I’m feeling very lucky, and rather giddy, and very grateful. My poem A Cure for Rosesickness is one of three highly commended in this year’s Live Canon International Poetry Prize, judged by Zaffar Kunial. It’s also published in the competition anthology, which features all 50 longlisted poems.
The giddiness may be due in part to a certain amount of Prosecco I imbibed at yesterday’s anthology launch/performance/prize-giving bash at Greenwich Theatre. It’s the performance part which makes this competition so special. All 21 shortlisted poems were performed, from memory, by three members of the Live Canon Ensemble – on this occasion Guy Clark, Jim Scott and Rebecca Hare. What an amazing achievement by these super-talented actors, who brought each poem vividly to life at such short notice – the shortlist was only announced on Friday! It was a privilege to hear Rebecca read my poem so beautifully. You can get a flavour of the Live Canon experience on their YouTube channel.
And after the performances, the prize announcements. The Borough prize for a local Greenwich poem was awarded to Steph Morris, for his funny and sharp poem Keep calm and cross off, one of several poems tilting at the current political climate. I’d come to enjoy the afternoon, and still couldn’t quite believe my poem was on the shortlist. So to hear it was highly commended – gasp! Really?? And by a poet whose work has moved me to tears . . . oh my word! Also highly commended, and coincidentally next to each other in the anthology, very fine poems by James O’Hara-Knight and E. E .Jones. The overall winner, for her wonderful poem Ouroboros, was Ella Duffy.
Then there was more Prosecco in the bar, catching up with poetry friends and making new ones, while I was still in a disbelieving daze that the poem I’d written over 4 years ago for a Mixed Borders residency that didn’t happened, that I’d sent out nine times before without success, was now, not just out in the world, but highly commended.
Thank you, Live Canon. Thank you, Zaffar Kunial. Thank you, well wishers everywhere. And congratulations to everyone who made it into the anthology, onto the shortlist, my fellow ‘commendees’, and especially Ella Duffy. What a super Sunday afternoon!
Photos: Nick Rogers