Poetry Centre

Fourth place

  • The judges felt that Janice Laidlaw’s poem, ‘Wipe-out’, placed fourth, offered a stunning evocation of traumatic experience. With its evocative, sensual imagery, subtle use of sound patterns, and imaginative form, the poem ends ambiguously, having provided a powerful window into the subject’s experience, but leaving the reader unsure as to whether that subject will be able to move on from the incidents portrayed in the poem.


    She shrinks in time -
    childhood minuteness:
    cracked hollow of a grain of wheat.

    Grits, whimpers, cringes
    away from shadow-circled
    glass eyes prying.

    While they eat
    harsh ruts of giddied blood
    are drying....

    Sucked shrivelling-in of skin-sense:
    she squats tight, oblivious,
    battered case
    hangs, swinging.

    and when being
    as small as possible
    comes to an end,
    elasticity shapes to fit
    the gap between your head,
    your fists,
    your needs,
    your private bits.

    Acrid verses bellow
    in the parched air -
    the steeple-church is grimly chiming;
    and she is parched too:
    she spins,
    stilted blinks
    wave in the grass.
    Stings as she lies.

    It hurts,
    she is tiny,
    insects thunder by......

    She is far away;
    far, far away.

    And nothing is wrong
    because she won't ever let herself
    remember this day.

    by Janice Laidlaw