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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year


“I’ve realised that I am actually good enough and that I should stop doubting myself... Winning [Foyle] was the first item to tick off on my bucket list, so now, instead of dreaming, I’m going to go through life achieving those dreams.” – Emily Breeds, Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2016 (Commended)

Painting you the darkness: Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016 The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX www.poetrysociety.org.uk Cover: James Brown, jamesbrown.info © The Poetry Society & authors, 2017 The title of this anthology, Painting you the darkness, is from Emily Franklin’s poem ‘Apotelesma’.


Painting you the darkness Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Acknowledgements The Poetry Society is deeply grateful for the generous funding and commitment of the Foyle Foundation, and to Arts Council England for its ongoing support. We also thank Bare Fiction, Bloodaxe, Carcanet, Chatto & Windus, Divine Chocolate, Frances Lincoln, Faber and Faber, Forward Arts Foundation, Inpress Books, Jonathan Cape, Nine Arches, Pan Macmillan, Penned in the Margins, Picador, PN Review and Poems on the Underground for our winners’ prizes. We send our best wishes and gratitude to the judges, Malika Booker and W.N. Herbert, for their passion and enthusiasm in helping to make this year’s competition so successful. Thanks also to guest poet Ian McMillan. Our thanks to Southbank Centre for hosting the prize-giving ceremony and to Arvon for hosting the Foyle Young Poets’ residency. Thanks also to Marcus Stanton Communications for raising awareness of the competition, and our network of educators and poets across the UK for helping us to inspire so many young writers to engage with poetry and language. Finally, we applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of the young people, teachers and librarians who make the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award the success it is today. foyleyoungpoets.org


Contents Introduction Stan Stott-Hall Reem Sultan Ian Macartney Annabelle Fuller Nola Propst Daniel Blokh Emily Breeds Eileen Huang

red horse Khartoum, Forth Road Bridge wild blades PostScript Split Roads Sonder Nine Engravings Found in Barracks on Angel Island Cia Mangat TfL’s Red Blood Cells Riona Millar Kyoto Madeleine Woods Blackrock Bay Allison Huang What We Gathered From The Shards Marina McCready how to find the stars Magnus Dixon Longitudes Lucy Gardner Wolves of the Night Lucy Ruddle Gazing Crows Lorcan Greene Famine Jacob Mason-White Sea salt and clouds Annabelle Fuller wild blades Irina Petra Husti-Radulet Asleep in an opium field Jane Keenleyside Stinging Nettles Meredith Jones Broken Sestina Shaw Worth Self Portrait, Late Summer Rebecca Wright The Paperclip Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite Stitch Mukahang Limbu Mother Triptych Vivien Urban I can’t tell

6 9 10 11 12 14 15 16 18 20 22 23 24 26 28 30 31 32 34 35 36 38 40 42 43 44 46 49


Na’Imah Laurent-Dixon Ellie Whiteside Kara Jackson Margot Armbruster Helena McBurney Hannah Siobhan Emily Yin Gabriella Sills Abigail Green Finty Hunter Ezekiel Wallis Elizabeth Walmsley Davina Jandu Hannah Tankaria Chloe Clarke Ava Witonsky Ava Rowan Harker Annabelle Crowe Eira Murphy Alex Greenberg Lyra Davies Georgia Macfarlane Maria Calinescu Lucy Olsen Matthew Birch Margaret Zhang Louisa Saddler Grant Kim Harriet Harding Cara Nicholson Lucy Tiller

Seeds 50 rebirth in cotton 52 Blood 54 Cardiff 55 The Birthday Present 56 The Way She Loved Her Son 57 Nosocomephobia 58 My Grandmother’s Liberation 59 sunset at high tide 60 Submarine Hearts 61 Hysterectomy 62 Alzheimer’s 64 hair 65 I do not put the pro 66 in procrastination Weight 68 A Letter From Queen Amytis 70 Sexualise me 71 These Things Often Happen 72 The Hospital Tree 74 Prelude 76 The prenderghasts 78 Marble men 81 Orion walks me through an amour fou82 Lard 84 A butterfly 85 The Difference Between Giraffes 86 and Tarantulas The Figurative Café 88 How to Swallow a Breakup 89 The Tale Of Verity Chalker 90 Getting a Shock. 92 accompanist 94


Jolina Bradley Louise Chapman Aidan Forster Will Adams Rhiannon Williams Ruby Crook-English Rumaisa Zubairi Elisabeth Ololade Ajayi Rachel Herring Ella Standage Helen Woods Nikita Bastin Aileen Tierney Lily Zhou Freya Gray Stone Deryn Andrews Isabelle Tod Joscelyn Blood Emma Choi Hanna Hall Clarisse Wibault Enyu (Vivien) Lin Megan Freeman Rachel Poels

Mid Air Post it notes Boy with a Basket of Fruit Eden’s Ashes August [For James Schuyler] Heat Ink bilingualism Driftwood firefly Things worth knowing An Education Testaments of the Candy Shop Sales Associate Confession with Salted Salmon and Dried Lemons Bedside Traveller Sunlight through an open window Car Boot Sale I don’t know about tragedy Make it to the Moon Absence The Festive Feast Voyage of the world Turnips I am the rock

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 winners Foyle Foundation & The Poetry Society Young writers & The Poetry Society Schools & The Poetry Society Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 2017 entry form

96 97 98 100 101 102 104 105 106 108 109 110 112 116 118 120 121 122 124 126 127 128 130 131 133 134 135 136 135 137


Introduction “It is an honour and privilege to be judging the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016... this is the most exciting prize for young poets.” Malika Booker, 2016 judge Welcome to the anthology of the commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016. Since 1998 The Poetry Society have been finding, celebrating and nurturing the very best young poets from around the world through this prize. The award has been supported by the Foyle Foundation since 2001 and is firmly established as the key competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years. This year we received over 10,000 poems from more than 6,000 young poets from across the UK and around the world. Writers from 76 different countries entered the competition, from as far afield as Nicaragua, Kuwait, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan. From these poems this year’s judges, Malika Booker and W.N. Herbert, selected 15 top poets and a further 85 commended poets. The scale and global reach of the competition demonstrates the huge achievement of our winners. Judge W.N. Herbet says: “this was a year of film poems, poems bringing obscure words to vivid life, poems about the body, about the turbulent relationships between us and our partners, our parents, our ancestry... In short, it was a bumper year, providing ample evidence that the poem can do almost anything with the utmost economy, intensity, and, for the reader, engagement and delight. The judges hope everyone will enjoy reading these poems as much as we enjoyed choosing them.”

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This anthology features poems by the 85 poets commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016, and accompanies the Winners’ anthology, which is published in both a print edition and online. Both anthologies celebrate the talent of our fantastic winners and will be distributed free to schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world. We hope that the quality of writing on display will inspire even more young writers to enter the competition in future years. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a range of fantastic prizes, including a year’s Youth Membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag stuffed full of books donated by our generous supporters. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers, providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to an internship programme. The top 15 poets are also invited to attend a week’s residential writing course at Arvon’s centre in Shropshire, The Hurst. There they spend a week with experienced tutors focussing on improving their poetry and establishing a community of writers. Since it began, the award has kick-started the careers of some of the most exciting new poetic voices. Here is what some of our former Foyle Young Poets have achieved this year: Sarah Howe became the first person to win the T.S. Eliot prize with a debut collection; Helen Mort was invited to be a judge for the 2017 Man Booker Prize; and Imogen Cassels, Theophilus Kwek and Phoebe Stuckes were selected as winners of the 2015/16 Poetry Business New Poets Prize. Being selected as a Foyle Young Poet is a defining moment for young writers, and for many the point at which they begin to consider themselves poets. It builds a community of young writers who continue to support each other.

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Alongside the competition, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award programme runs a range of initiatives to encourage and enable young writers, both in school and independently. We distribute free teaching resources to every secondary school in the UK, share tips from talented teachers and arrange poet-led workshops in areas of low engagement. Each year we celebrate ‘Applauded Schools’ who contribute impressive numbers of entrants. Congratulations to our 2016 schools: Grange Technology College, Bradford, and Wembley High Technology College. We also identify ‘Teacher Trailblazers’: teachers and librarians recognised for their dedication to developing creative writing in schools. 2016’s Trailblazers Joanne Bowles of Tor Bridge High, Plymouth, and Kate Brackley of Kingston Grammar will be sharing their experience. The competition also feeds into The Poetry Society’s online platform, Young Poets Network, which provides a year-round selection of writing prompts, competitions and guidance for aspiring writers. Through this work we continue to support young poets everywhere, so that there is more outstanding poetry to celebrate every year.

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Stan Stott-Hall red horse tell me about the time when you were born when timber flames grinned in your father’s eyes as he sat, still, shedding your skin and he peeled you together when he let you out alone for the first time when you were young enough to still get splinters but old enough to feel the pain tell me of how your stumpy legs were tickled by those calloused fingers and how his other children let you play with them and that sunken cabin was warmer with you there

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Reem Sultan Khartoum, Sudan. I have never known a city that has dozed through upturning of axes or ambled through revolt. Your blood is soft orange, dripping lazy, honeyed rhythm. Your river simmers still like mama’s stew, the bed jigsawed with burnt spices and bones. Aunties gleam by, full and dewy like dates, days are sweetness, midnights a glassy balm. But we have seen the banks in your shadows where you save the profits of indolencebodies to make one Alhamdurillah while nursing the luck in their lineage. Notice a body, lining the traffic with a Daz box for a water closet.

