GIVEN WORDS thanks everyone who sent their poem with the five words chosen from Las Moscas (‘Flies’) by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. They received 144 poems and have made a selection from these to publish here on Given Words. The winning poems have been selected by the poets Mikaela Nyman, Jordan Jace and Charles Olsen. (You can read about them here.)
You can read the judges’ comments here.
GIVEN WORDS is delighted to announce the winning poets. The winner of Best Poem is Stuart Airey for his poem I am a Blue Whale Heart, and the winner of the Under-16 category is Sarah-Kate Simons for her poem Attic. They will receive books courtesy of Landing Press and The Cuba Press respectively as well as being translated into Spanish and published on Palabras Prestadas. More details of the book prizes can be found here. Congratulations from Given Words, Landing Press and The Cuba Press.
Below are the winning poems. You can read the judges’ selection of the rest of the poems from adults here and from under-16s here. All the entries had to contain the words: letter, childhood, fly (the animal), greedy and dream.
I Am a Blue Whale Heart
In this current re-make of me I am becoming the heart of a blue whale
I dreamt myself an angel but this wasn’t enough
He was wondrous but stuck
like a fly in amber
You can hear a whale heartbeat from 2 miles away
which is the distance I want to be from unleavened nurse smiles
and the choice of ensure or tube
No tampering with the drip lines
Friends I am un-distending
I wonder as my zipper finds free air
whether Eve had to eat the whole apple
I liked my angel
counting calories and grams together
his feather vane minutiae
A whale heart aorta is as big as a dinner plate
Why does food have such gravity?
My angel’s face was an open letter
to each whispered treatment
our greedy midnight exercises
A whale heart – blue – is as heavy as a Lion (adult, male)
which is exactly what you need
for beautiful dying
I wish I could take my angel’s place
sleeve my childhood into the wall
When a whale dives deep its heartbeat slows
slows in the black to 2 beats per minute
just 2 beats left to still to marble
Stuart Airey, Hamilton
all the days of childhood collected in sepia
photographs in the crevices of
the boards watching the greedy dust
descend to settle on their faces
age has curled up their edges into love hearts
like the shape she used to replace the dots on
her i’s; tiny lopsided hearts that flood the pages
of the stack of letters resting in the bottom of
the rickety suitcase, its faded travel stickers
peeling off and flaking away like the nails on fingers
pressed to an anxious mouth and these funny little
dreams of things swirl up like moths from the piles
of outgrown clothing and fill the air with their wing powder
turning the musty scent of forgotten things into a phantom
of lily of the valley; the lid of the harpsichord crammed against
the broken dollhouse is propped open on a sewing box
and in the murk of memories there’s a song tiptoeing up the keys
— or is it just the bluebottle fly scratching its wings
against the windowpane and whining to be set free
Sarah-Kate Simons, age 15, Canterbury
Stuart Airey lives in Hamilton with his wonderful wife and has three children who have mostly left home. He writes poetry as therapy or possibly for more perplexing reasons. He has been a Sarah Broom finalist and was shortlisted for the Julia Darling Memorial Prize. Stuart has been published in the Molotov Cocktail Journal with a short story and third place in the Shadow Poetry Award. These successes have managed to pay for several cups of coffee. He has dabbled in multi-media performance poetry and dreams of being a jazz pianist. His poem entry for given words is an honest attempt to enter the thoughts of those suffering from anorexia as well as being more widely read.
Sarah-Kate Simons is a 15 year old home-schooled girl from rural Canterbury. Her day job consists of schoolwork and volunteering at her local wildlife park, where she gets to walk the llamas. She loves to go on biking and tramping holidays with her family, and tries her hand at all sorts of arts and crafts. She is also the proud owner of a very naughty puppy named Missy.
Sarah-Kate eats, breathes and sleeps writing in all its forms—poetry, flash fiction, short stories and novels. She can often be caught talking to thin air as she tries to figure out time travel for her latest novel or peeking into nooks and crannies in search of her next poem.