Poems by- Chapbook winners & commended poets

First Place: Pat Antony

Judges Comment: Place and people are inextricably linked in this evocative collection of poems. They bristle with observational details that a less skilful writer might miss – a man pedals night into day, the moon is scrawled with the arpeggios of an accordion player. Each voice here is convincing and urgent. Memorable, exact and compelling.

Sample of work:

Commended: Diarmuid Fitzgerald

Judges Comment: I was intrigued by the narrative arc of this collection and the way it charts a walking journey through landscapes the poet makes unfamiliar through bold description and metaphor – at night, ‘the sky is a black skin stretched over the forest’. Fear is ‘a jackdaw voice’. Subtly surprising work.

Sample of work:

Commended: Jonaki Ray

Judges Comment: These are poems which chart the way we can feel – in Seamus Heaney’s words – ‘lost, unhappy and at home’ all at once in the world. Dislocation, integration and the strangeness of family life are brought to the fore, often with dark humour.

Sample of work:

Commended: Katherine Goda

Judges Comment: Aching explorations of new parenthood and the process of nurturing a new life, presented with sentiment but without excessive sentimentality, charting how love can feel ‘unset’ in our homes.

Sample of work:

Commended: Ugonnaora Owoh

Judges Comment: These poems dance a step ahead of he reader, unsettling and bold. Words leave someone’s mouth like smoke. A grandmother eats the bible. Language is slippery and interrogated. These poems aren’t afraid to take up space on the page, to experiment with form.

Sample of work:

Second Place: Mike Farren

Judges Comment: From the first poem in this collection, I was intrigued and hooked by the strange confidence of the work: ‘Antennae’ suggests we should plug antlers from the forest floor to the sides of our heads. The pieces that follow are richly sensory – ‘summer smells of money’, the body is a quarry. Alert and attentive writing, poems suffused with an original language for memory.Memorable, exact and compelling.

Sample of work:

Third Place: Sharon Flynn

Judges Comment: From the first, these poems feel like recipes, full of rich details and imperatives. In one piece, surgery before pain relief is described with a clarity that makes the reader shudder. Visceral and haunting, unabashed and sharply observed, full of found material curated with skill and emotion, which is no mean feat.

Sample of work:

Commended: Jennie E. Owen

Judges Comment: Full of confident, disconcerting voices. In one poem, the narrator meticulously describes the process of painting the dead, capturing ‘the pink in the lips of memento mori’. Poems of family, loss, tenderness and our everyday white lies.

Sample of work:

Commended: Jean Tuomey

Judges Comment: These poems ‘cross cut’ between the present and the past, between different historical situations, illuminating them with compassion. They delicately walk the border between the outside world and the inner life of people, telling of ‘unfinished times’

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About the contributor

Guest Judge Helen Mort comments on the entries to Chapbook Contest 4.

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