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Ian Maccartney Forth Road Bridge Lights line the road like guards on the way to the steel-grey behemoth. We know it as the tower of storm cloud, the monolith holding the chains that keep the bridge together, a pylon sending Transition’s energy in wide wire arcs of silver. Platinum, maybe. This is our pilgrimage to the three-crossed god. Around us platinum pipes, leaning out of the air, rise quickly. Across the darkness of the river our clay-red counterpart imprints saltires in the night, welded kisses on a blue love letter. The top of these gate-like pillars of crossed fingers has a blinking light, white. Or green. We crossed over.

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Annabel Brazaitis Elegy for Chicago after Kevin Young strange how our bodies become buoys when the sky sheds bullets: limbs tucked into limbs, our flesh stitched. only in times like these do we understand we have built a life inside the walls • of too thin skin, the hollow of our bones like gutted bass: blanched, wax-eyed, supple. only now do we realize how easily we are torn. how easily we are stripped, bruised. we swallow • guns & pray they will disappear. we swallow & watch our flesh become pierced, scars swelling, gaping. we swallow until all

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we can do is wonder how our broken bodies still stay afloat • in a city that carries seeds of blood in its winds.

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Nola Propst PostScript I spent today planting hydrangeas in my grandmother’s front yard. She drenches the beds in lemon juice because hydrangeas’ color depends entirely upon the acidity level of the soil. She likes them to be blue, so they match the shutters. P.S. George Washington did not chop down the cherry tree. Did you know snakes use their jawbones to hear? Did you know snakes have jawbones in general? I don’t usually think of snakes having many bones. My grandfather uses a spade to rip scaly skin apart from fluffy red muscle whenever they find their way into his garage. He says that the tail usually writhes around on the ground for a time after it is dead. P.P.S. Vincent Van Gogh did not slice off his ear. A burned-out lightbulb fills with a color like bourbon, that rich and dirty brown that men swirl around in four-ounce glasses with their rollex watches and murky suits. This is how you tell when to throw the light bulb away. When the narrow waist of it is singed with the grip of 60 watts that finally snapped and dimmed. When you shake it, and something rattles. P.P.P.S. Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb.

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Daniel Blokh Split Roads My mother tells me of the one big difference between Germans and New Yorkers: how they cross roads. New Yorkers will walk against a red light without blinking an eye, while Germans will wait ages for the sign to turn to GO. This must be like those myths from childhood, two countries on different sides of the world direct opposites of one another. On Time’s Square, a pedestrian crowd pouring onto the road, while in Berlin a few old men patiently wait and watch the sign for hours. Somewhere in New York, a businessman must be hopping a car, his body gliding over the hood. And across the earth, a young German boy stands on one side of a road empty for miles, daring himself to step and remembering his mother’s warnings, ready for the whole world to crash down as he holds his breath and puts one foot onto the warm asphalt.

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Emily Breeds Sonder There is a part of the station where trains once blinked in and out of existence: a necessary part of most people’s lives (but easily overlooked). If you stood on the platform and watched the flash of red and blue and grey, you would briefly touch eyes with a stranger; if you blinked, you’d miss a whole host of them. No one thinks anything of it when it happens. But all those people you tersely connected with, all those people with their own stories as complex as yours, the person in the blue jacket holding onto a bar because all the seats have been used up, the girl holding a lukewarm polystyrene coffee cup, the light of a window whilst you walk down a dark street, the screeching rush of headlights that nearly hit you as you hurry across the road, mind clouded with the terror

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of what could have happened had you lingered any longer, they’re all gone now. The trains are as still as winter air, forever waiting in their dim tunnels. And our lives are all moving along the same track, united with need of shelter and survival.

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Eileen Huang Nine Engravings Found in Barracks on Angel Island From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island, located by Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, served as a prison-like detention center for over 175,000 Chinese immigrants. For days, weeks, or even months, Chinese detainees were interrogated and left in poor living conditions. In 1970, an island ranger uncovered sets of poems on the walls of the barracks, written in the traditional Tang style. Some phrases have been borrowed from the original poems and are noted in italics.

I. Grief sits as a sad person by the window. My wife told me not to pick wildflowers on the way here, but how could I not when I saw the cherries falling with a ripe thump, the magpies singing to the dandelions?

II. At home, not half a cup of rice could be scooped from the pot. This is a land with laws like tigers.

III. Confucius met a tiger, once. It had eaten the family of a woman weeping by the side of the road. Devoured the hands of her husband. When asked why she didn’t leave, she replied that at least it was a tiger. Surely a tiger is better than something bigger, fiercer, something else?

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IV. At home, I plowed the fields. Here, I am a swallow with a wooden frame. The waves are hungry children who grab at my ankles. V. Wasn’t Napoleon once a prisoner on a lonely rock? VI. The daughter of Yandi drowned while playing in the sea and turned into a golden bird. Now, she fills the sea with pebbles, dropping them from her beak, one by one. This is her revenge. To fill the sea until it spills over. VII. The migrating goose complains to the moon, lamenting on its harried life. Does the grass not complain of withering? Don’t the orchids shiver at their wilting? VIII. I left for this land when the Maiden Weaver met the Cowherd boy. She escaped to the moon on a bridge of magpies. Dipped her feet in the warm waters of galaxies. Kept her loom silent. IX. This is more of a parable – not a plea. Aren’t we all hoping for a sky bridge towards heaven? Perhaps it won’t come. Perhaps we’re all writing ourselves from the inside out.

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Cia Mangat TfL’s Red Blood Cells Red blood cells are the most common type of blood cell. Buses can be found at three to five minute intervals on the roads of London. A red blood cell’s purpose is to deliver oxygen to the tissues of the body. Passengers often board the bus near their homes and alight at their various destinations (work, school, etc). Every single cell is bright red and shaped to accommodate as much oxygen as possible. Threadbare seats and a double deck supposedly ensure that every single passenger has adequate room to sit beside (or lean against) a fellow passenger. Each cell has a very thin cell membrane to allow oxygen to diffuse through quickly.

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Passengers enter and leave through the double doors at the front and halfway down each bus. Red blood cells are vital: their main function is to transport oxygen, which is needed by all living cells so that they may respire. A subtle shade of chaos descends on the city when a bus strike takes place. Passengers travelling for work or school stare at the clotted blockages in the roads and swear that their hearts are collapsing in their buttoned-up chests.

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Riona Millar Kyoto: a ripe moon hangs luscious in the sky, casts ghosts across the lake. White-tipped bats wing across, trace the warm curves of the wind in the ripples. The cherry trees weep into the water; their tears cloudpinkened – small perfect unpeeling globes of spring.

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Madeleine Woods Blackrock Bay I want to ride out to Blackrock Bay with you, Look to my left and you’re in the passenger seat The wildest smile I’ve ever seen across your face. I want to see you cross-legged on the concrete wall, Grease on your fingertips from chips And a 99 to wash them down. The smell of the sea, fast food chips and your smile seemed a good mix. I want our legs touching on Sand between your toes. I want to feel your cool hands locked with mine by the waters edge, My feet gone blue from the seas deceiving clear water. The chill of the water didn’t matter because I had you close to me. We’d never kissed by any water And you joked that “there’s a first time for everything”. Salty lips from either the chips or the sea didn’t matter to me. Your blue eyes matched the gawking, rhythmic eyes of the ocean. I hoped this became a weekly ritual; Trips and kisses by the sea We’re okay to me.

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Allison Huang What We Gathered From The Shards “Perishable remains do not preserve well in midwestern soils. Nevertheless, Late Woodland peoples left impressions of their weaving permanently impressed on pottery.” – Museum of Natural History, Iowa City Five thousand years ago, a young woman is casting a clay pot. She is pressing it together slowly, allowing each curve to become itself, allowing the seams to dry before she piles more clay on top. A pristine, hollowed pear. At one point her sleeve is caught in its inner neck & preserved: twenty perfect stitches from handharvested cotton that twist & turn over one another to form silver inlaid scales or a tiny school of v-fish trailing each other tail to tail. At least that’s what we know from the shattered, gathered limbs of Native American pottery. The focus of this poem is not the breaking of the pot, perhaps tossed out of a moving horse cart or

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buried in the earth with gold in the middle of the night when the people were fleeing for their lives through a wicked winter in which they lost brothers, sisters, mothers & in the end had to poach their own forest gods or guide thunderous swathes of white people armed with fanny-packs through a silent wood in order to feed themselves. No – the point is that we know what they looked like & what they wore, but their most careful work has dissolved. Their beauty – or our knowledge of it – was a complete accident. We’ll never know what colors they used, how soft it was against the skin, where the cloth belonged. I can picture it now: the pot two palms with stitches burned between them, the stitches the wings of cranes nested carefully together, the cranes pressing in towards the sun, reminding us that earth-boundedness is only a temporary thing.

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Marina McCready how to find the stars i. it’s going to be a long night you’ll need coffee and a blanket ii. remain on your feet the stars have an arduous job the least you can do is stand iii. locate the sky it is big and it is dark and it is scary but so is life iv. listen out for the owls this will not help you find the stars but can be quite beautiful v. hush now: the stars are reclusive by nature don’t scare them away vi. in general, look upwards vii. sometimes if you sing a celestial lullaby they shine a little brighter viii. we have arbitrarily grouped the stars into constellations these are pretty but a social construct you are encouraged to make your own, cooler ones

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ix. don’t worry if a cloud covers their light sit tight. wait for the storm to pass x. stars may fall, tumbling through the void like cosmic kamikazes. do not shed a tear: they would not mourn you and the sky is so set aglow. it’s a wonderful night.

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Magnus Dixon Longitudes The Gammels A gentler gradient. Heather unravels into wrack and the fraying blue ghostnet that splices cliffs to sea and veins the waves’ exhaling lungs. Gamrie Bay Measure your breaths against clam shell silence, a rubato of water and white noise; the bursting of banks and gushing salt rush, then the Fresnel-lens fade, a breath. Crovie Gable walls shoulder a snaking high tide mark – setting their chimneys like pins in a chart or lanterns in windows. Shutters swing open and closed when the tide comes in – then recedes, spilling silt and cormorant feathers that stipple the sea-wall and upturned hulls.

