A full house once again for poetry at The Red Roaster Coffee House.
Michaela Ridway was full of beans tonight ready to host the final event of the season, the results The Poetry School and Pighog pamphlet competition. Julia Bird and her assistant had traveled down from London to offer their support.
In a way I felt sorry for the finalists, it must be very nerve racking reading from one’s work knowing that the winner had already been chosen. Two poets arrived on their own rather than bringing a friend but then most poets I know are quietly industrious.
The unenviable task of choosing the winner fell to judges Catherine Smith who said ‘It was a privilege to co-judge this competition. The standard of entries was so high, technically very skilled, and the subject matter so richly diverse,’ and Simon Barraclough who commented ‘I often wished I was a magazine editor who could take fantastic single poems as well as being a judge who had to consider whole manuscripts.’ Genuine responses to a daunting task I suspect.
The 13 poets shortlisted however were –
Amy McCauley Slops, Fiona Cartwright Mrs Darwin’s Egg, Francine Elena Fluoro, Hannah Jane Walker You interrupt my brain sweetheart, Julia Webb Bird sisters, Justina Hart A wire to grief, Katie Griffiths My shrink is pregnant, Liz Hall This new land she has reached, Mona Arshi Small hands, Natacha Bryan If I talked everything my eyes saw, Paul Adrian Small ceremonies, Sarah Barnsley The Fire Station, and Tess Adams Fragmented.
The poets who were at the event each read a poem from their shortlisted work and Catherine and Simon shared the readings of poets who could not make it. All the poems were musical, dramatic and poignant by turns and it was easy to see how this snapshot of their work from their pamphlets had got them on the shortlist. It is really sad there can only be one winner.
Both judges read from their own publications. I have heard Catherine several times before and she has an awesome reputation as a poet and a long list of publications to her name, but I had not heard the poems featured tonight about her misspent youth. Loved Simon’s poems too, which had a filmic quality and were mainly from his book ‘Neptune Blue’.
Two runners up in the competition were Sara Barnsley with ‘The Fire Station’ one of her poems about her fireman dad changing stations. The journey to a different location was beautifully observed. I do hope she gets published elsewhere, I would be one of the first to buy her pamphlet.
The second runner-up was Katie Griffiths with ‘My shrink is pregnant’ also highly original in subject matter.
Last but not least the winner was announced Natacha Bryan with lovely imagery about Jamaica and her ancestry. She told us too that sometimes her poems came in dreams and visions she had. She is influenced by the beat of blues and jazz in some of her work and her winning pamphlet was called ‘If I talked everything my eyes saw’. Look forward to seeing it published in September.
No more Pighog Plus until September now after that impressive lot, dare I try once more to put poetic pen to paper? Of course writing poetry is a bug that won’t go away.