The Battered Moons Poetry Competition Presents the 7 winning poems and three meteorites In association with the SWINDON FESTIVAL of LITERATURE 2011 Image Credit: Saturns moon Phoebe NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Battered Moons Poetry Competition 2011ForewordOrganising and co-judging the second Battered Moon Poetry Competition has been arewarding challenge and a privilege. There were over 150 entries, encouraging for acompetition in just its second year and offering no cash prizes. It was possible onlybecause of the generous effort of its supporters: Matt Holland as Artswordsdevelopment worker and Director of the Swindon Festival of Literature, co-judgeLesley Saunders, registrar and advisor Hilda Sheehan, Mark Stopforth in his arbitratorrole. To all of them my admiration and gratitude.But the real headliners are the people who sent their poems. These are, ultimately,what Battered Moons is all about. However isolated and lonely your word-craft mayappear, you belong in this creative community, and we wanted to hear your voice.You proved determination and courage in sending your poems for us to consider andmade the effort worthwhile. Thank you.Among in the poems submitted, there were those that caught our attention for theiraccomplished style. They brought language alive, grabbed our attention, had resonanceand staying power, conjured intense, vivid scenes and drew the reader into their world.Their flashes of insight, invention and know-how made them memorable and invitedthe reader to come back to them. We would like to share them through the publicationof this booklet. The order of the winning poems follows a personal reflection of howthey work best as a sequence. I sought some contrast between one poem and the next.Appearances lent itself to opening the series, with its slower pace and breathingspaces, and a very suitable title. I aimed at an alternation of pulses and style thatmoved towards the rhythmic buzz of The Honeysuckle Corridor of Certain Doom,sensing their arrangement almost as a recital of chamber music.Alongside the 7 winning poems you will find three by the people who were moreclosely involved in the competition process. As poets, we would like to approach youwith a sample of our own work, rather than merely our names and credentials.We look forward to hearing the winners read their poems at the Swindon Festival ofLiterature, where we will also have the pleasure of listening to our guest poet PaulFarley, a lecturer at Lancaster University and recipient of numerous awards andrecognitions, including the Arvon Poetry Competition, the Forward Poetry Prize forBest First Collection, a Somerset Maugham Award, an Arts Council Writers Award,the Whitbread Poetry Award, was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year1999, and has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. To the Battered Moons PoetryCompetition winners, our warm congratulations and best wishes for their future work.Cristina Newton, co- judge and organiser, April 2011 Image Credit: Saturns moon Phoebe NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Appearances by Gavin SalisburyGibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, 12 August 2008Under an umbrella on the beachbinoculars raised to the wavesin back-handedsalute to the passing storm,I stand just outsidethe breeding-bird exclusion zone.The world mists upin glass. Two Arctic skuasblack-capped sea marauderssally from the sandharry sandwich terns for their catch,settle again to watch mewatching. I resign the face-offand walk back inside the dune lineto the managed edge of the salt marshto be greeted bythe sudden sky.V-winged, up floatthe land harriersMontagus and marshas if turned on by the sun,dark solarpanels lifted in relief.They scour the green earth for a living.Within minutesI am down to a T-shirt.More slowlyas the harriers driftaway in opposite directionsthe last mist clearsfrom my second sights,filling me withempty horizons.
Ophelia by Linda SnellThese yellow flags, they are everywhere;they will not catch my eye on this burst bank.Only the struck white of their fingers swirlsin blacker light. My sight washes down at them.Stems are for needling, I think; there isyellow again in strung marigolds and dark longpurples. They come to hand; weeds lapat my knees. Stems can be wrapped in sucha green blanket. Teach me to care and notto care; teach me to lie still. The willow slantsforsaken; she weeps across the stream. I cansee the glaucous in her leaves; they lift and falllift and fall quickly. These are vicissitudes.Do you like that? Oh. You are not here and Iforget it. Tell me the truth. See if you can.I have made now a circlet. Yellow eyes peepat me. Where shall I hang it? Nettles forbidyet there is a branch. It reaches out to me. Fallingthey say is a fast thing; hoops make a slownessof it. How they settle on the surface, circleafter circle; how my hair flows under water.It is my element: cold and numb with blackfor a colour. I breathe in bubbles; plants givestill life to me. Through lenses, the skyseems even blue. I wait without hope, forthere is no hope, not even for the differentnessof an ending. I hear only his words; theyfloat from a pocket. Ink dissolves in the water.He said, Doubt not my Love. Did he mean it?