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Lucy Gardner Wolves of the Night With the watery dawn, There has been frost on the blackthorn, Hedgehogs are sleeping, And the sky is weeping, With snow, With snow, The sky is weeping with snow. Now rabbits are waking, And birds are making, Their blossom songs heard in the trees, But with all this activity, it’s making me want to sneeze! Achoo! Achoo! It’s making me want to sneeze! As rutting roe bucks crash through the trees, There comes the buzz of stinging bees, The sun beats down on lazy cats, Humans lie asleep on sandy mats, On sandy mats, On sandy mats, Humans lie on sandy mats. As golden coins fall from branches, The rain falls in avalanches, Squirrels scurry to find food, Which in the spring they will lose,

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Lose, Lose, In the spring they will lose. With the watery dawn, There will be frost on the blackthorn, Hedgehogs are sleeping, The sky is weeping, With snow, With snow, The sky is weeping with snow.

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Lucy Ruddle Gazing Crows A pair of beautiful crows Are bobbing up and down on a spindly branch They simply sit there frozen in time Appreciating the picturesque world around them Crisp silhouettes, black as night Their lower jaw drops open and their beaks gape in synchronisation Every one of their talons grasps the tree in desperation Their miniature hearts pound inside their chest As if the world is about to come to an end Their azure eyes gleam like a diamond in the sunlight The midnight shade of their feathers contrasts starkly against the sunset sky The grass is swaying, the trees are creaking, the leaves are rustling, the wind is whistling Everything is tranquil The crows don’t shift, they stay stood stock still They are like ornaments, as motionless as a rock, staring into the distance

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Lorcan Greene Famine “Hic quondam morbo caeli miseranda coorta est tempestas totoque autumni incanduit aestu et genus omne neci pecudum dedit, omne ferarum, corrupitque lacus, infecit pabula tabo.” – Virgil, Georgics, Book III I saw them, sombre, slowly dredging up potatoes from the ground like ancient souls. I watched the clods crumble and topple, as they turned the old land for a living tuber, in friezes, like a reel of film unravelling, through the windows of a train. The farmer labours with his sickle and his curving plough but trudges home with rusty spears, and empty helmets, and another opened grave. Bent-double, in the silence of a polytunnel, these men are dying in their boots. I saw them, sombre, slowly dredging up – have you been out? No. And do not want to, perhaps?

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But midnight presses me. I lie – always – in full view of the stars, or crouched among the furrows. Take what you have found, and bring it to the hearth: from the broken flanks, among the liquefied peel, bees will buzz and swarm, and trail in vast clouds, westward, on towards an ocean of whose profondeurs we can but dream. And would you wall yourself with me, inside a roseless garden, and watch the ox fall, smoking from the plough’s great weight? The ploughman goes, sombre, slow, unyoking the bullock that grieves, and leaves the blade among the clods, stuck and left to rust there, in the middle of its work.

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Jacob Mason-White Sea salt and clouds There is drizzle in the black and it lingers cold up there hugging tight to itself like two wandering figures in grey hoods like shadows cast by orange street-lamps nestled into niches of the promenade as though hiding from the wind that combs the sand for heavy shells and runs through sleeping dunes faster than two shadows that fall exhausted onto the sand and each other and wonder if the red-brick terraces that look to sea have ever seen a sunny day as warm as this.

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Annabelle Fuller wild blades knife sharp, slicing through summer dew, glinting, green, and glassy grass blades rise. their deadly splices impale bare toes, (bowing pagan-like to slanting sunlight deities) leaving minute papercuts there, a hint of ruddy river running on the skin, and a tinge of moisture under the broken sole. among these swardy insulae, towerblocks of lea, weave snail conches, rough imperfect spirals lurching. hot-footed sparrows dart, retrieve an errant worm, displace a fox-hair clasping heather moss: bright purple ling a bruise poured out upon the clifftop, green mosses smothering and stifling. palpable wind lashes and smarts, a tangible whip to break and blind – foliage submits, a baby bird retreats to sheltered nest, jumps back into its crack-ridded egg to hide away, revert to soft-hued yolky youth. the image rests untamed as leaden raindrops pelt the broken life, grass foils never dulling, never blunted.

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Irina Petra Husti-Radulet Asleep in an opium field Asleep in an opium field Where poppies grow And ripple like dancing children Asleep in an opium field – Row after row Of swaying scarlet millions. The sky is engraved with fissures of cloud That glide their silk-webbed way And in sultry breezes the poppies bend bowed In otherworldly display. I lie and feel the quivering stalks Stirring my crumpled cheek And I am reminded of arms white as chalk Cradling me as I sleep. You stood in the frame of a milk-glass window Shattered to diamond-sharp drops As the sun beat down a merciless cinder And shadowed you from atop. Your arms were pale yet vividly coloured And vined with inky veins And ribbon-frayed, caramel hair would flutter As your gossamer train.

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You gleamed translucent and crystal-white An ethereal angel Illuminated by this halo of light And yet I knew your danger. To sleep’s sound promise I succumb, I yield Trusting it through and through Which is why I lie in an opium field Thinking only of you.

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Jane Keenleyside Stinging Nettles Ow! Crimped nettles curled at the base of the forest spine pounce upon your hand, the pain unfurling like a second skin of blooming blackthorns, fireworks which rot your – our fingertips. Wait – you say, wait! I think the pain appears quite gone. Curious, how it still hums, thrums in hands of mine now bundled in white lilies. Piping hot pie and pretty posies, 1st class letters unopened and shredded into confetti. “Don’t fret,” mother murmurs, squeezing your cheeks, rosy cheeks kindling the prickle of thorns. Blood trickling through bruises of poison ivy at your throat are shrugged underneath the collar. Upon the memory I swear, her hands envelope my neck. Was there a day between yesterday and today? Don’t seem to recall. Melodies in cigar smoke and emaciated paper applause, play haunting classics known to all men, charmingly – ‘wills and debts and dying wishes’. What stinging nettles? Seems like yesterday – perhaps a yesterday before that –

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And now I find myself in whitewashed rooms, words rotting behind my lips, mustering a faint you’ll be fine. But you can forgive this liar can’t you, as you drown in an ethanol grave. Forget our, no, your lungs sagging against eggshell ribs in every breath and ghostly knuckles wiping tears poured over icy lips. Wistfully watch how the breeze flees into the open ruffling pages of inky scrawls and prescriptions which will only to be balled up. I close the window and you huff, returned to reality. You’ll catch a cold, I say. A cold? The wheeze which rips through you is not quite as sad as the way it is a shadow of a laugh. You, as sweet as posies and pastries, immortal in 3rd class letters and doctor’s small talk, will have a new body dumped in your bed to waste away come three weeks. But instead of bones breaking down in slow motion, unwinding at the seams, your shuddering rasp comes, I swear it, wait – The pain appears quite gone.

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Meredith Jones Broken Sestina I meant to keep my body – it was supposed to be my mars. I think I left it at your house; do me a favor? Keep an eye out for it? I don’t want your sand in my mouth, unbury me from your bed. Be my robot, knuckle boy, care for me and cradle my egg. I closed my mouth around an egg, forced it down my throat. It is round and clamped in my body, clamped like robot hands on rocks on mars, so tight they run like sand from between aluminum bends. I cannot see – your sand got in my eyes. This is not care, knuckle boy, my eyes itch and my egg is open, jelly white. It is making the sand stick. I think that, like my body, gnats would flock to an egg like this, but this is mars, my egg is broken on the fourth body from the sun. You bit my egg. I said cradle, robot, that was wrong, robot, knuckle boy, you have soft hands, why was my egg in your mouth? Only I can eat birth. You are too boy, too robot, too mars; you will crack my stomach, break my egg. My egg is bodies. I meant my body to be my mars, my sand planet, tracks by you, knuckle boy, in my sand, your fingerprints and robot feet, lego prints in a body of not water. I can eat my egg over easy, easier than it is to bite into an eggshell, spill the yolk onto mars soil, let it drip off of robot lips. Let mars be red and egg. Let mars be knuckle boy and his sand. Let my body hold my egg, gently in my stomach, cradle like my robot would,

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


cradle like nest hands. I keep my bird eggs in a carton and my body eggs in my mars nest, my knuckle boy in my body and my body in his sand. My robot keeps his eye out for me? I mean his camera, I think?

