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The Edward Thomas Poetry Competition 2024 Results Page

Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2024, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize.

The Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2024, Edward Cawston Thomas Prize.

We are pleased to announce the names of the winners of the 2024 Competition, judged by the award- winning poet Jane Draycott.  As usual we have a First prize, with two equal Second prizes, followed by six Highly Commended poems. There were just over three hundred poems entered and our thanks to everyone who entered and warm congratulations to the winners.

The three winning poems are published below, followed by Jane Draycott’s report and appreciation of those winning poems, with details of those Highly Commended appearing afterwards.

A link to 2023 and previous years results is available at the bottom of this page, after the 2024 section.

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The Winner of First Prize of £150 is Alesha Racine  for ‘Rowan.’

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Joint Second Prizes of £75 are awarded to Catherine Mehta for ‘Caught’

Caught

It looked so small
lying there
on the stone seat
by the front door
and the lemon balm.

I thought it would be bigger
as I cupped it gently
in the palm of my hand
and perhaps heavier
given its daily toil.

I thought it would be black
as black as ink
but it’s closer to soot
with a tinge of brown
like an old black cat.

But the softness
softer than a dandelion clock
or the wisps of Old Man’s Beard
or the fine down of a gosling
not yet three days old.

Eyes tight shut
long yellow stained teeth
like a hardened smoker
its tiny nose
the palest dog rose pink.

‘Finally caught the bugger,’
my Grandpa said
as he opened the door
‘no more mole hills for that one,
knew you’d like a look.’

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And to Carson Wolfe for ‘A Quantum Physicist Teaches Me The Observer  Effect’

 A QUANTUM PHYSICIST TEACHES ME THE OBSERVER EFFECT 

He sketches a diagram of electrons                    pinging
across the page        the act of observing       changes

their behaviour      he says                            searching
my eyes                                     for shared fascination

My mother once      called a man                     to fix
our washing machine                     Put me in front

of Pingu     with a cup         of blackcurrant juice
Later  I saw her     through a crack in the door

being kissed    so hard               her shoulders
slumped    and her bra straps       fell down

I throw back   another shot       of tequila
steady myself       against his bookshelf

dizzied   by the Periodic Table framed
above the mantle            its elements

rearranging   The debt between us
closing in      His midnight rescue

the simmer of NO VACANCY
my three year old       heavy

on my hip  she sleeps now
shut     in the spare room

he opens the eye of  a
telescope to show me

how beautiful it is
a star imploding

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Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2024 – Judge’s Report

In a year when immediate world events and further longer-term crises figure so prominently in the shared consciousness, it’s perhaps not surprising to discover so many of the entries to the competition trying to find ways to speak about fragility, destruction and loss. Much of Thomas’s own poetry is quietly charged with that same consciousness, as expressed so memorably in his poem ‘The Owl’ – the bird’s cry telling me plain what I escaped/ And others could not.  Several excellent poems, including the shortlisted and prize-winning entries, also evoked in their many different ways a strong sense of scene and of human presence in it, simultaneously detailed and associative, as if searching for understanding about how individual and personal experience might relate to what we observe as the non-human universe.

The first prize winner ‘Rowan’ brilliantly uses an inventive, sensuous association of mythological narratives to create a richly detailed and wonderfully mysterious account of thrushes which seems to be simultaneously a dramatisation of both folklore and the biblical tale of Eve and of female ‘obedience’ The two second-prize winners this year were both very strong contenders and I was grateful for the competition’s offering of a double second award, which both of these poems richly deserve. ‘A Quantum Physicist Teaches Me the Observer Effect’ very skilfully works a striking sense of chronology and scale into its poignant account of the narrator’s continuing experience of powerlessness – a homeless parent with their child ‘rescued’ by a physicist, the poem’s narrowing arrangement on the page accelerating our reading as the moment for repayment closes in. In rather similar ways, the journey from the opening line to the poem’s moment of arrival in ‘Caught’ – describing the narrator’s recollected first close-up encounter with a dead mole – is paved with brilliant and immediate observational detail whilst at the same time conjuring a subtle sense of the scene’s crucial moment in a longer narrative of growing understanding.

In all three winning pieces, coincidentally, a second figure beyond the ‘I’ of the narration hovers significantly at the edge of the scene – in every case, a powerful evocation of the centrality of human relationship to individual experience. Reading all these poems, hearing the voices in them, has reinforced that understanding in me even though sadly as always only a few can make it to the final selection.

JD Feb 2024

Highly Commended

Rachel Burns – Swan Upping

Oliver Comins – ‘spring guns and mantraps on these premises’

Zoe Green – Cianalas

Roisin Leggett – Morning

Caroline Maldonado –  Mudlines

Lynda Plater – Dusk at Martham


Previous Years’ reports and winning poems

Reports and winning poems from 2023 previous years may be viewed and read by following this link initially.

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.