Winners! September/October Readers’ and Editor’s Choice Poems

The winner of the September/October poll for the Readers’ Choice Award is:

Contact Lens – by Kirsten Luckins

…and the fabled prize mug will soon be on its way to Hartlepool.

The Editor’s Choice Poem is:

The Journey – by Moira Garland

selected by Tom Weir who said:

“When Paul asked me to pick the editor’s choice I was delighted. I was a little unsure what to expect and conscious of the subjectivity of the task I was about to take on, that my choice might not be someone else’s choice. This was certainly true when I was sent the poems and realised the size of the task I was about to undertake.

I’ve learned a lot through reading these poems and have got something out of each but, early on, three stood out for me. With the poems being quite different in tone and subject-matter, and myself being incredibly indecisive as a person at the best of times, my choice has changed with my mood, the time of day I’ve read the poems, what other things have been going on at the time of reading… It’s been tough to just pick one but I’m really happy with my choice.

The poem I’ve picked is The Journey. This is a beautiful poem— one of those poems that doesn’t put a foot wrong and one that achieves that rare quality of getting you on an emotional and intellectual level.

I love the language in this poem, the imagery and close observation, the detail and register that make this poem all the more powerful. The poet’s way with words and ability to shift tone is richly rewarding and isn’t an easy thing to achieve:

We all know about bones
and flesh, the time they take.

Being handed the subject of the poem at the very start gives extra weight to each phrase and this responsibility is handled with a deft touch and great skill— nowhere more than so than in the lines above which I find striking. I also love the image at the beginning of the poem of the chest becoming railway maps. The whole poem is a journey of a kind and it’s fitting that it ends with the close image of the leather seats of a car, cracked with age.

The defiance of the last line is moving yet richly rewarding— the seats wanting to give up but the writer not letting them, not letting herself.

Thanks Paul for inviting me to do this and thanks to all the poets for lending me your poems, which have brought me so much pleasure and provided company on trains, buses, in cafes and at home. I would have been delighted to have written any one of them.


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