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

41


Shaw Worth Self Portrait, Late Summer Let me make you a list: Rainy glass newly blossomed perdition blue curtain chipped framed jealousy swimming note swollen sweat preoccupied fond farewells articulated crackling consume shadow embroidered borders claw throbbing throes ostinato on my toe; Like a floodgate, my words hesitating on The edges of the pavement, missteps echoing throughout. It’s all right, I think. I hope so anyway streetlights light up any way elucidate my pain crimp my nails into a fan Embroider the edges paint the folds just for show drip honey through the night and sipping Back tears I think I’ll sit back for a while, let the time do its time and wring out my wrists like Exhibitions; clean dishes. I don’t think I was dreaming when I said that in between dissonances lie colours richer than the paint peeling off my walls Richer than a thousand miles driven. Laissez-faire latency smells like deodorant and dog-eared pages Frescoes decorate the halls, tea-stained paper enthralled by the old ink Bellicose words hanging off my pen singing oneiric idylls While my shopping cart clatters around with my footsteps, orders placed Delivery expected within four years.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Rebecca Wright The Paperclip I am the one who holds everything together Yet I always just tossed aside I never receive a thank you For the services that I provide I wait for you for hours And when you finally appear I am pulled in all directions Which totally destroys my career I am left battered and deformed So you replace me without a care Yes I am a defiant paperclip And I am not going anywhere I demand you twist me back Into my original, perfect shape How dare you throw me into your bag Between fruit peel and masking tape Your bag is dark and cavernous And I am missing my paper stack How are you managing to file without me? I insist you bend me back

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

43


Opefoluwa Sarah Adgebite Stitch “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 You run on ahead, butterflies of sweat circle the collar around your neck. Panting, crimson-faced, dry-boned and your throat is gaunt, muscles taut, feet slapping the pavement like the beats of hearts against a ragtag rib-cage. Darling, this isn’t the time to be refreshing scars, replenishing streams of blood from the oceans of your lungs. I cannot remember the last time I caught you up while on a run. You have always been a bird, free, waiting for nobody and nothing at the prison doors of mortgage house homes, at council estates and youth group conference rooms. I speak my words in the gaps between your sentences. As soon as you take a breath, I am there, sliding in like buttercups under blatant, blemished chins. You were there too, weren’t you? – amidst dirt-faced playgrounds and the shouts of scars from a moonlight road. You were there, weren’t you? – when Mama’s heart closed in on itself; saw God’s fingerprints etched onto the sky. it was as if we were breathing air for the first time We hide behind our backstreet tongues – pink fleshy things that are too big for mouths, 44

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


and we dance to the chorus of mothers’ cries. Boy, wash your mouth out with soap! Who do you think you are to be wiping your speech across the underside of society? Curling your chattering teeth into our politics? You shake the metal bars of culture and you get a hailstorm, child. We are still running, fast, carving endless circles into the track. I am caught in the wake of your wind. You are a drawing, I believe, a sketch rushed onto maternity ward walls. A rusted violin tucked under cheeks so thin they are sheets of grainy paper. It’s like that time in primary school – you remember? blustery faces blur blue-black, like cold. Grass, tickled bare feet, sun burnt down, smoke through our nostrils. And I could run seven miles straight with my auburn wings ablaze, gulp down chimney air like ginger beer. again this generation is doubled over with stitch. Lord Jesus renew our minds, let us strike the borders of impossibility. But now you pass me by, hand over the car keys coupled with pitiful smile. and as my feet dangle from park swings; their metal chains choking, a baby cries, you sprint, and I convulse to these iridescent stabbings. Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

45


Mukahang Limbu Mother Triptych My mother smokes I mumble to the dish platter, the rice, stuck like mash to the porcelain plate. I hear her behind the door behind the gushing of the water, the lasting traces of curry, crying, weathered. I mumble faster now, gibbets of German cutting the air, punishing, snapping. There is water on my phone. The screen reflects the vastness of space, capturing light, frozen, a paradox of giga-bytes and square roots of infinity, time multiplied by time, database subtracted by life. What are you saying she says, at last, and I tell her that she is the spark on her own cigarette and eventually the toxin will settle. My mother asks me: ‘Am I funny?’ Ma Hassutdo Chu? Am I funny? The phrase is heavier indoors. Dry scented tips of sticks, embed themselves, sit on her tongue.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Don’t I make you laugh? It’s the sound of doubt, like rising oxygen wobbled by heat. I laugh. Funny. In Nepalese, the adjective forces. • In this language, laughter is a void trapped in a change-purse, gold silk and autumnal, cupped in hands like chicken feet. Year-grated hands, worked and rough. In this language, laugh is a non-reflexive verb. My mother screams And that day, something sucked the vapour from my lungs. A shrivelled persimmon. And that day my tongue moved of its own accord, at sixteen beats per minute. And that day, I let fly my white flags, and she opened my flood gates to pity. And that day I heard the plopping sound of a body. I heard the muffled screams. That day I heard her. I heard her, I heard her, I hear her. Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

47


Nancy Harber The Fabric of the Human Body intricacies beyond belief, lay in the very palms of children – as we grow our skin remains eternal and yet, changes – regenerating, around and around the clock the rusty machines that we call our ‘bodies’, secret passages and alleyways of blood and a simple, paperweight skeleton keeps us rooted to our kitchen tiles and, at the centre of it all – an antique – acting as a bass drum to the harmony of our being; pumping us full of life, the life that we despise, and soon you’ll form a part of me – I thought I could feel you in my cells this morning, like a cold that I can’t shake, except, even when a bullet is embedded in my fragile skull, you will live on outside of me.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Vivien Urban I can’t tell I can’t tell if a snowdrop will survive, torn from its womb of soil, I don’t know if the snow angel will melt beside it. Long gone are the days that wore out grandmother’s dress and her lost silk scarf might never be worn again. I look up and see airplanes cross, day by day miles and miles of ocean giving back or taking a life. And I know that the cherry tree in blossom will shake its load, a rain of sweet scent below onto the ground like a light, soothing blanket. And when years from now the remnants of a crown are discovered; the lost piece of our grandmother’s grace will return to the grave and her angel, long stripped from her wings will fly.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

49


Na'Imah Laurent-Dixon Seeds You have to be on both your knees to suck seeds so She kneeled into the concrete, until every boy She meet was Jordan or Nike – She only recognised them by their feet. She stayed down so long, that the stone’s pattern was etched into Her skin Her joints became stiff. So much time passed that She forgot how to stand believed that She was beneath any She could see palms reaching out to draw Her face closer to the zipper which She undoes with Her teeth. Good girls don’t use hands. Now when She walks around hood up facing the ground. All people see is a stomach full of Apple pits. They call Her Eve the Girl who only eats fruit – which serpents are fed with.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


She wonders how She came to this can’t remember where She placed her crown plated in gold and precious stones, that She came there with. Then She remembers, he came there with Her firm hands and soft lips. She did this. Let the unidentified he place his hands on Her head so many times that he walked away with golden palms. Leaving Her with empty arms, tissue and lip balm.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

51


Ellie Whiteside rebirth in cotton rebirth in cotton there were so many fields and all winter all white was moving through them like so many angels and I Saw this field, eclipsed by a gray lolling above. if I could choose where I died I would choose in the winter of this field in the center with the darkened spindles of the trees above veined in January, crowned and fractal, under the cloud-blotted, unmoving, sea-swirl, cottonmouth, blue-patched sky. curl, shaped by the whorls in the grass, tapered and shrinking into the Earth, in a circle and rust into that field, surrounded by birds, everywhere the sharp winter of birds. their cries, small, and chest-piercing, and the blackness of them against the snow-soft, river-split, and vastness of the sky that fills every lung and hollowed cheek, and stream and streambed with air and water and ice. i would crystallize, as the ponds do, as the beads on the blades wrapped to my Skin do, as the flakes in the air do, as the trees do and as they let drop every organ, shrivelled, yet grown with brownness, and ripe with the promise of spring. Very often I stop and look upwards for a long moment. every minute there is

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another tangle, another roll of the ocean that heaves above and rushes among the trees and stays very very still. every crushing of the icelocked soil and the seeds beneath is a song sings of the wideness and sings of everything is open, everything is open, everything is open, everything is dying, sings this is beautiful, sings in March we can start again, sings next year we can start again.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

53


Kara Jackson blood cramps feel like tiny soldiers rupturing your belly in the walls of your womanhood every punch makes your knees curl into the springs of your bed. one night, the men were so wrong to your womb, after masking the floors with blood, you couldn’t walk stooped in the slope of the tile floor. only a Maxi could sweep you up from your place, and your mother’s short arms dragging you to bed. there would be no sleeping that night. you learn that bleeding doesn’t hurt when it drops from beneath you when the upperclassmen makes you bleed without asking, yanks the child from between your legs before you can holler, or moan, or take it back from him. he comes over again and this time he’ll laugh does it count if you bleed? he asks. you won’t laugh. you wouldn’t forget when the boys at school tell you to hurt yourself and you can never say no to those boys according to Molly, the blonde girl from gym class who only talks to your ex boyfriend. she tells you he told her that you were the only girl who wouldn’t tell, or scream, or mind. in the bathroom there is blood in the curve of the sink where the water from the faucet can’t swallow it down the drain, and you make sure your mother doesn’t find out, rubbing it out with Clorox the smell of blood and bleach is foul but so is suicide, and you learn to like blood and bleach better. every boy who ever looked you at for too long makes you bleed. the one with the football jersey, the white one, and even your best friend when he talks about his girlfriend. boys have only learned to snatch and paw until girls are bleeding beneath them. the only time they love you is when you bleed, and you kneel below their feet, beg them to cut you open because love and blood are the same at 15 where the boys look sort of like hyenas in Nike shoes and the girls all look knifed from the legs, and you are just spilling out.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Margot Armbrushes Cardiff your sister heaving into the motel room sink, rusty towel round her waist. tomorrow you will drive to the clinic forty miles away. she’ll be crying in the fading rain, she’ll press her face against the car window. only a mass of cells. swelling like sourdough in a kitchen full of light, like an airbag billowing into Mars’s ferrous sands – cut short, no funeral but a whispered prayer before the operating room, before the antiseptic suffuses her hands so everything she touches smells of desperation. you will drive until you reach the stand where an old man will press budding begonias into her hands, where she will buy carrot seeds and stumble back to the car, where she will realize that she will always be a mother. Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

55


Helena McBurney The Birthday Present On her 16th birthday, they cut out her brain. They said it was diseased – and so they replaced it. A regular brain, assured the doctor, like everyone else. It came the next day, special delivery, in a cardboard box. Inside the box was a jar and inside the jar was a brain. There was nothing inside the brain, but it was the latest model. And so she tried to wear it, although it hurt a bit. Dreaming wasn’t as easy and her thoughts spilled down her dress in a grey sludge. At least she looked like everyone else. After a while, she got used to the brain used to the dull ache of the space where her wishes once lived. Next year, she’s going back to the hospital. They’re going to cut out her heart.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Hannah Siobahn The Way She Loved Her Son Like a good mother, she smoked in the car with the windows down Only exhaled while leaning her head outside Checked her son’s seatbelt twice before even turning the key Stayed up until midnight making Hallowe’en costumes Hid the diagnosis from him by inventing a book club that met twice a week Told him “radiation” is a fancy word for golf lessons Washed his body as if it were the last time she’d ever feel water under her hands Held the soft clean child and did not say a word

