First Prize

Awarded to 

Isi Unikowski

Canberra

for his poem

Who among the angels will find you if you move?

Unfazed by the coast road, we welcomed the challenge

of beaches heaped with wrack and kelp,

the uncertainty of estuaries gargling inland.

Neither offered nor seeking the locals' help

we volunteered to take the King's shilling

and gusted forth in an armada of vans

to appear beside unsuspecting straits,

bearing our strange totem across blanched tundras,

down cool corridors of shade beside dry-stone lanes

or out from some eternal grimy nowhere under

a fire-escape into midday-cambered street,

all on the assumption we had a lien

on any place with a name or GPS coordinate.

In lairy parkas or Hawaiian shirts we took our snaps;

and if sometimes the aperture missed a turning,

no-one could accuse us of a major lapse

in plying our trade: nothing made us deviate

around the patriarch and his ageing wife yearning

under the terebinth, or those doomed towns on the savannah.

Our lenses were the centre of a circle that is everywhere;

 

the cursor receding, as if fending

off retirees in their motorhomes, schoolkids on cycles.

We laid chevrons down on macadam like manna,

to be gathered as directions demanded; found

opportune rams in their thickets, junk food scraps,

billboards and graffiti; filled our jars

from the remorseless shaduf

of history's resentments; in chic boulevards or dusty bazaars

you could find us portrayed in antique maps

as cherubs puffing zephyrs of reproof

at the gaps left by burned, abandoned villages.

Our wings cover our eyes; your faces

grow unclear, blurred by the time we must

have spent out there, hurrying past all the places

we could not or would not go, a triage

of what had to be recorded so faithfully,

                        so faithfully missed.

Isi Unikowski is a Canberran poet, who has been widely published in Australia and overseas. His published poetry can be

viewed at https://www.isiunikowski.net/.

 

His first collection, Kintsugi, is forthcoming in August 2022 from Puncher & Wattman, New South Wales.

Isi will receive his Prize Certificate at The Hill of Content Bookshop 85 Bourke Street, Melbourne, and read his poem on Saturday July 9 next.  2. 00  to  3.30 PM  All welcome.

The following poets work was

Highly Commended

(No particular order)

Lesson

Jenny Pollak

Domestic

Tug Dumbly

Peacocks

Ron Pretty

The following poets

work was Commended

(No particular order)

Diary

Alison J Barton

Christmas Day 2021

Anne Casey

Aisling

Anne Casey

In among the ruins, love

Denise O'Hagan

Spring in Albuquerque

Kerry Bonnie

Taste

Tug Dumbly

Audible Lines

Jonathan Cant

University Lake

Tracey-Anne Forbes

Today, continued

Richard James Allen

    Yeats Poetry Competition 2021

    Judges Report

    We would encourage all entrants to this competition to keep in mind that this competition is named in honour of W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), whose life and worl drew upon several strong streams of lived experience. One hopes that entrants have read

    at least a basic biography, be familiar with the wondrous variety of his works, as well as the canons of European literature. Not that pale imitations of Yeats are being sought, but his poems could well be explore as models and inspiration.

    More than 150 poems were received, and there was a great range of subject matter, variations in style and in craft. Accordingly, the judges had much reading and deliberation before deciding on their final choices.

    The best offerings successfully maried emotion, thought and form, paying attention to the decencies of poetry.

    Highly Commended Poems  (in no particular order                                                                   

    Jenny Pollak                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

     

    NSW                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                               

       

    Lesson                                                                                                                                               

    Say this is the lesson

     

    with the shadow fleeting

    then with the swallows

    backlit

    like embroidery

    When they came from behind fast

    and disappear in shade

    its a reminder

    When they shine like two knives in air

    the lesson is

    to keep trying

                                                                                  The dead are their bones

                                                                                         and then their bones

                                                                                                        completely

                                                                                     The families are bereft

                                                                                            There are no signs

                                                                                 unless the ones we make

                                                                            We place great store in birds

                                                                                                     who also die

                                                                                              and whose bones

                                                                                                        also vanish

    Today its a whipbird

    cracking its song on the blind cliffs

    Which send it back 

    Which makes the darkness

    blacker than before

    This way a knock will make a house

    appear

    more vacant

    when it stays

    unanswered

                                                                 The birds are singing note for note

                                                                                         the shape of the hill

                                                                                         The thing the hill is

                                                                                                in this moment

                                                                                                                being

                                                                   How no other shape can be made

                                                                                            without lessening

    The sea is on time

    also

    the sun

    The hill

    the eucalypts

    the boats on their mooring       All of them

    complicit

    Leaning towards the exact measure

    that the earth,

    which also curves to the tune of something

    that has already being named,

    hums

     

    Tug Dumbly

     

    Domestic

    Just quilting and unraveling the thing.

