Announcing Poetry London 2021 Poetry Contest WinnersWe are delighted to announce the winners of our 2021 Poetry Contest judged by Phil Hall. Big thanks goes to Phil for being the judge and to all contestants for submitting their poetry. Congratulations to the winners!
1st Prize “Third in Line” – Kathleen Roffey
Third in Line Carefully sorting through your grandmother’s life. After the Mass, and the burial, and the reception, with those lemon squares you could never stomach. There was so much of her to unearth. When you found it, gold chain in the palm of your hand, you knew it was yours. It was your birthright. Miniature engraved scale resting just below your throat. Both sides equal and balanced. You were the third in a line of Libra daughters, inheriting indecision and a dogmatic civility. Born two days before your mother’s birthday, she always claimed you were her favourite present. When the necklace started to itch, you kept it on despite the burn. * Your grandparents met at a church dance, your parents at a wedding. Easy stories told over Sunday dinners. Comfort in the repetition, it was only natural to fall. You always bought into the fantasy. Butter yellow flowers, rows of tulle knotted around pew corners. You never considered the possibility that the church you were raised in, where you had memorized stained-glass windows, preformed grade school Christmas carols, wouldn’t marry you now. No church would. You never wanted to be the one to break tradition. * You were supposed to be the third in a line of Libra daughters. You were supposed to be daughter. But the irritation never stopped, the necklace heavy around your neck. So lovingly created, features borrowed, matriarchal in design. You couldn’t understand, the feeling devastatingly familiar, of your own body ill fitting and confining. You didn’t know how to tell your mother, the second in line, that this body was no longer yours, that daughter no longer fit. That the procession had stopped.
2nd Prize “Called, Culled, Chosen, Caught” – Penn Kemp
Called, Culled, Chosen, Caught There you are in the sudden confirmation of synchronicity when the radio speaks the word I am writing. Jack Spicer, move back. But keep talking, please, humming through medium cool. So the song responds, corresponds to mood. Ordinary, moving. Ordinary, sacred. Blessed from the beginning, you assert. And I start in sympathy, startled into sense. All the mediums remark in one refrain that the dead are happy now, talking to us in dream. Hello, hollow. Are you there? Where? Who can hear you among the tumult of the damned, Jack? To be named is to be recalled from another realm, to be remembered after such dismembering. This body knows only the present. It obeys the question and strains. Cartilage gives, ligaments stretch— a kind of inflammatory frieze that escapes the ultimate dimensional leap so far, that mimetic fear caught in the doctrine of signatures. I lie flat, listening, learning not to recreate realities that are no longer yours. Nor mine. Abandon plans, idle curiosity, knowing you lie. Goodbye, Jack. The dreadful internalized, I am shelled immobile on a familiar horizontal, ghosted, going nowhere. Outer light allows a muffled certainty beyond gravity, beyond your grave countenance. Who is still speaking, mouthing phrases I hardly hear? Perhaps if I get your words down just right I can fool my fate to take this paper substitute for any further injury it might have in mind. What, I won't ask. Don’t ask.
3rd Pize “Sensory Overload, Echolocation in for Repair” – Lynn Tait
Sensory Overload, Echolocation in for Repairs If I can believe my eyes—it’s late, can’t visualize my heart pain or so my woman-clock articulates like a fine-tuned fork chiming beat-ups per minute. Did I hear you correctly? Echolalia’s long drip convulses through imaginary pools, I smell the quack of controversy from here/hear/there the pitter-patter of its webbed feet, geese in formation honking up the wrong tree makes my ears weep. Heartbreak keeps showing up in this poem like a low frequency ping a mispronunciation a sour consistent stink gliding by so close you can almost not not taste it. Odium flails its wings in all directions. Caught in its own stone-toothed trap, ego feathers up you stay me go. Strange echoes touch me now, like a kindness. Swans—their love dance plays on my fingertips. They trumpet a song, one about the mermaid who learns to swim through fire.