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

57


Emily Yin Nosocomephobia Bright too bright hard shafts of light loosed upon frosted glass panes like arrows I close my eyes seek haven in sweet maternal darkness open them and I’m still here in the bowels of this vivid crypt close them again and now I’m in the elevator ping door opens God help me they flood in with their white masks and their white coats pushing a gurney the sheets are white too white is it no is she dead no easy now my palms raw with nail-shaped marks my shirt drenched through with sweat breathe breathe those tiles are a nice shade of peach or amaranth or I swear I have lived and died ten times over I swear my heart is most alive when my knees are breaking down when I am breaking down breathe peach floor breathe think of pink not peach pink like flowers in full bloom crushed blossoms but the bench under the cherry tree outside the hospice where I used to sit in the pink sun

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Gabriella Sills My Grandmother’s Liberation She is silent and numb, too angered to speak yet too embarrassed to cry out, as she knows how many others have already endured far worse suffering. The soldier drags her down the corridor, his firm grasp creating rolls in her skin, but her mind wanders to the irony of this army’s liberation. The door shuts, enclosing their bodies in the musty room filled only by the vague shafts of sunlight. She begins to weep. The Russian falters in his fumbling, she can see how young he is as he turns away into the light, despite this pause she cannot stop her tears. The boy turns back, patting her gently on the head and calming her broken breath. They stand in the dark without talking. He explains, having stayed long enough, his friends will assume he did the same as them. My grandmother watches him leave and now she stands alone.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

59


Abigail Green sunset at high tide junk food and a trip to look at the sea, watch it ebbing, softly, slowly, rubbing its belly across the sand hush, hush, the sound of the waves on the shoreline, creeping over tentacles and toes and whispering as she goes to sleep. the wide-eyed moon rises casting down its silver gaze upon seaweed and sea girls and me

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Finty Hunter Submarine Hearts Hold my hand, you say, hold it tight as we plunge, feet first, tumbling into each other’s submarine hearts. Water smacks my head hard – everything goes dark. I am lying on my back on the seabed, crowned by drops of red. You are holding my hand like rope around my fingers. I am anchored to the surface. You crawl up to gasp for air and find it sweeter than the damp undergrowth where my soul has come to rest. Fingers still clasped tight, I choke on time. I look around, see that the shells that were once pretty and the shoals of fish that were a wonder are now bones: ribs and skulls and remains of the old. I have found myself in a graveyard. In your submarine heart I am choking on the suffocating debris of how your lips touched mine and sent volts like bolts of lightening from the shore to the deep. And of how your fingers ran through my hair and I could hear your heartbeat. I can still hear your heartbeat as you let go of my hand and I am drowning in what once was and what no longer is. I hold onto the sand I let it flow through my fingertips and once again I am left empty.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

61


Ezekiel Wallis Hysterectomy I decided to kill my children Slowly, and with misery of forethought I am putting them to sleep And every day I shake like a beaten dog And every night, I grow still Dread mounting to a towering wave I dream between the fitful tides I dream that my body isn’t broken – That I was never forced to mark myself a mistake To wish the life my parents wanted for me, diagnosed away and Away with my hormones Away with my womb Away with my children The children I will never have Away with their clammy little fists That pull my hair and poke my cheek And close around my throat every time I see a strangers baby Deaf to my apologies, because they can never understand that I had no choice It was me, or you, my darling It’s dog eat shivering dog But I swear, I am a reluctant Cronus You do not give me strength You are the violent weight of death, carried in my stomach In five years you will grow rotten and cancerous and I will cut you out, even though I’m already so unbearably hollow

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Part of me will wish you’d survived by ancient magic But you will just be cold, collateral meat You are a poisoned gamete But please, know this: So was I.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

63


Elizabeth Walmsley Alzheimer’s She knows who I am But she doesn’t know herself The glassed over eyes Of memory’s so vague The simple life of sitting As her body breaks Remembering times of joy Hating this time of wait I see her talk to people Yet she looks so alone To stop all the pain inside Her memories she disowns Even though she is living I cannot disagree That she is not all here And is dying in front of me

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Davina Jandu hair the most beautiful thing about a man is his hair. when he keeps it high upon his head, then ties a crown of a different colour in front of the sunrise. he creates a temple, then baths it in cloth. when hair covers his thick, tree trunk arms, like tiny flowers upon something so strong and it reminds him that grace isn’t always holding a door open for a woman. it is letting her open it herself. when it grows from the rose of his cheeks, like vines covering a sea cliff. it is beautiful and his daughter won’t ever forget the soft tickle left on her cheeks after each kiss.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

65


Hannah Tankaria I Do Not Put the Pro in Procrastination Procrastinate, And it’s too late. Don’t hand in homework, Receive the teacher’s hate. I could blame it on my mate, Then they won’t think I’m great. In pure terror I start to quicken my gait To hand in the formulae of copper and iron sulphate. The deadline is at nine and it’s currently fifty seven past eight. Hurry now, chemistry teachers are not people you want to frustrate. They have a vast supply of substances, including many a toxic nitrate. Why don’t they understand that I had to check out the new social media update? I begin pleading the Grim Reaper and Fate: Make today not my dying date, Please, wait. Following that, I hurriedly write a balanced debate Whilst trying to mitigate my rapidly increasing heart rate. When it’s done, I deflate. For I have caught sight of my maths homework, two weeks late. Shoot. My mind trembles. To what does this equate? 3? Never mind, it’s a close enough estimate. It is imperative that I hydrate. As evaporation through sweat has surely extracted half my body weight.

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I breathe in steadily, willing the oxygenated blood to circulate Through my brain and generate The stages of how a seed begins to germinate. Next, it is time to conjugate. The mere thought is enough to nauseate Even the hardiest, most resilient shipmate. Time for English, and I must speculate On the astounding, remarkable and stupendous techniques used in melodrama, but I exaggerate. Oh, how will I graduate! I will soon disintegrate! I’m practically failure incarnate! I do believe that I am starting to asphyxiate! However, this is not a productive mental state. So calmly I analyse and evaluate Until I have an essay that is adequate. Unfortunately, time management is not my strongest trait And I would feel bad if I blamed my tardiness on my mate So I had to receive the teacher’s hate For the time is now far too late All because I procrastinate.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

67


Chloe Clarke Weight I hold your hands on my wrist like bracelets, no, shackles. You are zipped up in my backpack, venom from your tongue is spilt carelessly at the bottom, leaking through the punctures, patch-worked to try to hold our fabrics together. Bruised, from the heavy boulder of your chest, my spine creaks for relief, to unstitch the rucksack from skin, but your arms; the straps are unforgiving, pushing me down, hands; crushing oxygen. This weight is suffocating. I drag your shoulder blades behind me, they were too sharp for my skin, like teeth biting into ribs, broken piano keys, tearing through flesh, pulling me apart.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Do you carry me? Do you hold my grave-stone in your stomach? Have you tried to digest it? Break it down… Attack it with enzymes? Do you bite back my name? When your brain pulls it from the recesses of ‘Should not think about again.’ I am the rubble of a woman, decrepit, fatigued by your burden. I’m trying to get away, ahead, to move forward, but you fill every suitcase I own. I wonder, is this what they meant by baggage?

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

69


Ava Witonsky A Letter From Queen Amytis I am done being the Moon, cold and cracked by craters, spinning a millennia just to say I reflected your light. I do not think your Gardens are a wonder; for you are the one who unrooted me from Medes and stuck me in the dirt in the name of my happiness.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Ava Rowan Harker Sexualise me Sexualise me. Paint me in a bikini, because that’s okay. Nylon makes it alright. Sexualise me. Punish my chest, my thighs, my thigh gap, my arse, with compliments. Condemn my cellulite. Sexualise me in year seven, on the bus, eating a banana. Running by the canal as you float past; obviously drunk and apparently horny. Sexualise me. Because I want you to. If I don’t then I’m obviously bleeding and apparently hormonal.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

71


Annabelle Crowe These Things Often Happen after Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai There are bandits in these hills, around this village, hiding, nested in the blurred trees of our hunched and steaming greenwood. Mountains bristle strangely like the backs of sleeping dogs. In the morning before battle, under the black-andwhite awnings of rain-fingered roofs, I am the girl with hacked-off hair. The samurai won’t look at me, except one – I caught that one, pretty hands dipped in white blossom. We used to bury our sweet fear in safer hillsides, watching spruces comb shy clouds. Our town is mapped, its pressure points charted, its inroads guarded, spiked. We are invulnerable. We know how many muskets they have, but sometimes I find I’ve been here for weeks, standing on the rim of battle, leaning, digging my toes in. Asking things like, “Won’t they come down?” Mountains like a herd of mute horrors. I’m ankle deep, watching the hills and sky reflected in the fields. Submerged clouds, sour morning spilled over my feet. Cowards will miss the harvest.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Kids beg the samurai for white rice. The lintel of our doorway soaks up spring rain. Do those raiders think they can subsist on nothing but clear air, blue altitude, thin ghosts of moisture hanging over valleys? Maybe they hate war as much as samurai, who sometimes prefer love. They leave me in the altar of my father’s barn, itching with new hay, consuming sake meant to be shared – a fermented star. Both armies refuse to invade my sleep.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