the hanger on by John RichardsonWhen I saw your collection of meat hooks,their silent silvered gleam piercing the darknessin the garage full of well-worn ropes, the blocksand tackle; it was then I remembered that tough testinitiation. All those ladders, brushes and paint,the long, long climb to your first globish, waxymoon, its blacked out wane, twice-fortnight feintand now its all the cranks, levers and jacks Hehas you to pull on the shrouding sky each night.The same laddered up haul, the back-ache climbto carry another star, another hook, another brightglitterati to hang in the black drop, the dime after dimethumbed in the meter and still not content He expects you,at every turn, to rubbish the star gazers trying to amaze us,knows their rheumy-eyed recounts will be out. (One or twodelusional, think theyve got it all sussed). But you, without fusslet my hands smooth salve into rope-worn scars,let me undo your ligaments toil of knots, rub tender balmin the rack of your back. So I took your fingers, thatve held stars,into my mouth to taste the nights contentment; the calm.It was then I knew,without a spark,it was you, and only you,that could light my dark.
The unbearable consequence of putting your head inside someoneelses then trying to get it back out again without them noticing by Michael ScottI wanted to fill your heartwith cellophane winged dragonfliesbut choked your headwith wasps insteadmy eyeless thoughtlessburied in gut concretepins me to earthreal now gasps wordsback to my tongueselfish escape not undoneheavy unableclogs your earslast nights adrenalinesticky useless todayI stainmouthless indelible breathlessalbatross arms cling youstoop friendfeel how weighty my me isI complicatedefuse nowbooby-trapped thud wired to my ribscut redcut bluerun
Ditched by Elinor BrooksShe sits by the roadsidecrunching an applehis ripe corn dollyoff-duty barmaidhair blond and braided.He flattens the field with herplaiting her platinumlimbs underneath hertying her neckin a bright tight knot.He tramples the husks of herinto the ditchthen spinning the spokesof her battered back wheelhe walks to his carSunday drivergoing to the pubto eat his lunch. * * *What was she doing,out in the countrysideall by herself?Asking for trouble.Tomorrow hell moveback up north.
Coming to light by Janice BoothThe distant headlamps of a solitary car, eyesyellow as a feral cats, define the lonely journeyof a Fenland road, where vacant window panesstare out at flinty fields. Along the sluices,water shivers in the easterlies at Eau Brink,Magdalen, where pumping stations squatagainst the sky. Pink footed geese trailin the thermals of the morning Fenman,white wings effortlessly messaging the widening skywith upward loops that lift the loosening day.I know this land – the way dull irrigation dykesflame pink along the flat horizonin the suns first blast of light. And how,like calotypes upon a visceral dawn,our mirrored selves squint through the glass- to see the metamorphosis of night.
The Honeysuckle Corridor of Certain Doom by Heather ONeillEach day I test the sonic boomFacing down the honeysuckleCorridor of Certain Doom.Cause magic happens when you buckleUp to speed beyond all noise.Away from the drone I tuck allInto a dot so dense Im poisedTo surf on the edge of collapseTo new worlds, avoiding asteroidsIm not there to hit - Im that fast.My boom are wings of shields of saveMe steel. I make the sound. In fact,Black notes. I make time stop on the stave.Youre knocked out by my inflatableSilence. I wind through a crystal mazeTo be anywhere but here and stungBy such a lonely buzz. My heart swells,I hold my hands and run.
