Winning Poems The Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2019

Winning Poems The Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition 2019

0 0
First prize – Tammy Armstrong (Canada) for Digitalis
Tammy Armstrong’s publications include four poetry collections and two novels. She has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, short-listed for the CBC Literary Prize, and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. She also holds a PhD in English literature and Critical Animal Studies from the University of New Brunswick, and served as a 2011-2012 Canada-U.S. Fulbright Scholar. She now lives in a lobster fishing village, on the south shore of Nova Scotia. She was The 2017 winner of the iYeats International Poetry Competition.


Didn’t this garden grow a little topsy
scattergun        open-bellied    over night

and didn’t these under-freckled bells
lean and bow
bob and sway their spires
without the wind’s wild and open

and didn’t they tall and slender
their way into moon gardens
and lend their lippy blossoms to foxes
who slippered them over their paws
to mute their night raids
through poultry yards

                                                                       no trace, no dew collected
                                                            though shadows crept out from under things
                                                                                and lengthened

Up-rushed in patches of glow             in the melds

digitalis’ thrushy tongues
open themselves to bees                     vibrating beyond their fleshed-in walls
their stove-in-the-throat narrows to sepal

                                                                           how mouth like
                                                                                   how yawn

All have light in them
              and something traced over
              in their reachings
making them stand their spires
and lean           over felled land           fire barrens
old sites of deciduous rot

Magic in them maybe
              why the murre’s eggs are green
why the foxes jackal-call across the fog
taking on the shape of the heart’s ferny secrecies
              and something unvisual belling awake.

Judges Comments: An immersive nature poem: where language, spastic tenses and fluid grammar burst forth from a nursery-like fairy-tale beginning to overpower the page. Very much like the foxgloves of the title, which are wont to erupt in every barren or grassy verge or neglected corner.

Second Prize – Partridge Boswell (USA) for The New Math
Recipient of this year’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize for his poem “Flying home after the protest,” Partridge Boswell is the author of Some Far Country, winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize. His poems have recently surfaced in The Gettysburg Review, Salmagundi, The American Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review. Co-founder of Bookstock literary festival and the poetry/music group Los Lorcas Trio, he teaches at Burlington Writers Workshop.

The New Math

Maybe there’s still time to find the cosine of x.

Granted, there were plenty of deeds leases loans wills…
        all needing another signature, but under that mountain
of whipped cream, who can taste the square root of π’s flaky crust?

Maybe I inadvertently used the fundamental theorem to calculate
        a grocery bill or two. And aren’t antiderivatives trafficked
on a daily basis in veneration to masters whose open flame

I’d dare not filch to light an e-cigarette of imitation?
         Witting or otherwise, I’m pretty sure the logarithm and
algorithm for predicting how hard my heart can love you

haven’t yet been tested, likewise how fast your flight from
          Cincinnati will get to this bedroom travelling at y miles per
second, given a hypothetical jet small enough to land neatly

between dresser and bed. I usually just Google-map it.
           I have plenty of word problems without integrating
integers. Sure as Heisenberg, I’ve admired the imperfect

geometry of our home from time to time—how it floats us
           on the welter of a flood we saw coming through Hubble’s
backward-facing scope—though I can never remember

the exact cubits or show my work. Far as I can see, counting
          helps with sheep and contractions, to get you through contra-
diction’s rough patches. Who can resist the cold comfort in: Numbers

never lie, only people do? Who knows, maybe now that we
           forgo so many candles on the cake, I’ll entangle myself in
imaginary roots of polynomials and transcendentals constant

as our old friend π. I’ll sled curved slopes of snow and reckon
           small pebbles on the beach. It won’t nonplus or minus me to think
they’ll each soon be their own world of sand…then infinitesimal…

then nothing we can see…just like you and me, one day
           supine on another shore where despite our best calculations
there is no variable why and time can no longer count or be

applied as a function of fear to ignore what’s here. A shore
           where there is no sine that warns Swim at Your Own Risk
only the tangent when, after a life of coming infinitely close,

we touch.

Judges Comments: Math theory and wit combine into a metaphor for life, love, and a counter-argument to the Law of Diminishing Returns.


Commended Poems
Mark Totterdell (UK) for Syrinx
Judges Comments: Shocking imagery is wonderfully employed to show the disparity between human ingenuity in its mimicry of nature and the inviolable essence of nature itself.
PR Walker (UK) for Care Home Visit
Judges Comments:Homelessness and elderly dementia were a common theme in many of the poems that were entered, but in this poem they are employed together, and with a difference. This is a poem that shows how any of us can be so heavily desensitized in our compassion by the common troubles that assail us all.
Janet Lees (Isle of Mann) for Today I Have a Glass Head
Jufges Comments: This one is a surrealist poem that follows the internal logic of its narrative to the letter. A poem very much like glass itself: at times clear, iridescent, brittle.
Bernie Crawford (IRL) for Metastasis 
Judges Comments: The central imagery of this poem is both striking and memorable; the metaphor of its inner workings progresses through the poem right up to its surprising denouement.
Faye Boland (IRL) for Nobody Wants to Die

Judges Comments: A poem that employs a litany-call of death and near-death and culminates in the sort of illusion of hope we all might cling to when there is nothing else.

Hugh McMillam (UK) for A Curlew Cries
Judges Comments: Here we have a contemplation on the passing of things that are irretrievable. A poem that is fatalistic in many ways, but ultimately quite beautiful.




Leave a Reply