Honourable Mention “Eighty Land Birds to Know” - Deborah Windell
Eighty Land Birds to Know How are you holding up? the doctor asks Her prognosis in the way he put his hand on my shoulder His face both sincere and practiced, his question unanswerable The technician tilts the screen towards us, a digital Borduas This language that none of us speak, pictographs of muscle, bone and blood This will be the last room, her last view An avid birder, I hope that she can hear the cooing of pigeons outside her window We gather on the ward, restless and nodding, desperately snatching up any news like crumbs We stand close together, suspend old grievances We whisper Strangers wearing scrubs come in and out Most are brisk, all are unannounced We are not privy to the choreography We learn the names of the sympathetic ones We thank them. Bring them coffee. Bless them.The hours are measured by paper cups crumpled and discarded in the bin The gurgling sounds from inside her chest an alarm We take turns holding her hand, repeating It’s okay I’m here I love you A year later, a recipe card Found tucked between the pages of Eighty Land Birds to Know. Written in her elegant cursive, a prescription to follow, precisely measured I carefully trace each loop and tittle to summon her, To tell her how much I miss her
Poetry London 2021 Open Theme Contest
DEADLINE: March 15th, 2021
***DEADLINE EXTENDED: March 19th, 2021
Submit your best work to Poetry London’s 2021 Open Theme poetry contest, judged by legendary Canadian poet Phil Hall! Contest entries must be one poem of no more than 40 lines, on any topic, in any style; only submit original work that has not been previously published in print or online.
Send poems in PDF format by email only to email@example.com. Please include your name, your complete contact information (including mailing address) and the title of your poem in the body of the email. Judging will be anonymous. Do not include your name in the PDF file of your poem. You must be a resident of (or attending school in) London and surrounding area to enter. Winners will be announced in early April 2021 (only winners will be contacted).
- First Prize is $100
- Second Prize is $75
- Third Prize is $50
The winning poets will have their work published on Poetry London’s website and will be invited to read their poems at our April 20th digital video event, ahead of the feature readers.
Announcing Poetry London's 2020 Poetry Contest Winners
We’re pleased to announce the winners of our 2020 Open Theme Poetry Contest judged by Lucas Crawford. Thanks to Lucas for being the judge and to all contestants for submitting a poem.
• 1st Prize: “The oldest photograph of” by Brian Baker
The oldest photograph of
nature (not some experiment in a dank, darkened room) was by
Niépce and his camera obscura, unroofed high above Le Gras.
Thickly stippled and angled rooftops, shimmering blue on the
a person, on the Boulevard du Temple, his image on daugerrotype,
phantoms all around. None of them stopped, though, long enough
to get their boots cleaned, or lean up against a Parisian lamppost.
But he did, and was then so perfect in time and space that
he became a foundling, risen up through fumes of heated mercury.
a hoax, bombastic as it was, perpetuated by Bayard and his "Self Portrait As A
Drowned Man". Tricked by Daugerre, his Academie honours stolen, he
shows his enemies that he has surely drowned himself because of it,
can you not see the state of decay?
people drinking, around the table. Hill, Ballantine and Bell. Three men, lost in
their Edinburgh ale, a drink so "potent" that Ballantine has made Hill laugh. They
the sun and the moon, unassisted, posing in the sky, no need for the head brace,
no need for them to keep their eyes open (so there would be
no flutter). The only concerns were errant light, beams which strayed
from exposure. That and clouds, relentlessly shadowing.
me, as a young boy, grinning out from the top bunk, in a cabin on the Bow. The
tobacco-stained hands of my Grandpa at the table. The battered straw hat his
friend wore. Before all that, I was just a baby. They were fading then (and are
even more faded now) but there are scars on my head, from an operation I survived,
so that I could be in a cabin on the Bow with my Grandpa and his friend and still
look at that photograph today.
the separation of binary stars is what we saw for the first time but always knew
was there. Stars so closely aligned that they appeared as one. Getting us there, though, a
Burgundy skyline begets Parisian shoeshine begets an un-drowned man begets the sun and
moon begetting a young boy, smiling, which begets stars with a shared barycenter and
stellar winds. Yes, the stars have winds!
