Winner of the Plough Prize
Posted on 13 April 2020
It's wonderful to have some good news in these strange times. A poem from my new book has been awarded first prize in the prestigious Plough Prize poetry competition.
It's especially heartening as it's a poem that means a great deal to me, and was selected by a judge whose work I admire immensely.
In the Judge's report Greta Stoddart says:
What I love most about this poem is what it doesn’t say. Although there is great clarity in the language - the syntax is sure and measured, the diction restrained - there is at the heart of the poem a mystery: who is this man? why is he holding the lily? what does the lily signify?
The scene is simply and vividly evoked and the controlled tone creates a powerful tension that lends itself brilliantly to the unexplained central image. An image that seems to resonate in my mind offering up powerful themes of identity, punishment, humiliation, sanctitude.
The poem has had the courage to leave out the basic tenets of explication - the who, where, when and why - but has responded fully to the important question of what. So the what - this strange and lonely procession - is beautifully described, allowing the reader space in which to watch and wonder. The lines in their subtle directness hint and suggest but ultimately do not explain. In this way the poem becomes larger than the single event it appears to be describing and touches on, and takes in, other moments in our history.
You can read the poem, and all of the wonderful poems chosen, on the prize site here -https://www.theploughprize.co.uk/index.php/2019