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The Edward Thomas Poetry Competition 2022

Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2022, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize.

These are the 2022 Poetry Competition winning poems, judged by Jamie McKendrick.

We were delighted by the quality and number of entries – over 480 – this year, and warmly thank everyone who entered.

The winning poem of the Competition is ‘Shadowland’  by James Driver.  Joint second are ‘This’ by Kathryn Bevis   and ‘Kaze no Denwa (The Wind Phone)’  by  Theresa Giffard. Highly commended were  Derek Sellen (for two poems), Bill Dodd,  Lawrence Wray, James Driver (for a second poem.)

Jamie’s report may be read here but before reading it you may like to read these wonderful poems and join us in congratulating the winners.

Shadowland         By James Driver

He was the bailiff here. This is his map.

Six inches to the statute mile. The names

Are still the same – Frome Copse and White Beech Lane –

But all the trees it shows went long ago,

Clear felled one winter, 1921.

Work for the unemployed, two hundred men

Out in the rain with tools they couldn’t name.

He gave them sacks to keep their shoulders dry.

They left no tales to tell, no photographs;

Their stories, like the paths his old map shows,

Are lost and yet, just like he said it would,

All that was slight and aimless still survives:

A stretch of woodland runs by High Street Green –

Replanted, felled, replanted once again –

The Sadler brothers owned it. Thomas lived

At Pockford. His favourite horse was Plantain.

Ajax and Dewdrop, Bosphorus, his hounds.

James, on the Petworth Road, kept Cherfold House.

August the thirteenth, 1855,

He took his ball and bat to Shillinglee, played in

The famous match where no-one scored a run.

William, too, lived somewhere hereabouts.

They gave that belt of trees – the way they rode

To Sidney Wood – the name Botany Bay,

And told themselves they’d made a jest as fine

As all the captions on the Punch cartoons

They cut out, trimmed and framed and liked to hang

Around the tack room walls. Hung there too was

The harness of the horses used by him

To drag the hewn trunks out on furrowed tracks

Which, once the timber tug had gone, the deer

Took as their own, pushed further on, and jays

Flew through to plant their acorns out while soft

Seeds floated in and ash keys tumbled down.

When I was young he drew a map for me,

Named all the places that he walked and worked,

And painted pictures of his favourite trees

As true to life as any photograph.

Across that spot he printed “PERFECT WOOD’.

Across the rest he scribbled “shadowland”.

 

Joint Second prize poems

This,     by Kathryn Bevis

A fire has been lit in new leaves,

will grow to a green world

in the dark wood. Small whites

rise in drifts to the swish of our boots.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

 

A pair of grey wagtails fly low,

gold-bellied, over the rushing river.

Their bodies translate water

to sunlight, sunlight to water.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

 

Here, the wind toys with leaves like loose

change in the pockets of the sky.

High above, a wood pigeon calls to us,

wild and true, Who are you, who who?

Nothing is worth more than this day.

 

Kaze no Denwa (The Wind Phone)  by Theresa Giffard

On a hill above Otsuche

there is a phone box

in a garden

overlooking the building site

that used to be the town

before it was swallowed up

by the sea

 

The locals come

one by one, or in pairs

shuffling outside

clutching tissues

anxious faces

scarves and thick coats

wrapped up against the cold

 

Pushing the door open

lifting the receiver

they dial numbers of homes

that are no longer standing

and speak to the missing

to loved ones who are lost

presumed drowned

 

A teenage son

has walked from the station

his father a lorry driver

last heard of on the coast road

when the wave came

“I miss you dad” he said

“I made the baseball team”

 

An old woman climbs the path

her back bent like an apple tree

she calls her husband

whose body has never been found

and asks if he is warm enough

there is no reply

just the sound of the wind

 

Reports and winning poems from previous years may be viewed and read by following this link initially.

The Fellowship is also pleased to announce that a second edition anthology of previous winning poems from the competition – Another Nest of Singing Birds – and covering the period 2020-2022 has now been produced and is available to buy – more details and purchase information are available here.