73


Eira Murphy The Hospital Tree I climbed to the top of the tree again last night, under branches that allow only moonlight’s pewter fingers. They leave feathers of brown silk, threaded with constellations. I turn my head in the direction of birds, owls and nightingales feathering their nests on top of my wardrobe, their pink balding heads cocked in a question I cannot answer. I sew star feathers to my headdress, wind it tightly round my head. I have nothing to grasp but naked skin, blue medicine bottles that cover my body, pressing, marking. There is no needle that can inject the lightness I need, though the Nurse, with her hospital corners smile, disagrees.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


I feed them yards of pink worms, slide them down their throats like string. They gulp and I tell them we will fly together, until we reach the starlings, the stars. My heart is half-feathered, half hollow. I am losing myself to birds, their songs. And they are pushing me further and further towards the edge of the branches, and then the vacant night.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

75


Alex Greenberg Prelude You wish your sister into the field of your parents’ old farmhouse. December is a seam of tinged lace, the color of lullaby. You fetch a bucket from the shed and fill it with water – exhume the bath salts & gauze from underneath a bed of black croci. Your sister is naked by the cows, her small breasts hanging limply. The nose ring you pierced for her yourself when you were kids. The stars faithful to the moment you pour water over her zodiac hair & scrub until your knuckles swell red as moonlight. The way a mother would do it: one hand on the soft of her cheek,

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the other believing the body out of itself. Stone-silver. An exodus in dark plumage. Later that night, your sister slits the pockets of her jeans if only to hold everything in her hands at once: the dirt, rich with oil beetles, the shotgun roll of dimes, the trigger, so easy to forfeit. She cannot stay long. Parts of her are already turning to feather. The ground where you washed her opens its mouth and you dive in.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

77


Lyra Davies The Prenderghasts We are the Prenderghasts. We live in apartment 32. We are monsters; We are renegades, Retrograde; Detrimental to society. We are Vertical sleepers; Horizontal runners; We sunbathe In the rain. We are porcelain: Perfect, Broken. We lick ice-creams In December. We are day-sleepers, Night-creepers, Dream-weavers. We are pure, Pristine; The ghosts of angels Who fell from Heaven.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


We are wicked, Charred; Mangled antiquities Lost to raging fires. Entwined in words, We live in books (Our refuge From reality): Runes scrawl Down our arms In blood. Stealing fragments of Shattered sunset, We dance across Purple-streaked skies. We are Eternal; We hide From the light. Soundless, we scream; Tearless, we cry. We are volatile: Catalysts For a cataclysm. We are unstable: Explosive Like nitro-glycerine.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

79


Poetry rolls From our tongues, Spilling From our souls. At midnight We wander Darkened corridors, Navigating our way In half-consciousness Along the ceiling. The rooftops serve As our playground; We waltz among Chimneys At full moon. We are the Prenderghasts. We are scared of the light. We see best in the dark. We have never known Love Or joy Or misery. You stare Because we are different. We stare Because you’re all the same.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Georgia Macfarlane Marble Men Statues Lack fickle cares Just statues With steely glares Sculpted cheekbones A living dud Marble flesh And stagnant blood Grasping hands Which seldom flinch Chalky fingers Insubstantial plinth Pawns of human Gods Inflated with empty pride Captive to cruel time Elevated sculptors died Statues Purely chips and grooves Just statues But stone eyes shouldn’t move.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

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Maria Calinescu Orion walks me through an amour fou First I should buy constellations for my nights, never before having seen Orion pass out quite so closely. He films your lying head in my arms, My man slumbers south to show he’s not mine. I am a chewing-gum parody of myself that never gets paid, For lugubrious red-felt-tip letters by antiseptic half-men. We grew together like nettles, softly drip through our viscous arcade. I stare blankly at your God-given laughs, Dripping dark chocolate like hot summer sweat I am a half-born blancmange. She’s my candyfloss friend. I eat you pinkly as a cat His gelatinous sobs are for an omen garden I know I wish I could donate more. Paroxysms on the metro, shoulder-lying on each other’s overdrafted heads. B is drawing on his face in blue Freudian crayon I thwart my own intention via primary-red t-shirts and unisex socks, spray-painted, oiled down in the cloudy breathing of an art-gallery stranger. Stop being so ominous, macabre, you know we’re on one side. Cute pre-drinks things–we could, you know, if we wanted. But I swear you’re not meant to love your reflection so widely so soon Especially not on such a ‘we can dream(catcher)’ type of night

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


The lost water is a white tattoo of milky moonblood; I’m part alright, you can hide in me. Oh you first, we dance with condescending looks. Everyone done wants to shout lucky things into me. I wish I could find them, watch the bike people pawn the numbered bikes that no one buys on my way to school I’ve been avoiding it on purpose A litany of exam dates. The salmon-gold ring we palm around, fake-sleeping under rusty night-clouds For years asking why the seagulls sing here And I miss you blankly, how you can only forget a stranger Dealing out long words–perspicacious–like plastic flowers The quad-sky alien dot is our aporia (But I’ll believe it for you).

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

83


Lucy Olson Lard Instead of chocolates or wine, I will give you an egg, divine, With pure white and yolk so complete, Boil, fry or scramble to eat. Instead of roses or a card, I will give you a block of lard To fry your egg until content: Please enjoy these gifts before Lent.

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Matthew Birch A butterfly The shimmering wings Beat rapidly, As the sound of the war drum Beats, As the men with bayonets Charge mindlessly through the mud. The shimmering wings quiver, Then fall.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

85


Margaret Zhang The Difference Between Giraffes and Tarantulas A boy wakes to a thrashing in the ceiling tiles. Maybe it’s a large tarantula. He tiptoes into the hallway, scrambles up the attic ladder, and pries open the latch. The attic smells of scorched dust, is dark in a way that makes him feel like he is shrinking. He tries to squeeze in, but the width of his shoulders pushes him back. He stops trying and peers in with his newly adjusted eyes. Inside, he sees hooves kicking at the walls, hooves and brown splotches and a long, long neck. The boy knows what she is. Do you need help? he asks the giraffe. Do you want to get out? Her legs stop flailing. He grasps the giraffe’s leg and tugs, but the giraffe does not budge. He tugs harder, and when that doesn’t work, grips her leg with both hands and yanks. The giraffe kicks him in the forearm, starts thrashing again. He climbs down the ladder and heads for his mother’s bedroom, even though he knows it won’t be what he wants. She is breathing heavily and muttering in her sleep. He hears something like his name in her muttering, but he can’t be sure. Maybe she is having a nightmare. Maybe it’s about a giraffe in the attic. He nudges her in the ribs and, when she doesn’t wake up, thumps her on the forearm. She jolts with a cry. It’s me, he whispers. She rubs her eyes and doesn’t look at him. What, monsters under your bed again?

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The boy interlocks his fingers before he answers. No, but there is a giraffe in the attic who needs help. The mother’s eyes turn into tarantulas, not because she believes him, but because she never has.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

87


Louisa Saddler The Figurative Café I once went to the figurative café Where I ordered chicken for you As I was saving your bacon before They gave you a knuckle sandwich In a way I felt sorry for you as The chips are down in your corner And you had gone bananas over smelling like hot cakes and Because I didn’t want to be your eye candy Now it’s time for you to take the biscuit With coffee of course As you were in a pickle over a pinch of salt And your bread and butter As we began to leave the figurative café I ordered you a small beer As you were angry about your split milk And you would’ve felt guilty over ordering the last of the summer wine But you need to remember this; When life gives you lemons, make lemonade Before you run out of juice

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Grant Kim How to Swallow a Breakup I swallowed stagnant water, so mosquito eggs incubated by the warmth of my stomach lining. Larvae sprouted wings, and as they grew, I bit my tongue to draw blood. Shared my body with them. They tickled me with their fluttering. Lifted me up, so I could fly. I swallowed bleach. It waged war with my stomach acid. So when I opened my mouth, those around me could hear the sizzling of a hot pan tossed into a running sink. I did some jumping jacks to froth the mixture inside me. Then belched out bubbles, which made my baby cousin laugh. Then I swallowed you, my dear. You gave me a stomachache.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

89


Harriet Harding The Tale Of Verity Chalker Verity Chalker, aged fifteen, saw sights a child should never have seen. Her father claimed to love her mother but in his heart he loved another. Verity caught her mother alone, crying to Aunt Sally down the phone: “He’s screwed her Sal, I want him punished” and suddenly Verity’s dad had vanished. He disappeared without a trace but there were no tears on Verity’s face. She tied her ribbon into her hair and continued life without a care. Out in the barn is where he lay, his corpse degrading day after day, six knife wounds were found in his back but who could have caused such a vicious attack? Her mother was questioned, each one in the book but the policemen never thought to look at Verity’s Wellingtons caked with mud, the toes of which were dotted with blood.

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Three days later, a funeral in the rain, her mother’s heart broke with the pain of losing her husband whom she held so dear and suddenly Verity said so clear: “It was me, I did it, the Voices, They lied. They said he deserved it, the bastard should die.” Her mother was shocked, completely unaware and the people ‘round the grave at Verity did stare. Off she went to Bethlem, home of the insane, and she would never see the outside world again. Her mother visited but all she did was cry, tell Verity she loved her and waved her goodbye. The thorazine had burnt her veins, robbed her of voice and fried her brain. Verity Chalker, aged fifteen, went places a child should never have been.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

91


Cara Nicholson Getting a Shock It’s the face of your father, like a man mustn’t look. It’s the drop of your guess, to the sudden checkmate. It’s the punch to the stomach, bent over bowled out. It’s the metal mouth of blood, balled up spitting red. It’s the liquor licked lips, sticky sweet putrid scent.

