Introduced by Chair of the Judges, Rob Spence
The inaugural Shiny Poetry Competition, on the theme, naturally enough, of ‘Reading’, attracted a small, but high-quality group of poems. The range was impressive, as was the inventive ways in which our poets had interpreted their brief. The subjects varied from a child’s first halting steps in reading, to the imagined thoughts of a second-hand book, to reflective meditations on the act of reading as a kind of sacrament. Poems about specific books, either stated or implied, vied with poems that conceived of reading as immersion in a river or the solving of an ancient puzzle. Some deeply personal poems about personal epiphanies through reading, in the schoolroom and the home, jostled with poems which explored the delicious agony of finishing a beloved book. The variety of forms was impressive too: the sturdily traditional, with well-observed rhyme and metrical pattern was well represented, but so too was the experimental and free- form. We felt that the set topic had been explored in exciting and interesting ways, and it was a pleasure to read the submissions. It is customary on these occasions to say how difficult it was to reach a conclusion, but this was genuinely the case here. The panel exchanged their views, and argued for their favourites. In the end, unlike some of the rows which seem to have characterised the deliberations of some recent big award panels, we came to amicable and unanimous agreement. We wanted also to recognise the quality of the poems that came close to winning, and we have included them here. The winner is…
‘In this hour’ by Sharon Black
Congratulations Sharon – We’ll be in touch about your prize.
The judges’ comments:
Rob: This poem is so evocative, Keats-like in its celebration of the senses, and subtle in its tantalising portrait of literary discovery. It’s a lovely glimpse of the beginning of the reading journey.
Marina: I liked the juxtaposition of the natural world, with all its sounds, tastes, smells and textures, with the fictional world that the two girls are entering through the magic of words. A childhood memory that all of us booklovers can relate to, but tinged with the melancholy of a more mature poet revisiting that scene.
Harriet: I thought this poem wonderfully evocative of a time and place. I loved the luscious natural imagery and the way the poet wove the experience of reading into the mood of the hour. A lovely, thoughtful, thought-provoking poem.
Annabel: As the enthusiast rather than expert on the panel, I loved the cinematic images that came into my mind while reading the poem. There’s a perfect little story within its bounds.