Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2024, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize.
Poems, unpublished, are invited on any subject but of no more than forty lines.
Closing date January 7th 2024.
The judge will be the prize-winning poet Jane Draycott.
Prizes:1st prize £150, two further £75 prizes and up to six highly commended of £25. Winners welcome to read at AGM on 3rd March at Steep, Hampshire.
Fees £3 per poem with a maximum of three poems entered.
Email entries: Word document, single attachment per anonymised poem ( & please mention payment method.)
Surname A- K:, to Barbara Kinnes, email@example.com
L-Z to Margaret Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pay your fee preferably to the Fellowship’s account, 40-08-21 11250205, initial and surname as Reference, Competition as Description, or with Paypal, first selecting the number of poems entered from the drop down menu.
2023 Poetry Competition results
The 2023 Competition attracted over three hundred poems. The judge, Jane Draycott, wrote that she found the sifting and final choices very difficult, with poems of powerful quality, strong and strongly-felt. Jane’s full report is available here.
The First Prize was for ‘Marsh Angels’ by Jane Burn.
Joint Second prizes were for ‘Seal’ by Joanna Lowry and ‘We will be out until the Light has Gone’ by David Thomas.
Highly recommended poems were by, Kathryn Bevis, Harriet Truscott, Shirley Nicholson, Glen Wilson, Alex McDonald and Laura Jenner.
Horses, pale as bone, pale as snow,
wick and wild, who would think such bodies
could live on waves? Live where the water writes
such a faint line between its cool length and bleached pages
where water makes the horses seem
to come alive twice — once above, cannon deep and once
again beneath — a rippled self —blurred,
disturbed by the droplets falling from its own soft mouth —
it seems to kiss, whenever it stoops its milky cobble of a head
Horse has found its own way to never be alone.
The water holds so many mirrored friends
so gently asking nothing more
than to be beloved to another.
There is no cost but standing here, or running here—
no price for peace
but moon, reflected moon, reflected clouds, stars,
ribbons of hardy delta grass.
The water dries upon them like second skin. Salt skin, silver skin.
They are not afraid to live as ghosts— babies born
in fading pelts
at their dam’s side like a beautiful stain.
The Camargue’s Cradle holds them safe, holds their tails like spray
against the wind—
holds their speed, their love.
their resting weight. The sand keeps
the echoes of their feet.
Seeking the freedom of sleep I conjure myself as a seal,
sleek and swollen, edging clumsily towards the rim
of a frozen ice floe, then slipping down
into the ocean, rolling and diving, instantly free.
I picture the way I move, released from all constraint,
and deep in my belly coiled intestines, bundles
of transparent lace, floating in their own black sea.
I saw a seal’s intestines once in a museum.
I was tired from lack of sleep, and stepped out of a dark corridor.
It was flash-lit: that luminous cloak sewn from seal gut,
stretched, brittle and tissue-paper thin.
Torn from deep inside the seal’s body,
it was magical, and proof against all weather,
blizzards, ice, the arctic wind.
At night my dead husband appears on a dais
in a beam of light. Sliding those slim tweezers
down his throat he pulls out a shimmering strand of gut.
It pools in coils at his feet. He seems at that moment
pharaonic, at the mouth of a shining delta,
or at the centre of a circle of wavelets on hard black water –
where a seal has just plunged out of sight.
We Will Be Out until the Light Has Gone
We will be out until the light has gone –
Guns broken open,
Cold and hard across crooked arms.
I am a child, but I wish to be a man. So.
I roll silently into his footprints,
And hope to kill something;
To dip hands sacramentally
In blood and leaf litter,
The ring of the metal report still in my ears.
I do not understand why I want these things.
Sometimes, as we work the wood
Or carefully crab-step the quarry bank,
I think it is the broad, blind,
Damp, bullying back of him I’ll bring down.
An accident, they would surely say.
And perhaps it would have been.
The Fellowship has published two anthologies of previous winning poems from the competition covering the period 2017-2022. Titled A Nest of Singing Birds and Another Nest of Singing Birds these are available to buy from the Fellowship – either online or at the Edward Thomas Study Centre in Petersfield. More details and purchase information are available here.