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It’s the reel as you curse, the day of your birth. It’s the rise of his answer – but only by a notch.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

93


Lucy Tiller accompanist i. smelling of aftershave he came to play the piano in our house and a trace of him lingers still. sticky smell of frying, and his car is soap and mints. i wonder from the passenger seat whether you are lonely yet after all those years of just you? he thinks my brain is full of nothing and bad puns as he drives me to stratford-upon-avon. we inflate a pinprick of conversation to an hour and a half. afterwards, over cake he says he had to stretch some crotchets a bit. are you okay for a lift home? and among the coffee fumes i thank god my brain is full of nothing, not no-one. ii. Three years at the Royal College, and now I play for small boys who can’t reach their fingers into fifth position and teenage girls full of hot air who can’t count to three. And I am counting the crotchets. She is counting the minutes till she can go home and watch TV or prod at the screen of her phone. She smudges another beat. A short, forced laugh from the back of my throat.

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She smells of grapefruit, sharp and bright pink, piercing the minted dome of my car, and I drive her and I play behind her, a black shirt and black trousers and black shoes – Part of the backdrop. At home I sit in a back room, make dinner, watch them finish it, as they forget it was made at all. The days and the girls and the boys blur, but each beat cuts.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

95


Jolina Bradley Mid Air The adagio was soft pecks on cheeks, sad ointment, A tender brush of keys, semi-stoccata, like firing a gun with wet gunpowder, or lighting old candles, I guess you could call it raw. Beautiful. The ballerina creaked as she turned ohso(hush on the stage) soft, (pitter-patter) the stroke of a finger on a kitten’s ear. Can you imagine such slender hands? Nails clipped to imperfection, gracefully carrying the burden of touch, the contact between the instigator and listener. She is a swan in mid-air. We are held in the juxtaposition of her flight. You have to be strong to be delicate, to hold such loose matters in place. Glass is not fragile at all.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Louise Chapman Post-it notes I call her Miss Memory, a dithery creature by name She'll forget to close her door And lose the way she came She'll tidy her home And straighten a frame Then leave post it notes It's part of her game The different colours across the walls Strung up by thoughts In her queer penmanship with wicked memories stuffed into pots Raking in her drawers For the most important possessions Digging right to the bottom Finding her oldest obsessions Her house is always dusty Things are always misplaced There's something in the closet That she'll forget in her haste When I'm old she might depart Travel the world on tarnished boats Or she might settle down And scatter more Post-it notes

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

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Aidan Forster Boy with a Basket of Fruit after Caravaggio Remember the day the artist took you into the field: the small fist of your body hard and bright, the white lake of the tunic he bade you enter naked and restless. Remember how you undressed the trees, clutched peaches in your hand like small orange hearts. How your body was wild with leg and grape, so easy to split and eat. Remember the grass you tore from the earth, the roots you knotted like rings over your fingers, what was and was not painted. He loved you this way:

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finger on the blossom of your lip. Finger in the hook of your open mouth. Your body was a prop he made out of berries and blood: something to plant until it greened, something he named good boy and yes, do this with your face. Remember: like a good mouth, the field took what it was fed.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

99


Will Adams Eden’s Ashes after Paul Farley Forget all of that two-thousand-years-ago there-was-a-man stuff. Picture a dust-rich chapel in the neighbourhood. Start from its yellow-page scents and slide a coloured glass over the window to change the light, then go as far as you want: the rusting cross, the Bible-drawer, the cracked and faded pew. Now, bring it down. In the kind of fire that singes God’s omniscient whiskers. That crudens his robes with soot, blackens his toenails in their sandled shrine. That takes Man up in his hot-air balloon, up to Eden’s ashes. Now look around at His glorious paradise, at the ruins from your seven-day fire.

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Rhiannon Williams August for James Schuyler Wet footprints by the pool. No clouds no obligations. Wasps will come: they too want this peach. The book is good. It never dips below 30. Rosé clouds the brain and wasps drink from the full pool. Lilac evening cumulus. Colour extracts the evening’s poison. Your mouth wet with peach juice. The month dips below an ocean.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

101


Ruby Crook-English Heat the whirring of a half-dead fan cuts through the ambient silence, like some fragile heart bringing life into the stillness. the house is empty and quiet, pondering. the smell of sunscreen and gasoline pollutes the hot, thick air. the lonely drip of a far off drop echoes in the house. the sky is blue. the taste of some store-bought ice cream lingers on my lips. the heat pounds through the window frames. all the windows are open, and the curtains drawn back, to expose the wide, open street. the smell of tarmac drifts lazily through the open window. distant voices clamour in succession. the tangled sheets on my bed accuse some restless night. there’s a pause, and the voice of the tv presenter slips through the silence. there’s a distant whine of a car engine, but that fades.

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the promise of a breeze wails through the window, but even that fades. all that’s left is the whirring of the broken fan, and the endless, endless, heat.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

103


Rumaisa Zubairi Ink My paper cup is filled with night, The newsprint bowl with anaemic tar. My tapering candle burns, like a pen, Under the gaze of the waning moon. I drank the ink and it was sticky and sweet, Not unlike syrupy rain, or last summer’s Forgotten blackberry cordial. But there’s a shade of ferric bitterness, a gall That lingers on my braced teeth, pointed like a vampire’s, And like the silvered nib of my grandfather's fountain pen – Do not touch. That night I dreamt of poetry so thick it dripped from the sky And typewriters, Of my mother’s leather-bound diaries, and Oblivion, so deep, so dark, like obsidian, Like ink. The next day, I tried the Cheap, pixelated thrill of printer cartridge: Cyan, magenta, yellow, key. The ichorous fluid dripped from my fingers In a nauseating kaleidoscope of artificial colour And manufactured emotion. Yet I drank.

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Elisabeth Ololade Ajayi Bilingualism You twisted your tongue into an origami of unspoken words You said your silence was better than their mocking laughter, so you sealed your lips as the envelope of a secret letter, closing the door to specialities of other worlds. From your mouth your accent was wiped out, like the toys from the room of a growing child. You decided to hide forever r’s that made the air vibrate in a new way, s’s soft as the sand near the coast land, sounds coming from the sunny islands and languages originating from the remotest cultures. All this you threw away to talk in the same manner as people whose words sound just… plain.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

105


Rachel Herring Driftwood “The true witnesses, those in possession of the unspeakable truth, are the drowned, the dead, the disappeared.” – Primo Levi We speak with voices like salt on the rocks, whispering of wounds and secrets soft as pebbles. On the ocean floor, we lie shipwrecked by history and enshrouded in weed and stone beneath fickle tides of stars and shrapnel. We listen from behind granite cliffs and walls of sea mist. Like fine sand or feathers cast away by hawks and mournful gulls we settle on dunes and seats of chalk, waiting to hear a love song, a dusk-clad violin, bittersweet poetry and tales from beyond sun-soaked skies, that we might drown the echoes of our own tales, which pinch our cheeks like stinging sea-glass in midnight caves of memory.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


We drift: anchorless boats on the horizon, sleeping in coves of shingle and shadow and screes. With bated breath, we are waves about to break, as we wait for the wind to fill our sails and carry our weathered bones like driftwood into shore.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

107


Ella Standage firefly we meet while you’re a lightning bug. pinprick bright against the asphalt, current cascading through a single LED in the no-man’s land of wires, resistors, quick-set concrete. aether. a heat-shimmer distilled and with words poised – and for what? oblivion, crackling eternity. i want to memorise your fingerprints until they burn like phosphenes behind my eyes. catch the cordite hiss of sparklers and concentrate it, the constancy scorching through my cranial plates and clutching around the wildfire in my head – but this is not a controlled burn, despite the way your words ignite. syntax bubbling itself apart. react and reassemble, the stanzas shine sun-spun in three-four time while you manipulate the music to fold around my spine between the lines. an ember of a firefly is not an arsonist. yet so easily you nudge the mind aslant, candlelight combustion simply the inescapable conclusion. the commas coalesce into sparks of flashing thought. eat enough matches and it becomes inevitable: and you’re a hearthfire and i’m burning up.

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


Helen Woods Things worth knowing It might be worth knowing the speed of the wind over the rooftops but better to know the words it whispers in the ears of the houses – our ears have long un-trained themselves to hear. It might be worth knowing how many long miles to the ocean floor but better to know what goes on behind the unseeing eyes of fish what it is like to swim blind. It might be worth knowing the discovery of electricity but better to know the crackling images on a TV screen and where they go afterwards. Do they carry on existing, in parallel with ourselves ghosts acting out a life in pixels or do they cease to be altogether? Am I sitting alongside a phantom as I speak – a body made of colours pressed like a flower into the glass screen of the atmosphere. Do they watch us? Flesh and blood merging with light. They do not bring these questions up in school.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

109


Nikita Bastin An Education A bowl of noodles laced with worms taught my mother the length of hunger. Taking shits in a field that smells like shit taught her that poverty burdens all the senses. The nuns in rosette saris, mothers to her and sixty boarding school girls, taught her how to feel unwanted in silence. A boy with a mustache sweeping in a narrow line across his upper lip, a lesson in the beauty of belonging. The wedding ring pressing into her finger like the silvered glow that circles the moon became the weather of peace. The feet hiding underneath her bellybutton taught her that parents could be a home. After her miscarriage, she finally understood exhaustion, the power to be too tired to cry for your child. The midwife taught her that her child could be taken a second time when he was burned instead of buried, so he couldn’t be stolen for an elaborate ritual.

