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Poem of the Month:
Feb 15

Listen to Jill Townsend reading her winning poem (Aug 14) Sun Block

Competition 2015 OPEN

poetry Issue 14 guidelines

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Competition 2014 RESULTS

poetry latest Issue, 13

Dilys Wood at Brittle Star

see Dilys’s Guest Blog on Ambitious Women Poets







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Poem of the Month

Round 8, Month 6. Kate Foley, the judge of this month’s competition, has selected Jean Atkin’s The Children of Lir, as her winning poem. Her four commended poets are Anna Avebury, Elizabeth Burns, Rose Flint and Sue Rose.

The Children of Lir

His hands were folded. He seemed
to be waiting. I saw him lower
his eyes to earth
as I landed, a brother at each wing tip.
Behind us the sea lough tolled with the bell.
When it had stopped, he spoke.
I remember the coarseness of his robe,
his mudstained feet. His voice was narrow
as reeds. Rain fell.
We heard him out.
I searched my brothers’ eyes: and then
we spread our wings. I felt the loosening
of flight feathers, saw them fall;
I watched smooth plumage snow
from thinning bones.
I folded, for the first time, shriven fingers
and with my stranger’s hand I touched – and found
skin slack on flesh and desert dry.
My hair curved round me
long and faint and grey.
White down fanned to ground.
Shameless, my favourite brother stood
and stared into the sky. I saw him lank
and naked.
His eyes filled. I took his hand.
The monk prayed. Rain fell.

Jean Atkin

Poem published: Poetry Ireland Review 106 (2012).

Judge’s comment:
Quiet, spare and lyrical, this poem distills the essential story of The Children of Lir so that it’s not necessary to know the myth before understanding the mystery that is its key. The ‘sea lough tolled with the bell’ and the holy man spoke with a voice ‘narrow as reeds’. With a few meticulously placed images the surprise of the Children at their wakening to ‘thinning bones’ and ‘skin slack on flesh’ is poignantly recorded. Does the ‘loosening / of flight feathers‘ perhaps also speak to our own surprise at how late it has become?

Kate Foley

Mammogram, by Anna Avebury
Letter to Katherine Mansfield, by Elizabeth Burns
Moontrade, by Rose Flint
S31082011, by Sue Rose