my submissions in future...but honestly, one just never thinks one will actually win, does one?

The anthology from Chuffedbuff Books will be out soon, but In the meantime, the start of the story is included on my Published Stories Page.

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