Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

"National Poetry Competition Winners' Anthology 2014" (The Poetry Society, 2015)

The judges were Roddy Lumsden, Glyn Maxwell and Zoe Skoulding - a good mix. The anthology comprises 3 prizewinners and 8 commended poems from over 13,000 sent. 4 are in couplets, 1 in triplets and 2 in quadruplets. Another was in 4 sections, the lengths being 8/10/7/6 lines of near-equal length. No poems had lines that varied much in length. The most common magazines mentioned in the bios were "The Rialto", "Ink, Sweat & Tears" and "Magma". The poems and videos of them are available

Of the winning poem, "Corkscrew Hill Photo" by Roger Philip Dennis, a judge wrote "I couldn't place it geographically or timewise (does it jump backwards and forwards?), but that didn't matter." which is fair enough. I had trouble with its imagery though. In "A thick drizzle
/ trickles rivulets down the window pane,/ 
smears distance on fields, curtains-off hills
/ and greens the sagged thatch" there's redundancy in the initial description, and I'm surprised that the rain makes the thatch look green (I guess eventually the rain will provoke moss). In any case "smears distance" etc it's unoriginal.

Contrast that with the apposite imagery of "Cat on the Tracks" by Mark Pajak, where the cat "sat on a rung/
 between the rails, tail wisping like smoke/ as a distant train split the air along its seam./ 
Its coming headlight laid down track/ and placed an opal into each black seed/
of the cat’s eyes, every blink slow as an eclipse./ ... The world lit up like a page/ and the train a sentence before the full-stop.". Not strikingly original, but there's a stream of successful images.

I thought "Last exit to Luton" (which came 3rd) was the most so-what poem. Jonathan Tel's "Ber Lin" reminded me of Jack Underwood's "Thank you for your email", using the conventions of prose - to write prose? And "Day Trippin'" is an anecdote that a prose format would make more sincere and concise.

Given the short-list, I might have put Paul Nemser's "After the Calm" first.

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