Watch by Lesley SaundersIn their hearts they are the island nation,race of islanders, even the inland tribeswho have only the dream of sea are obsessedwith horizons and the voluptuous possibilityof ships. Unassailable as cliffs they have goneto the end of the earth to the edge of the landto see for themselves how war looks like a sail.On the outskirts of towns there are artichoke bedsand the serene mooring on a slow-moving Fromeand after lights out the late night shipping news.Still their eyes have the scrimped sheen of sea-glassand in the simple dawn they bandage their heartslike world-forsakers against the bottomless crossingthrough fog to the outcrop, atoll, holm.Written as part of a residency at Acton Court and firstpublished in 2010
A Tragedy from a Bathtub by Hilda SheehanI listened to my father recite Shakespeare,from his bathtub, my earto the bathroom door.He was my jewel set in a silver sea,my mighty Caesar.Our mother, Juliet,was downstairsstaring at the washing up,dreaming of Romeo,her lover,whod mown our lawnrough and rude as love;cut tree branches dagger sharp.After his bath,my father found the washing up had not been done;it sat in the swamp of the sink mourningfor my mother who was found on the lawn,presumed dead.Romeo lay above her,speared by the branch of a tree,blood dripping our white roses red.When mother awoke,she tackled the washing up,but found life too dull without Romeo,so she left through a doorI could never find in the cellar.I listened to my father recite Wordsworth,for he believed no harm could come of daffodils,and I was lonely as the cloud he lay onwhile our washing up grewinto a crockery mountain.
Speechcraft by Cristina NewtonI write his speeches for him.He can sleep in peace – he knowshe can leave the rigmaroleof fetching metaphors to me.I slide current notions into a sleek-swung sling,and lithium phrases broadcast their buzzon the see-saw sways of counterpoised analogies.I set them to a mnemonic beatthat he wears well. His voice meldsthe scores into a corollary that just slides down.He memorises lines like lyrics, lists,rehearsing as he shaves, mock-lecturingthe mirror in the lift, self-addressingsafety-glazed reflections in the back of cars.He beats himself to it; in record timehe digests the cud he chewed, while he chewsthe turf he grazed. Now its his role to stand in the red-shiftof public light, and distill the logic of stellar parallax.The words I wrote and he delivers have becomehimself. The world spins, tilts on a blunt ax-is. The picture is now the eyethat shuts down for the night.In his sleep, I edit his peace speeches.
The Winning PoetsJanice Booth has seen her own children grow up in Swindon but she herself startedlife in Norfolk. Meaningful landscapes and a working life committed to East Asianphilosophy and medicine are two ongoing sources of inspiration. She finds writinga comfort, making sense of the muddle of the mundane, and when a winning poemcomes along – joy!Elinor Brooks: "There is a thin line between the time-bound world of our sensesand the world of our imaginative empathy: I like to cross these borders in mypoetry. I was born in Edinburgh, love romantic landscapes, and when Im notwriting can be found in the pub playing an Oriental strategy board game calledGo".Heather ONeill is a Swindon housewife, raising two small boys. Previously sheworked as, among other things, a secondary school teacher and a 70s discowedding singer. A late comer to poetry, shes still regularly surprised by how usefuland enjoyable it can be.John Richardson: "Ive been writing poetry since my early forties; with interestsranging from the Tang dynasty, through Argentinian, Greek, Russian, Spanish to20th Century American poetry. My poems are about: family, friends, relationships,love and cheese. My poetic influences are John Ashbery and J.H. Prynne. Ivepublished three collections and am a founder member of BlueGate poets".Gavin Salisbury has been writing and publishing poetry and fiction since the earlynineties. His latest solo publication is The Far Sense, a collection of speculativefiction short stories, which was published by Sams Dot Publishing (USA) last year.Visit Gavins website at http://gavin-salisbury.com for more information.Michael ScottMichael loves words, his favourite word is lagrima. / A Koestler Trust PoetryMentor, he believes that poems / have no walls, doors, locks, railings. / Poems arenot made of glass. / Michael harvests poetry from alcoholism, Peruvian street-life/and Swindon word soup. / Michael reads poetry in Swindon, Bath, Bristol, /Cheltenham and London. / Sometimes he is allowed back.Linda Snell is the rose pruner at Sheldon Manor, near Chippenham. She has hadpoems published in: Equinox, Envoi, The Interpreters House, South, Obsessed withPipework and Iota. She won first prize in the Wiltshire poetry competition last yearand was also short-listed in the Grace Dieu poetry competition. She is co-founderof the Corsham Poetry Society.