    Penelope was probably happy doing that,

    flattered by a bunch of oily freeloaders

    she didn't have to touch, the toyed with

    idea of an absent husband better by far

    than the smelly goatish fact of him

    turning up with ten years of BO and VD

    from a Boys Night Out battling monsters

    and fucking witches on the high seas.

    Who could live up, or down, to that?

    And then what? Him at home endlessly

    jawing his tales, like a pub bore, fisherman's

    fables about the one that got away

    head and tail growing more between the hands

    with each deadly retelling; poor Cyclops

    ever expanding, like an accordion, from

    the wretched one-eyed shepherd they bullied

    into a multi-storied ogre of awe.

    Or him off his face on Lotus flowers, imagining

    his faulty smoke alarm as a Siren call.

    Yes, what a treat, 'King Odysseus', bored

    to shit down on the farm, stumping about

    pulling fat Elvis karate kicks at menacing

    olive trees, bellowing up a nightly meat feast

    for him and his pissed mates, berating his

    kid for being a pale bedwetting vegan Goth

    who brings home the wrong kind of dates . . .

    No, all things considered, tried for size on,

    better to tip Border Patrol: 'hey, he's on the horizon'.

    Ron Pretty

    NSW

    Peacocks

    When the rain came that afternoon, I

    put on the Emperor. At first I thought

    it was the peacock strutting on the roof

    scrabbling around, but no, it was

    the downpour flooding the damp ground.

    I had seen them earlier, the peacocks

    head to head, cock to hen in what appeared to be

    avian affection. Washed away, I shouldn't doubt,

    in the downpour that followed. Lovers

    caught in the rain often find passion

    drying with the return of the sun. I wonder

    if I'll see those birds so intimate again.

    Perhaps it was the rain souring my mood

    or perhaps just the slow movement

    of the concerto feathering my melancholy.

    Ludwig had no plumage. He found

    a deeper brilliance than any peacock blue,

    but his lady students found him dull,

    even in some ways a turkey. Each of those

    beautiful talented girls declined his affection,

    went looking for glossier birds. By then

    he could not hear the rain, but saw

    that look on their faces and fed it

    into the slow movement of the Emperor

    while winter washed the streets of Vienna.

    Commended Poems

    Alison J Barton

    Victoria

    Diary

    Monday

    Slept with pages in my eyes. Troughs undermined our mouths. We wanted to

    believe in the underworld.The retreat to silence failed: rules were without a

    game.

    While thickets grew in green, summer would be black. A stay in a flowerbed

    of lavender sheets split petals down the centre. Each year this garden will fill

    me with water.

    Thursday

    Found no beauty today but what I already had. Forgot to leave burdens alone.

    A disassemblage contained the sun like birds and monoliths.

    We lived here when this street was foreign to me. We were a paradise to be

    ruined. Rain could not help us now.

    I sensed something was right, my heart like an attack.

    Saturday

    The moon covered half your face and stencilled your shoulder. I managed my

    grief, filled your space with the brazen tips of my fingers, relaxed back to

    tense, landed somewhere I did not recognise.

    The night-time

    Neither of us uttered your name. We were made of the city, where our

    stars used to be. The weight of a ribbon from birth to fluid.

    Tuesday

    A black-out wound through like fire, hunted and trialled my mistakes both

    minor and fatal.

    What you sewed could not be untangled. They break doors down falling

    through like an ocean.

    Friday

    I diagnosed a freind between the colours that morphed to descending lines on

    fleshy skin maps, a aheavy grey. Broached subjects softly or not at all, gave

    away hatchlings in place of you.

    Sunday

    I am worse for asking. I grip questions so tight that my tied heart told me not

    to and broke stories of silent families in cement. We bridge the night.

    Wednesday

    They say I am queen, that my grandmother was a bushland dweller, both grand and mother. They say the earth

    tremored me.