The poll has closed and the winning READERS’ CHOICE POEM for May (without needing any support from anyone else) is The man in the farmhouse – by Claire Walker. Many congratulations to Claire who will be getting a prize mug in due course.
The EDITOR’S CHOICE POEM was selected by Patrick Lodge. He had this to say.
“It was a joy to select the Editor’s Choice for May from poems embracing a quirky diversity of subject, structures, perspectives and ambitions. Some hard-edged and gentle; some hurting, some rollicking and downright funny, some epistolary or ekphrastic – they all clamoured to be chosen. Reading and re-reading (often in sleepless moments in the quiet rural night) produced a shortlist where poems kept emerging to demand more attention, to stake their claim. They argued on the basis of their sheer craft – often hidden by easy lyricism and rhythm. They made their case by their unsettling, enigmatic narratives, by taking the reader into a world where nothing, though familiar, quite clicked, by their emotional strength in the face of often gnomic challenge. So From Caitlin impressed with its lyrical lament for the ten year dead Dylan Thomas. So too did The man in the farmhouse with its simple, stripped back narrative under which ran undercurrents of potentially dangerous feelings in a world where the dividing line between human and animal seems wavy. Chairwoman also attracted with its sensitive depiction and its subversion of expectation.
In the end though, one poem drew me back repeatedly to its world – so the Editor’s Choice for May is The perennial problem by Alice Tomlinson. I liked the way the poet wrote deftly – almost lightly – about a highly pressured state that remains deliciously ambivalent – who or what is the “you”? The poem has an undercurrent of tension – a sense of dislocation, of everything being out of kilter, of everyone else knowing a secret that you don’t – which is unnerving. There is a sense of holding on which is supported by the measured stanza structure reflecting a desperate attempt at control. The language is carefully chosen – “crone” could not be bettered – wise woman or malicious witch or maybe both? The ability to create an atmosphere – a palpable sense of place – through smell, seeing, hearing is well done – not least because these senses which normally help order and understand the world do the opposite here. I liked too the resolution that is not a resolution with the powerful image of order temporarily restored by the head pressed on the windowpane. An excellent poem indeed.”