Registrar and advisorHilda Sheehans poems have appeared on the BBC Website, The Rialto, NationalPoetry Society Website, The New Writer and South magazines. She performs herwork at poetry events all over the South West region. She gained a distinction increative writing with the Open University. Hilda is Assistant to Swindon ArtswordsLiterature Development Worker.JudgesLesley Saunders is a published poet with several volumes to her name, includingChristina the Astonishing (with Jane Draycott), Her Leafy Eye (withartist/photographer Geoff Carr) and No Doves. She has held several poetryresidencies, written various commissions and won a number of major poetry awards,including the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2008. See www.lesleysaunders.org.uk .Cristina (Navazo-Eguía) Newton published poetry in Spanish in two collections andfive anthologies before moving to Swindon, where she is involved in education,poetry workshops and reviews, wildlife projects, hondo-flamenco singing and raisingher children. Some of her English poems have appeared in journals and becomefinalists at Bridport, Gregory ODonoghue, Strokestown and Aesthetica.
Battered Moons Poetry Competition 2011: REPORTThe Swindon Festival of Literature, now in its 18th year, attracts large audiences forits guest writers and speakers. So it is exciting and appropriate that Swindon also hasits own poetry competition. This is the second year of the Battered Moonscompetition, for adult poets from Swindon and its moons – all towns and villages inthe SN postcode area.The judges in 2011 were published poets Cristina Newton, organiser of thecompetition, and Lesley Saunders, who has several awards to her name. Both judgesread all poems. They looked for the general qualities that help to make a poem good,including:•originality of thought and expression•the ability to attract and sustain readers interest•an element of surprise, some unique and unpredictable idea, image or turn of phrase•technical accomplishment: control of language, image, patterning and structure.A good number of submissions, including the seven winners, were all enjoyablyoriginal in terms of their chosen subject matter or in their treatment of a theme; andin many entries there was a sense that the writers really wanted to put their words outinto the world, to be heard and understood. Some poems also contained surprises, or– even better – were clearly the expression of a practised individual voice.Technical accomplishment was where the winners stood out – they showed adeveloping command of their medium, an ability to create and control their verse-forms, words and images, so that the poem was able to bring an occasion or idea orfeeling vividly to life. These were the poems that used language (from the titleonwards) in fresh rather than second-hand ways; that, even when the theme was afamiliar one, like time passing or old memories or nature, tried to find the new thingto say about it; and that, however short or long they were, knew when to stop. Thejudges were struck by the unusual images and inventive, allusive turns of phrase thateach of these poets had created and that made the judges want to read the poemsmore than once, in order to experience the inner or outer world with this particularpersons eyes and ears.The competition was an evident success and judges would like to thank all the poetsfor their entries and the organisers for creating this opportunity for local writers. Wewould also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the SwindonFestival of Literature and Artswords, its organiser Matt Hollands advice andassistance, the hard work and efficiency of our registrar and advisor Hilda Sheehan,the cooperation of arbitrator Mark Stopforth and all those who have contributed bypublicising and promoting the competition in the press, online and on radio.Lesley Saunders, March 2011 (A fuller version of this report can be read athttp://www.bluegatepoets.com/ ) Image Credit: Saturns moon Phoebe NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Judges: Lesley Saunders and Cristina Newton Arbitrator: Mark Stopforth Registrar: Hilda Sheehan Supported by the Swindon Festival of Literature and Artswords“Dim, dusty moon in second-hand light, worn and well-battered, but going.”