It was so so close and rather like a race in which first one contender and then the other edges out into the lead. But in the end it was Sally Festing’s ‘Sunday Mornings’ which triumphed, its gentleness, familiarity and economy of words with the sense of time, of ‘a deep truth…’ hovering behind, marking it as the voters’ choice.
Sally Festing’s sixth collection will be published in 2021 with KFS. Others followed journalism, radio plays, academic studies, biographies of Gertrude Jekyll, Barbara Hepworth, and other non-fiction. She has been published in a large number of magazines, see (www.sallyfesting.info).
You place the pieces on the table
pendulum rocker-arm weights escape wheel
use a toothbrush frisk the cogs
There is a limit to tightening the time
a risk of breaking
The grandfather should not be tilted
sideways backwards or forwards
It must stand as if it supports the sky
Voters comments included:
Concise, evocative of the importance of ceremony, how it supports our lives – a kind of still point in a turning world
It creates a feeling of both time and family, in their broadest sense, with a skilfully economic set of images.
Perfectly formed, utterly striking imagery. Not a word wasted.
I like the density of the poem, from the precise description of the task to the philosophical meaning of Time.
I enjoy the precise economy of it. Also I once lived in the same house as a grandfather clock and appreciate what’s involved in caring for one…
I felt I understood how time, cannot be bent to our will, even though sometimes we want to slow it down or speed it up.
The poem by Sally Festing reflects most beautifully our own Sunday clock winding.
I am an admirer of Sally Festing’s poems and though very sparse, I find this poem extremely evocative.
love how you feel a part of the process of the grandfather clock
The poem brings such strong childhood memories….
Importance of routine and family memories
For its resonance
It evokes many memories of my sister Annabel, who loves her clocks and is forever trying to get them right.
Economy of words. Big subject.
Tight and tidy. I like the use of alliteration etc.
The gentle routine feels so comforting.
I love the last line.
Always in control of her subject matter, building to a convincing ending. Nothing fancy or overdone. Quotable
I like the TICK TOCK economy of words & motion & come from a family of horologists.
Seemingly a mundane subject, but implying a much deeper meaning.
Creates warmth of childhood security in routines
It conjures an image so strong its almost tactile
THE REST OF THE MARCH 2021 SHORTLIST
Beachcombing at Night by Dean Atta
I find a broken compass
behind his right ear,
two Euros behind his left,
bent spoons in each armpit,
AA batteries behind both
of his knees. He hands me
a torch, nothing happens
when I flick the switch.
‘Ah!’ I swap the batteries
for the ones from his knees,
but they only make this dim,
Dean Atta’s debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His novel in verse, The Black Flamingo, won the 2020 Stonewall Book Award. Website: deanatta.com / Twitter: @deanatta / Instagram: @deanatta
Happiness in my lockdown sock drawer by Sarah L. Dixon
Test-tubes, conical flasks and molecules.
Back to A Level Chemistry with Mr Cartwright
we learn about magnetism with marker pen examples.
A moon lander, planets and a telescope
and I am back in my childhood room,
sticking Joddrell Bank stars to my ceiling.
Dinosaurs, complete and skeletons.
Remind me of that ruler from the museum,
the dinosaurs hologrammed to skeletal and back.
Walking peacocks, their tails low.
and wide-eyed open feathers
on the other foot.
Mustard mushrooms and burgundy leaves.
I can almost smell the forest floor,
feel the damp soil.
Sarah L Dixon lives in Linthwaite, Huddersfield. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being in and by water and adventures with her son, Frank. Sarah misses pubs and poetry adventures in other cities and seeing the sea. http://thequietcompere.co.uk/
New same Year by Steph Ellen Feeney
Every day, I am a mother,
and I am asked to explain
things I don’t really understand
– like contrails or the monarchy or how Cheerios
are made –
but I am running out of words
My country lighting itself
your eyes hopeful
for an answer
to the necessary Why?
My lame reply:
Can you eat
For a lifetime, I’ll regret that lie.
Let me answer now:
We humans, if we cannot fly,
we choose to die
bringing others down.
Flock of starlings high in murmuration
out the kitchen window. There is a why
for every seeming senseless flight
Steph Ellen Feeney was born in Louisiana, and holds a BA from Georgetown University and an MA from UCL. She lives in Suffolk, where she is working on her first collection of poetry.
We Secretly Hate You by Oliver Sedano-Jones
Here’s our booth, come sit with us for a second.
Come share this necklace with us.
The vibrations here are excellent all night.
Have you read Mira Kirshenbaum? That’s okay.
Have a sniff of this. It’s meant to hurt a little. Listen:
Tonight’s soul night.
DJs churn out hits like celestial ice-cream machines.
Ballerinas crack their joints, long ribs
Curling like petals round the heart.
Tonight’s a night for admiring the brain’s pearl inlays.
Don’t waste it worrying about your mother’s operation.
We’re expecting a lot from you so pay attention.
We have a secret.
Do you want to know what it is?
Feel our shoes thumping on the heart’s red dancefloor.
See the oblong men peeling scales from their knuckles.
Are you ready to dance?
Here’s a dance for you.
It’s that dance you do that says
Me Me Me, it’s always about Me.
Honey you’re a natural.
Oh come on, honey. You know we’re kidding.
You know we love you.
But sometimes it’s like there’s nothing
Between your legs, not even light.
Did we say that out loud?
Always so sensitive.
We don’t think there’s light between the legs.
There or anywhere.
Just a fleeting firmness burnt in by the bodythirst.
It gets pretty bad on nights like these
When it’s impossible to walk away from a good gory argument.
Look at all these scarecrows pining after the birds.
Look at all these lips colliding like steam-powered worm trains.
Look at all these limbs pouring out of people then back in.
Look at all this light pouring out the ceiling
Like how children pour from god.
Look at us, look back at us. We’re so totally here for you.
You’re practically our favourite person.
Oliver Sedano-Jones is a British-Peruvian poet. His work has appeared in FLAR, Marathon and The Northridge Review. He was shortlisted for the Yeats Prize in 2018, the University of Hertfordshire Single Poem Prize in 2019, and the Wales Poetry Award 2020.
After Visiting Grandma by Ellora Sutton
After Susan B. Anthony Somers-Willett
I walk home from the bone orchard,
my fist a jaw of keys. To think
I used to know nothing of teeth.
Like any good hunter I wear the pelt of the beast –
my first boyfriend’s red hoodie.
It smells now only of cheap orange blossom perfume.
Wolf, your lads called you.
I gave you a more guttural name, blackbirds
in the hedge startled to flight
by a sudden sharpness of light. Wolf,
you monosyllable, I am fine.
Your snout on the inside of my knee,
I thought you’d always be able to sniff me out
or follow the breadcrumbs I didn’t mean to leave –
hair, skin, an eyelash or three in the campus library lift.
Someday, I like to think, I will waltz into a lover’s boudoir
and see you there in the throat of a hundred scented candles,
your wolfskin a high-end Siberian rug on the floor.
We will ride you like a magic carpet,
you will be beyond the help of any drycleaner
but for now, Wolf,
I will content myself with walking past your grandmother’s house
secretly hoping that you are in, that you’ll see me from the kitchen window
and come running with your red tongue out
so I can scream at you in the street in front of your grandmother,
your grandmother’s neighbours, and, most importantly,
you grandmother’s neighbours’ daughters,
and be blooded, be rebranded, a hag, a wild hag.
Ellora Sutton is a Creative Writing MA student from Hampshire. She won the inaugural Artlyst Art to Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the 2020 Bridport Prize. Her debut chapbook is out now from Nightingale & Sparrow. She tweets @ellora_sutton.