A highlight of the Buxton Festival Book Weekend was our poetry competition prize giving. Competition judges Matt Black, Philip Holland and Rob Stephens were joined on stage by winning poets from all three categories of the competition.
The event was opened by competition patron Lady Jasmine Cavendish who talked about the hard work that poets from across the country and the world (including USA, Canada, Brazil and Slovenia) had put into their poems. The winners of the Children’s and Youth Categories were then announced with the winning poets reading their poems to rapturous applause from the audience.
Following a speech by Professor Peter Dewhurst from competition sponsor The University of Derby the winners in the Open Category were announced in reserve order. Fifth place went to Ruth Quinn with her charming poem The Hidden Dragon. Fourth Place was awarded to Josh Ekroy for Entrepreneurs. Third Place was the wonderful A Winter Interlude by Philip Burton. Margaret Morey’s delightful poem Sixties Secret was in Second Place. And the First Prize in the Open Category of the 2016 Buxton Poetry Competition went to Roger Elkin with his moving piece called Songs Without Words.
Songs Without Words by Roger Elkin
What really stuck in Mum’s craw that next Summer
was surrendering her Bechstein baby grand,
that alter of arrival at which she’d taken daily stock
of her upbringing, and her mother’s sacrifice
putting her to the upright. Oh, how she’d ladedahed
at family and friends as graduating to this black-lacquered anvil
straddling the corner of her front room.
So would tackle it, side-saddling the piano-stool’s chintz,
hands lifting and flashing, trafficking the ruffles of notes
as if the caressing of ivories, the spread-fingered rending
were her sole hope of regaining self.
The she’s put all her stumbling discord
back together again with the sweet-saccharine
middle-class fanciness of those Songs Without Words,
the genius of Mendelssohn – uncircumcised Jewboy
become good Lutheran – in sister Fanny’s filigree piano-pieces:
musical antimacassars covering the vulnerabilities
of nothingness, the notes clustering
like sticky flies sucking at ripe blackberries
while Dad smiled wryly with his put-on face,
his fingers itching to switch his TV back to life.
So, from the moment the piano left–
legs rag-swagged for protection,
then jacked into the back
of Cheetham’s van –
she felt abandoned.
But never let on what she inwardly termed
till decades later after Dad had gone.
All that time, she kept schtum,
her version of words without songs.
Competition organiser Claire Barlow comments: it was a delight to meet all our shortlisted poems at the prize giving event. And to hear them read their poems to a warm audience of judges, patron, friends, family and supporters was a joy. I was particularly impressed by the stage-craft of our young winners who read their poems with great style and confidence.
Information on the 2017 Buxton Poetry Competition will be announced in the new year via www.buxtonfestival.co.uk. Thank you to all who entered this year, and congratulations to our winners and runners up.