TEIGNMOUTH POETRY FESTIVAL 2020 – COMPETITION RESULTS
Local Competition Winners – Judged by Susan Taylor and Simon Williams
First Prize Liz Diamond - Harvesting with my grand-daughter
Second Prize Edward Aldous - Zero
Third Prize Mark Cooper - Clean Boots
Commended in alphabetical order
Liz Diamond – A Sacred Thing
Christina Siviter – Still
Marc Woodward – A Photographic History of Tractors
The Winning Poems
1st Prize – Local Competition
Harvesting with my grand-daughter by Liz Diamond
We walk together between the rows,
our feet cautious on uneven ground.
I hold your hand, then let it go to plunder
for the heavy bell-pulls of the cobs.
I tear one from its hidden place,
show you how to test for ripeness.
ripping back high leaves to reveal
fat beads of yellow reaching to the top.
Only the ripe ones, only these are best.
Your hands, quick, as light as flowers,
move amongst my rough and ageing ones.
The unwanted cobs lie discarded thickly
on the ground. Loss strikes me suddenly:
all the fallen years, all my harvests gone.
The bag is heavy now. My hand
clasps yours again. We turn to go and see
at the row’s far end, your mother is waving,
calling you back.
2nd Prize – Local Competition
Zero by Edward Aldous
“Did you have a target?”
“Yes, the result
was to be zero.”
She smiled softly. “But zero
is a limit, not a target. Zero is the limit
which cannot be achieved.”
was our target. When we finished, there were to be
Now a frown struggled with the smile.
“How could you be sure you had achieved your target?”
“You must remember we were meticulous record-keepers.
We knew how many came in through the gate,
and we knew that no-one ever passed out.
We simply counted all the corpses.
Some days it took longer than others.
The numbers were reported up the chain,
and every week a full report
was submitted to the central office. Once a month
they sent back a summary covering all the …
hmm … establishments. From time to time
the journals would publish tables, each based
on its particular interest. Occasionally
there was terrible news, that the numbers from one …
establishment did not tally. That was terrible,
because soon afterwards we would learn that a number
of staff had also died. Just to make up
the numbers, you see.”
For a moment she felt
she had nothing to say to this creature sitting
back in his chair as he sipped from a glass.
Annoyed by his nonchalance, she breathed deeply
while counting to ten, then stood up and murmured
“But surely you knew there were other ways
to achieve zero population growth?”
3rd Prize – Local Competition
Clean Boots by Mark Cooper
Our captain did not dismount and simply
held out his hand for the figurine.
For two days, we dug into the hill
to barrow our dead. Then, as it happened,
I brought treasure out of the wet.
She was born from thick black earth
and we pushed men in to replace her.
All business is best done quick.
He slipped her under his coat, medals clinking,
then rode back to the mess for port.
I deserted in the storm, as half-agreed by him,
and would never see that land again.
But I dream of the small, pert carving
born of the hill to give me life.
Mud remembers everything.