I was delighted to hear a couple of days ago that I am the winner of the poetry section of this year's Gloucestershire Writers Network competition. I was a runner up in this competition a couple of years ago, so it's particularly satisfying that I've been successful this time around.
My poem 'How It Was' was inspired by meeting Richard Pietrass, an East German poet, and translating some of his work, which captures so well the contradictions between conformity and the resilience of individual human identity under dictatorship. As the theme of the GWN competition this year was 'people power', I was in a good position to write a poem on this very subject.
Thanks to Alison Brackenbury, the judge of the competition, for her generous comments on the poem:
'Everyone, I think, has moments of vision and it is the poet’s privilege to try to capture these. I felt that the winning poem, "How it Was", succeeded marvellously. Its brief but compelling lines convey the gap between the flags and ceremony of an oppressive state with the anarchic, private lives of its people. The poem is patterned by repeated, powerful contrasts. Its rhythms vary from the urgent beat of a short line about blood to the long-drawn-out fall of a lazy afternoon. This is a quiet but profound poem which I shall remember with admiration.'
I'll not post the poem here yet, as it will soon be appearing in the competition anthology. However, there will be an event in October at Cheltenham Literature Festival where the winners will read. More on that soon. And, if memory serves, there is even a trophy to collect - I'll make a space on the mantelpiece!