Poetry Centre

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  • First Place: Framed, Siobhan Campbell


    Because he had a large growth on his neck they called him
    Dinny of the unborn twin and the worst of them asked 
    if he ever voted for labour. When the ships came in 
    there were containers to lift with the new- fangled thing-uma- 
    jig that took away the jobs of fourteen dockers. Once 
    a smallish wooden pallet that got sent the wrong way from 
    Guyana. Pineapples, smelling to high heaven. The scent of 
    the Caribbean, though we argued about whether Guyana 
    was South American or part of the Anglo-Carib proper. 
    Sparks who had BBC World Service said it was; he’d heard 
    a long-boat-man from there tell how they roasted coconuts 
    on fires till they burst with the heat of their milk, making a 
    splatter that they ate all up, washed off the stickiness in 
    the tide. But there was a reason to begin this… yes, the 
    question of the unborn and the rights of same. Well, we 
    brought Dinny in, all scrubbed up, to the minister. Frame 
    was his name, from somewhere down west where they’ve 
    those long towns built toward the worship hall and they’re 
    trained to stare straight and to think straight. Reverend, 
    we said, there’s a growing boy out the back of this man’s neck 
    and we think, as you are the upstanding and the outstanding 
    you should now stand up for the rights of the yet to be born 
    and get it out for us, yes, get it out. Well, he’s still looking at us 
    with one eye forlorn as a burnt out tree and the other whipped 
    clean to the whiskey. We turned him that day, it’s true as god, 
    and he left for Scotland once the spring came in and didn’t even 
    have a farewell do for his leaving. Somewhere in the outer or the 
    inner Hebrides they say, there’s a squinter of a man who was 
    once of the cloth and his crossing is and his crossing was and 
    his crossing always will be forever and ever

    Siobhan Campbell

    Siobhan Campbell
    is the author of four poetry collections, the latest of which is Cross-Talk from Seren Press, a book termed ‘poetry with attitude’. Siobhan uses the lyric to skewer our most cherished human foibles. Her poetry has been called fierce and uncompromising and is ‘full of clear-eyed compassion’ says Bernard O’Donoghue. Siobhan has won the Templar prize for poetry and holds awards in the National and Troubadour International competitions. She is the editor of Courage and Strength - poems and stories by Combat Veterans (Combat Stress UK). Her work is widely anthologized including in New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe) and Womens’ Work: twentieth century poets writing in English. Recent work has appeared in The Hopkins Review, Magma and Asymptote. Siobhan is on faculty at The Open University in the UK and is the co-editor of the forthcoming book of essays, Inside History: the work of Eavan Boland (Arlen House). Siobhan’s new book which contains the Oxford Brookes International prize-winning poem is called That Other Island and is forthcoming from Seren Press. Find out more about Siobhan's work on her website.

  • Second Place: Domonic, Claire Askew


    This time of year I think of you the most:
    springtime, when I'm in love with everything.
    Behind the bar you liked on Candlemaker Row

    the kirkyard laburnums are budding;
    come the summer they'll be yellow Texas hairdos
    dropping pods of blossom on the old graves.

    I'm amazed that I still observe the days
    since you went wherever you went;
    that I still want to tell you things.  Like:

    I look for you in crowds of out-of-towners,
    and in spring sometimes there'll be a man
    who makes me pause, heart spilling its blooms.

    But there was only ever one of you,
    born with a misspelled name even Google
    corrects.  Like: see?  I'm searching.  

    Like: I've learned there are collectors who want
    only broken things – porcelain so loved that
    when it smashed, the cracks were sealed with gold.

    That's how I was broken by your going:
    although it was a wrecking, it was also
    a making-better.  Like: thank you.

    Like: what I'd choose to do with you right now
    is go to the bar in the big white afternoon,
    no one else drinking, the window seat a giftbox 

    of jewelled light. Laburnum light: amber
    in the tall glasses lit up like bulbs.  And after,
    I could walk away, every break and closure glowing.

    Claire Askew

    Claire Askew
    is a poet and writer originally from Cumbria, now living in Edinburgh.  Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including
    The Guardian, Poetry Scotland, New Writing Scotland, Mslexia and PANK, and has been thrice selected for the Scottish Poetry Library's Best Scottish Poems anthology (in 2008, 2009 and 2014). Claire is the author of the pamphlet collection The Mermaid and the Sailors (Red Squirrel Press, 2011), and has just published her first full length collection, This changes things, with Bloodaxe. The manuscript of This changes things was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award in 2014, and formed part of the submission to Claire's PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh.

  • Special Commendation: Glass Eye, Wes Lee

    Glass Eye

    The real one lost to the North Sea
    or so we were told. You served on submarines –
    I imagine you in the dark, a long way down,
    listening for that echoing ping. You would stab
    at our fingers with a fork when we tried to pinch
    food from our plates; our mother’s clench
    at that blinkered stare we forgot most of the time.
    You carried a wad of rolled up notes and bought me
    my first LP: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
    And when we left for good you cried so hard
    you had to take out your false teeth.
    Our mother was amazed, she had never seen
    you cry before. You found it hard to smile: a strangled
    grimace as if a genie would forever be released.
    And when you trimmed the rabbit’s claws,
    outside one afternoon on a sweltering day,
    you pushed your glasses up on your nose: sweating,
    clipping, snipping – you went on,
    ignoring our pleas, all protests – blood, red in its fur,
    but we could see you wanted to stop.

    Wes Lee

    Originally from Burnley, Lancashire, Wes Lee emigrated to New Zealand with her parents in the late 70s. She was a lecturer in Fine Arts at Auckland University of Technology and now writes full-time. In 2010, she was the recipient of The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award, New Zealand’s foremost award for the short story. Her chapbook of short fiction Cowboy Genes, was published by Grist Books at the University of Huddersfield and launched at the Huddersfield Literature Festival in 2014. Most recently she was selected as a finalist in The Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2014, and The London Magazine’s Poetry Competition in 2015. She is currently working on her first poetry collection.