• 2nd Prize: “Susan Gilbert” by Gabrielle Drolet
possible, but not yet realized —
love like a myth, elliptical.
revealed little, as did the poems.
when Dickinson said
I have one prayer only;
that is for you,
who knows what she meant. next-door
neighbors, friends, companions,
sisters-in-law. sharp-sighted observers who imagined
their escapes. to make the abstract tangible
is a double-edged sword. there is such a thing
as too much
freedom. to make
the abstract tangible is to touch
to run a hand
through her hair, to run
a hand across her neck, to kiss
under her chin.
• 3rd Prize: “O” by Megan Silva
O I draw circles around your name. I draw circles. I draw circles around your name and my name. I draw lines through our circles and your name and my name - but there are still circles around your name and my name. Still circles, circling round, circling around your name. Circling around, till there are no names, only circles. Circling around, and around, and around, where there were once two names in a circle.
Poetry London 2020 Open Theme Contest
***DEADLINE EXTENDED!*** March 15th, 2020
Submit your best work to Poetry London’s 2020 Open Theme poetry contest, judged by acclaimed Canadian poet Lucas Crawford! Contest entries must be one poem of no more than 40 lines, on any topic, in any style; only submit original work that has not been previously published in print or online.
Send poems in PDF format by email only to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, your complete contact information (including mailing address) and the title of your poem in the body of the email. Judging will be anonymous. Do not include your name in the PDF file with your poem. You must be a resident of (or attending school in) London and surrounding area to enter. Winners will be announced in early April 2020 (only winners will be contacted).
- First Prize is $100
- Second Prize is $75
- Third Prize is $50
The winning poets will have their work published on Poetry London’s website and will be invited to read their poems at our April 22nd event, ahead of the feature readers.
Announcing 2019 Poetry London Contest Winning Poets
We're pleased to announce the winners of our 2019 Poetry Contest judged by Canisia Lubrin. Thanks Canisia for being the judge and to all contestants for submitting a poem!
• 1st Prize: “Recycling Humanity” by Kayla Skinner
The river is almost empty,
just a leaking sponge that has absorbed all of the city’s problems.
Every now and then it coughs up receipts from the people that didn’t have time to make
dinner at home,
spits out syringes from the people that didn’t eat at all.
Yesterday’s meal: a bottle of Olde English and a torn pair of sneakers.
Dessert was a mother trying to stare at her reflection but only a murky silhouette looked
Her child, mirroring her image, tossed crumbs to the ducks that floated along the bank.
His light smile blows away with the breeze realizing his pockets are empty.
Nothing left to give back to the river; nothing left to trade for the stories his mother has
or so he thought.
Today, an Olde English bottle rests upon a desk, housing an assortment of pens.
Somewhere, a man walks in patched up sneakers and with a pocket full of crumbs.
• 2st Prize: “No Words” by Kelly McConnell
For my son, age 2
plucked from this infinite keyboard staccato
from the splayed fingers of ink
covering gasps of white pages
can explain the vastness of the ocean
to a tadpole
to chew and swallow the wholeness of absence
the throat-gouging edges of loss
with a mouth tender like moth wings
with teeth just small seeds
alphabet letters planted in the gums
draw in sunlight through his laughter
will it ever be enough
to germinate syllables and symbols
that can twine around his breath
and bear the true weight
of life and death?
• 3st Prize: “Abyss” by Isabella Kennedy
Hidden in the underbelly
of a rotten wharf, my body is dead
weight. My hair, a slimy mess
of rope. My legs, chains
in this stagnant sea.
Your voice crawls
over the broken glass rocks,
over the swollen wood panels, peers
into the dregs of the Pacific
and here I am
a crude mask, face afloat
staring up at the storm.
you whisper into the water:
take off the mask
tell me about it
my ears hear the cloth-stuffed
scream of metal ground against metal—
the handle of my empty pail
hanging from a pillar
like the flag of my depression
half-mast in the wind.
One day you will rise
from this incubation in the mud water
wet like baptism
on the soft tongue of a cracked clam shell—
but Sister, I am drowning
in this marina’s mouth. Swallowed,
sinking like sewage
away from the surface
away from the sky
away from you.
I won’t rise from this
Announcing 2017 Poetry Contest Winners
Poetry London is pleased to present the winners of the 2017 poetry contest!
The theme: Canada's 150th.
- Jack Williams
- John Fooks
- Emma Croll-Baehre