South Downs Poetry Festival Competition
The Binsted Prize
judged by James Simpson
James Simpson is a Jerwood/Arvon award winner and a prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy
Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. He is author of several collections of
poems including: The Untenanted Room (Agenda Editions 2011) and
The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter (Hedgehog Poetry Press 2018).
Original unpublished poems were invited on any theme.
Twelve of the Prizewinners will read their poems in Binsted Church
(BN18 0LL) during the poetry evening, one of the events in the 2019 Binsted Art Festival,
on Friday 7 June, 2019 at 7 pm
We are pleased to announce the competition results, as judged by James Simpson, whose report will be posted shortly. The poems by the three Binsted Prize winners are to be found below.
The poems of the Highly Commended and Commended poets will be published in the competition anthology in time for the Binsted Arts Festival (June 7-9), and will be available at the poetry evening in Binsted church on June 7.
First Anna Kisby Five Times Raccoon
Second Sylvia Oldroyd Tribute
Third Eleanor Punter Carols
Robin Ford Days without End
Philip Burton The Cloudbuster
Roger Elkin Credo
Pat Murgatroyd Eating a Pomegranate with a Pin
Anna Kisby A Candle burning down, rural France,1858
Anna Kisby Bald Eagle
Maya Pieris I Always Look
Rosemary Black Yellow Archangel
Chris Warren-Adamson When the child appears
Ben Ray The thoughts of Charles Byrne
Mandy Pannett Q and After
Mandy Pannett The Last Notch
Roger Elkin Starlings, gathering
Philip Burton Moonlight Found
Diana Brighouse When did you last eat and drink, do you have any allergies
Romola Parish Scop-sweg: The Beowulf poet considers his composition
Lin Lundie A love poem in the dark
Ben Ray Winter at the Sands Café
David Simpson You’ve ten minutes to cut my hair?
Sarah Lundie Menopause
Anthony Watts Friday Man
Lizzie Smith Klimt Triptych
Anne Stewart Going through the albums
The judging of the South Downs Poetry Festival Competition and the selection of The Binstead Prize was an unexpected pleasure. Without a theme to constrain the entrants the submissions were multifarious and varied in scope, subject and form. From over three hundred poems it was left to me to whittle down to a final twenty-six commended and winning poems.
During the selection process I looked for poems with a distinctive voice, strong imagery and which attempted an exploratory use of the language. Most importantly I chose work that I felt sustained a vivid and continuous dream in the reader’s mind. What Coleridge calls that ‘Shaping spirit of the Imagination’. The three prizewinning poems in particular, were successful in achieving this.
The best poems have a metabolic quality, they are living creations in their own right. In the ‘Place of the Imagination’ (the relational space where the reader inhabits the world created by the writer) the best work becomes a living visceral thing. The generative wildfire spark that is present in the subject, author and reader becomes embodied and heart-beatingly real.
I like to think, that in these winning and commended poems, we have works which achieve in the ‘Place of the Imagination’ a union of inner and outer worlds and demonstrate a kindling of their own unique wildfire sparks.
James Simpson Heyshott May 2019
Five Times Raccoon by Anna Kisby
First thing this morning you tell me you can’t
drive me to California after all and the reason is
raccoons. Raccoons are impetuous, slyer than fox,
mischief-creators. You are regretful, won’t meet my eye –
raccoons came in the night, dismantled the VW.
Of all God’s creatures they are most adept
at unscrewing hub-caps; our wheels are rolling
down our drive, worse –
our seats are out of joint,
our steering wheel stolen – it is spinning
at the top of the neighbourhood stone pine,
a distressed saturn.
You tell me raccoons are survivors –
adapt to the city, thrive in the wild –
a plip-plop accompaniment of tears
as I realise we’ll never make a den
inside a redwood as we planned.
Whoever is photographing us
from the space station, yawns
and looks away, we are so meh
out on our front lawn, speaking raccoon,
gesticulating in raccoon
meanwhile under our soles
nocturnal creatures in burrows
are building war machines
from what they’ve scavenged
yada-yada-yada-squeak we say
Remember that time we were speeding
on the freeway and passed the car-struck
raccoon? It was staggering on two legs, weaving
in and out the road again.
We should have stopped.
Time passes and you can bend
the dead, fix the little things.
On this occasion I put
my finger to your lips
to shut you up, adjust the angle
of your raccoon-skin hat –
its brilliant tail, a talisman
while how we split up
rises to the heavens, joins
all the other cute animals
the balloon-man made, let-go
afloat above America
Tribute by Sylvia Oldroyd
He was never a man
to show much respect;
would hardly have touched
his cap to royalty.
Trench-digging on the allotment,
he heard the clip of hooves
echo in the hollowed lane,
but no clink of harness;
straightened his back,
thrust spade in soil
with such force that it juddered,
strode to the gate to watch them
still keeping in step, pulling
together to leave a straight furrow.
In the distance a tractor
droned like an irritating fly.
He stood to attention, head bared,
eyes front in the wind’s cold burn
as the last pair of Shires from Trigger’s Farm
came pounding proud up the lane to slaughter.
Carols by Eleanor Punter
Dad likes it dark and bitter.
Peeling back foil
snapping off squares;
to help him write
on Polish Catholicism.
they drink tea, wash down
sticky wedges of cake;
hard as bone.
They call my name
but I am
in my head,
the sugar fizz rush
on my tongue and
when curtains will be drawn
and sherry poured
into thin stemmed glasses
for clumsy hands
I will lie
on my bed;
a blown out egg
listening to carols,
flutter light as snow
one by icy one
all over my skin.
Details of the Binsted Arts Festival 2019 programme can be found on
and for the South Downs Poetry Festival on www.sdpf.org.uk/