I enjoyed writing and researching this challenge, and to an even greater degree, I enjoyed reading the varied and delightful responses. I am very grateful to judge Misky of Plumb-Lines for doing a job which I would have found near impossible: deciding on this week’s winners. I now hand over to her for this week’s results:
First Place: Departing Day by Valdis Stakle
As I traversed the fells one night
The sun was going down
I viewed the mountains, saw their might
The sky a gleaming crown
The sunset blazed – A burning red
A flame consumed the sky
The day departing – Almost dead
Expiring with a sigh
I longed at once to steal the scene
And bind it to my heart
The contrast of a light so keen
As daylight did depart
But dawn, I know, will come again
Another day begin
Will it bring sunshine, cloud or rain?
The light, once more, will win
Judge’s comments: Where are my walking boots. This lovely poem with its marching-clip-clop tempo, and tight end-rhymes was a delight to read. I also appreciated the structure: a beginning, mid-point, and optimistic ending. I came back to this poem several times during the week just for its joy and familiarity. Yes, for me it was a hiking holiday in the Lake District many years ago. Thanks for refreshing my memory.
Second Place: Gazette Etches by Nick Reeves
He thought of the lake as it was in September,
the shuffled bed clouding his boots, the feathered
arc of barbed lure and curling sky gathered
in its good-natured mirror: reflections
of banks of bowed shadow, hogweed and boxwood woven,
lament of foxglove, of wax cap, marsh marigold, clove.
He imagined himself, knitted with midges, as a man fishing
the rain-trembled water, the stillness within.
He thought of the lake as it was in September
as these gazette etches on the February water.
Judge’s comments: I enjoyed this poem – vividly rich and textured with so many aspects of nature. I spent many long afternoons with my father on rivers, fly fishing, and never catching much. For anyone who fishes, this line is the essence of why we stand in the rain, thigh-deep in icy water: “rain-trembled water, the stillness within.”
Third Place: While Children Play on a Tyre Swing by ‘Out of the Cave’
This spring the green is wild,
profuse and supreme, exotic and extant –
the white cane chair
left on the lawn
seems to float in clovery billows.
Over a mower’s roar
and the whispered conspiracy of the wind,
the children’s voices
are cheerfully elemental
like the clatter of rain.
Painted shadows tangle, restless and involuntary;
and dancing grass tips gesture and curtsy;
shuffled leaf-piles quiver timidly – a choreographed colour spectrum
as perfectly conglomerate as an artist’s palette
or the piling silver of a waterfall.
We are the blind but chaotic worms
joining fearlessly, ignorantly in
with the spinning clock of seasons…
the layering of the earth,
the measured perfection of decay.
Judge’s comments: This is an interesting piece. The first two stanzas are strong enough to hold the whole poem. Children’s voices compared to the clatter of rain is excellent, and the sound comes immediately to ones ears. Perfectly described. I was completely taken in by the first two stanzas.
Firstly, congratulations to our winners, and to everyone who took part. Most especially to this week’s winner, Valdis. Valdis is a retired local government officer who now devotes his leisure time to painting, with the occasional foray into literature. You can see examples of his artwork on Instagram.
Normally at this time, I would offer Valdis the chance to judge next week’s challenge, but with some sadness I must announce that I will be taking a break from hosting the EIF Poetry Challenge for the next few months. The reason for this is I will be working hard to bring The Anthropocene Hymnal to fruition. I announced this project at the weekend, and have already had a fantastic response. I feel passionately about this project, and therefore must commit adequate time to ensure its success. Your next challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to submit a poem to this anthology. The deadline for submissions is 31/03/21.