Poetry (60 lines) Winners

Poetry (60 lines max): Winners

Winning Poetry Entries
(titles listed in reverse order)

All the comments below are from our judge, Tim Liardet.

‘Writing sixty-line poems is arguably more exacting than writing shorter poems. The risks are the loss of focus, direction and the leaking of energy along the way. A sixty-line poem, because it is longer, has more to say: in order to say more, it has to adhere to its internal logic. A sixty-line poem is double the length of the average size poem so it has to be able to carry its ambition. Dare I say it? It has to have just a little bit of epic intent. It has to know what it is aiming for and come at it from as acute an angle as possible. It has to start strongly and end strongly and not flag or wander or forget itself in the middle.

‘All the Plaza poems I read took account of these issues. Each in its own very particular way successfully mastered the form and made it their own. Each justified the choice to write a longer poem, established its logic, and stuck with it. Each was its own kind of epic. The most remarkable thing was the commitment to language. Not one of them settled for any sort of orthodox stance. The energy was sustained throughout, the trajectory kept. They were poems of great intensity sustained by the management of what, more often than not, was a longer-than-average line. They were memorably original, each held in place by an integrated voice. The poems used language to transform experience into something quite extraordinary.’

Highly Commended (4th) – ‘The Long Before’ by Autumn Richardson (CAN)

‘THE LONG BEFORE is a prose poem of exquisite movement, carefully wrought in eight sections: the touch is delicate, the atmosphere intense. It moves from acute observations of the natural world—The lake is a taut skin. No geese today’—to an equally intense and reflective interiority: ‘I will slough the dead cells from my body, make a censer / of this room, pour its smoke over me.’ The segues are risked, the unity never lost. All the smells of global warning infuse every word and the water-snake, Nerodia, is addressed directly. The poem is full of longing, anger and memory where the natural world and human instinct conflate: ‘…thoughts,’ writes the poet, ‘are falling like feathers from the kill.’ Memorable.’

3rd prize – ‘Gazcue: Socorro Sanchez con Santiago’ by Jose Buera (ESP)

‘GAZCUE: SOCORRO SANCHEZ CON SANTIAGO is a lifelike poem of technical elegance, skill and intelligence: what begins with the dog of ‘pure English pointer blood’ ends with a ‘calling for a dog that never comes.’ The tone is elegiac, and developed with great effect. The loose blank verse, written in immaculate sestets, is the ideal vehicle for telling this very particular story. Between the dog at the beginning and dog at the end, life teems, and the off-play between observation and imagination brings memorable lines: ‘The pavement takes a first gulp / of light from streetlamps, a cue for the late start /of the crepuscular orchestra…’ It is a poem of sounds: the dog’s woof jumps to the parrot’s replica woof which jumps to the claxons of the taxis which jump to the crickets and the tree-frogs. I can still hear all of them.’

2nd prize – ‘The First Rastaman in Space’ by Dora Taylor (ENG)

‘THE FIRST RASTAMAN IN SPACE is a witty, uplifting and compulsive fantasia written in Rastafarian dialect. The high-pitched energy never once dips from beginning to end of its forty-seven lines: ‘cha – how that likkle spec home to so much choopidness?’ Im look at the stars, and see each one a sparkling pickney’s eye’ says the first Rastaman looking down on earth. Though the tone is mischievous and the suddenness of imagery often very funny, the poem carries with it a serious political undertow. The long portmanteau lines bring movement, momentum, and maximise its field of vision. The voice is strong and confident, the focus fierce, the image-building terrific, but the poem’s first and assured strength is its music. I loved it. ‘The First Rastaman in Space’ is a euphonic triumph.’

1st prize – ‘Landswept’ by John D. Kelly (N. IRE)

‘LANDSWEPT is a courageous poem. It manages the short, tactfully punctuated line with such skill that it magnifies the telling detail and has a way of drawing the reader into an intimate relationship with the harrowing subject matter. It stayed with me for days. The poem speaks loudly and clearly of the destructive realities currently stealing the newsfeed. In so few words, it touches on Bucha, Irpin, and Gostomel as much as it touches on Gaza City, Deir el-Balah, and Rafah. The poet eschews ‘greedy hubris’ and ‘smart-assed lines’ and wishes the poem, above all else, rarely and emphatically, not to be about her/him/them. Literary ambition, irony, even language itself, is subsumed to what is being said as the poem moves almost soundlessly through the gasps of its white spaces towards a haunting, devastating conclusion.’

Well done to those 4 poets who won. They will receive their prizes at our 2024 awards ceremony and their poems will be published in The Plaza Prizes Anthology in October 2024, along with all those on the shortlist.

The NEW Plaza Poetry Prize (20 lines) is open to enter. Judge: Lachlan McKinnon. 1st prize: £1,000. Deadline: 30th September 2024.

The Plaza Audio Poetry Prize (4 mins max) is also open to enter. Why not record your poetry? Judge: Paul Farley. 1st prize: £1,000. Deadline: 30th June 2024.