Here is the fourth instalment of the judges’ views on the listed poems which were performed in the Elwin Room on Saturday 26th September 2015.
Nikki Kenna : Taking Leopard in St Ives
Seeing five thousand year old engravings of giraffe, rhinoceros and lion pecked into stone in Twyfelfontein, Namibia heightened my belief in the power of animals to alter the mind. In Taking Leopard in St Ives, I call on the feelings I experienced watching a wild leopard under a Mopane bush in Chobe, Botswana to overcome winter humdrum. The judges liked the affectionate and convincing juxtaposition of the wildness of Africa with the cosiness of St Ives.
Carolyn King : Elemental
Carolyn King, not usually a fan of Damien Hirst, was indeed bowled over by his life-size silver statue of St Bartholomew, with the flail of skin over one arm, at the Royal Academy. She wrote this short poem after a much longer one in which she explored the connection with St Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital, London. The judges liked the seemingly effortless journey in Elemental from the mundane to the sublime, as well as admiring the many surprises on the way.
Wendy Klein : Taking Carrie Up
My grandfather was a terrifying old autocrat who scared the life out of all of us. I have written many poems about the fear and consternation he caused during my growing up, but I thought it was time to show off his finer qualities. A Jewish refugee from Czarist oppression, he was a true civil libertarian and had no truck with racism of any kind. He told this family story with great gusto. The judges said of Wendy’s two poems that they liked the way each created its own universe, its web of multiple, deftly drawn human relationships and the filmic quality of the detailed observation. The poems were both pleasingly understated and compact which added greatly to their powerful effect.
Wendy Klein : Nothing to Declare
This poem is nothing more, nothing less than the postlude to a family reunion across continents where the strange tug of mothers and daughters is re-established and celebrated.