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Seeing a flushed baby smile into his hands: grief is everywhere. My father’s hopeful eyes over a contract were lessons in architecture, her dreams building a house in San Francisco. 150 dollars buried in his pockets in five dollar bills taught her that thrift is a universal language. Their first night, she turned to the margins of the bed, teaching America the sound of her tears as my father pretended to sleep.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

111


Aileen Tierney Testaments of the Candy Shop Sales Associate i. The middle aged mother of four asks to see the manager. You try to explain to her that he is omnipresent at all 47 store locations. Job cuts, you explain. Astral projection, you explain. The manager is simultaneously in and out. She doesn’t understand. They never understand. ii. “Do you guys sell chocolate?” an old man asks as the cold wind of senility gusts through the door behind him. It frosts the tips of your arm hair white. You notice, startled, that the store had suddenly changed into a used car dealership without you ever noticing. iii. “Jason Derulo’s entire discography plays in a loop nonstop over the intercom. Corporate put out a notice: because of no one showing up to his concerts, Patron Derulo was paying retails lavishly

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to help spread his musical pursuits. Employees wearing earplugs is strictly prohibited and will result in immediate dismissal. iv. The species of stuffed animals continue to grow more obscure the farther back in the shop you get. A shipment of Cryptoprocta ferox just came in. v. “Jacob! How could you!” the shocked and appalled mother yells at her toddler who had just stuck his hand In the eyelevel bin of gummi frogs; livid as if she had birthed a war criminal. It was an unforeseen tragedy that a child would host poor impulse control and touched things that were accessible to him. It was an unforeseen tragedy, and the mothers never cease to stand aghast by their child’s sociopathic tendencies.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

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vi. It is the fourth time that day someone asked you where the bags were. You doubletake, and realize the large neonorange letters spelling B A G S had accidentally reverted back to Mandarin Chinese. vii. Your coworker waits for you at the front of the shop, introspective as gazing out to sea. He dreams of his lunch break softly across the sound as you part the waves of traffic, journeying your way to work. viii. The tongues of employees who eat the gourmet candy while restocking are nailed to the storage cabinet.

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ix. Harpyteenager hybrids circle the mall. They fly into the window, swept away by the rush of adrenaline stemming from shoplifting attempts. Your coworker grumbles something about smudged glass, and reaches her hand for the Windex. x. The jellybean levers have now been programmed to automatically pull itself and spill all over the floor just so the customers don’t have to do it themselves.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

115


Lily Zhou Confession with Salted Salmon and Dried Lemons I was a fish before anything else. They wove myths about me, how I spat fishbones before I learned to talk, how I held a finger to the candle until it turned faucet. My first words were made of bone and grit, caught my mother like a hook through the lip. In the kitchen, my sister teaches me to touch mouths with everything that is made of water. It begins with the smooth of my shin mingling with the spit of my sister, ends with a gray exhale held up to light. Let the beginning of every limb slink into cradle like something worthy of prayer. Let my mother kneel before the oven, one leg dripping with saltwater, the other skinned and pickled like the underbelly of a doe. Listen. My name slips into the mouth of every sleeping infant. Listen. The river knows nothing of burial,

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nothing of spreading the milk over the body until everything stinks of fruit. The milk that was my mother, that was her child, that now splits open like a blued fever, like a throat that was never mine to keep.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

117


Freya Gray Stone Bedside Traveller My Mother’s old red water bottle stands beside my bed. Red shell chipped, silver scale beneath, One from falling out the car in Ethiopia, Another from the ice of Alaska. The bottom dented by Mongol horses, A shoulder bruised by Madagascan jungle, Gritty with Saharan sand. Swiss made. SIGG. Cool metal in thirsty hands – Winter still frozen between its metal skins. A bedside glacial lake, smooth, serene, Clear. Deep gulps of midnight cold spilt And dried on my sheets. Gob-stoppered And screwed, a lid like the hollow pebbles you find on the beach For necklaces – a finger loop – A ruby ring for the thirsty. A bottle better travelled than me. Things seen like a child from the mesh pocket Of a rucksack. The happy water dialogue As it climbs a mountain or hits a pothole on Indonesian road. The quest for puma paw prints between the Patagonian heather. The frigid kiss on my Mother’s frostbitten fingers.

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I doubt I will see what it has seen – That dented, bashed-up old thing – bearing the scrapes of my Mother’s life, The fingerprint craters in its armour. A lonely heirloom gazing sadly at the world map on my desk, Dully reflecting the lamplight beside the notebooks and Vaseline. A fish that feels the call of the sea. Yet now, sentinel, Wait by my pillow, Beneath the mobile of faces that winds and twists softly In the unhealthy yellow-tooth glow, And you will see the wilderness again. It’s heavy arctic in my hands – The water I drink tastes like earth.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

119


Deryn Andrews Sunlight Through An Open Window Still, against the half-opened window Through the space there’s a breeze and through the glass, a heat. Like summer back home: Heat set about in drifts, shade-scattered, tangible – just – and butted by breaths of wind, in short bursts. Like breathing up against the window pane, or smeared lenses To wipe away the fug and the grunge – And if you press up against the glass, shoulder to dimly reflected shoulder, you can still feel the warmth, its aftermath, but faintly Like it’s set too far into the glass. So you sit with your arm against the pane – to the pane – And turn, lean, so the side of your face touches And your breath circles, caught between window and cheek to trace softened skin; slight, soft down And just in that small space, everything is warm, wan And softly drowsy.

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Isabelle Tod Car Boot Sale We boxed up my childhood and sold it. 3 for a pound. Covers of books resembled the crumpled skin of the age I felt. Corners still turned down where the night got too heavy Or where something better came along. The Lego didn’t quite fit right. Houses built from these bricks would undoubtedly meet their demise From the huffs and the puffs of the Big Bad Wolf. We boxed up my childhood and sold it. It made me a little sad.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

121


Jocelyn Blood I don’t know about tragedy I don’t know about tragedy. I’ve never seen a man die in the clutches of one flowered flaw or felt fate’s seething grip at my throat, I’ve never been so starved of sorrow that my skeleton sung or the whites of my bones were aglow; I know only of minute deaths. In a clasp of seeds or stars or cells, where words are trapped like silvered moths in jars and daughters jade at the seams in their sleep. I know of butterflies whose wings turned to ash and milk-teeth that never came loose. I know of grief. How it comes like wildflowers in the spring and unfurls like a child. How the petals pile-up as poisons and pangs and prints on the stone of the heart: a smother borne of the self. A fossil-breathe, a brittlebirth, a bell chiming backwards in a dream. How the wound ripples beneath the skin but the surface remains still. I don’t know about tragedy, but I know of the feathers that fell from a wing too soon. I know of those who disappear when the room plumes with smoke, who hush the flame before it has a chance to flicker, who curlin and cast themselves in amber;

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I know of bruises pushed under the skin, diamonds steeped in silt and poppies, only picked to be pressed. I don’t know about tragedy, but I know what remains when the blood dries up.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

123


Emma Choi Make it to the Moon for Margaret Hamilton I had forgotten about block parties; space is far from suburbia. James jostles with the beer-bellied men by the grill; I am trapped amongst the trivial twitterings of Trixies and Nancys. The children trace circles around the cul-de-sac but my daughter is stationary, etching stars into our driveway. She wants to be someone when she grows up, important, she says. I am afraid to name the price of persistence – the men who greet you with a wink and a where have you been, sweetheart? The rocket fire you feel flaming in your chest, fueling you to stay the extra hour – write the extra line. I have bartered ballet recitals for physics briefings. I have deciphered the galaxy in 1s and 0s but I cannot differentiate a colander from a crockpot. I attempt to exist in this world of linoleum tiles and petunia-lined paths but I have been marked as a nemesis of normalcy; the pavement is marked with

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the craters of the moon and I am hurtled back into celestial company. When my daughter asks me why I am away even when I am home I tell her mommy is trying to make it to the moon. She understands enough that she does not question when my fingers are so cramped that I cannot brush her hair without only complicating the chaos. Newton’s third law is in action; every meter I thrust towards James he drifts away. The bedroom is a vacuum; the pressure is calamitous. I proclaim it over and over – just need to make it to the moon – but the truth is I have already made it. My mind has been held hostage since I penned the first digit. The challenge is getting home— staying.

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

125


Hannah Hall Absence The stairs creak as a pair of old green slippers walks down each slat of nailed wood. A plaid robe stumbles into the kitchen and sits down at a four-person table. The coffee pot talks to itself, smoke curling out like a sigh. A circle of chairs stare at the newspaper open on the table. Outside on the front stoop, a pair of black rainboots look out from lidded eyes. A cane leans over, watching the pouring rain. The old coats, hard of hearing, chatter in the closet. The door knob is worn down with your touch. Your footsteps leave their mark all over this house.

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Clarisse Wibault The Festive Feast The hall was large, the windows vast, Tapestries hung with battles of the past. And on the wooden table lay the feast, Of bursting pork pastries, with butter greased, Of chicken pie, of pheasant and of lamb, Of French cheeses and of Italian ham The room smelt of herbs, and pricey spices The fresh, warm breads, lay, cut into slices, All served with spreads that were divine, And with golden glasses of the finest wine And finally came the sweet after-bites, Custards and meringues of the purest whites, Creamy lemon tarts and chocolate cakes, Dainty gateaux sprinkled with almond flakes. Of course there were also luscious fruits, Come from Africa on the longest routes. Though the plates were laden, filled to the brim, The candles were burnt, the fire was dim. Everyone had left, yet little was dined. So much that had been left behind. So many stains on the once crisp attire, The feast, now over, was left to retire. The hall, once full of joy and of laughter, Now forgotten and barely looked after, Lay in the midst of the on-going night, Waiting for future feasts to bring it the light.

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Enyu (Vivien) Lin Voyage of the World Abscond with me off to Bayonne with me full running etherized by Neapolitan skies needle point howls sawdust underfoot and coffee before breakneck bottles and scalding midnight rain then quiet smiles by a feathered ringed pond the Earth hums we listen Farmer Oak eyes his dented hay as we ride unladylike away funny feels like running away then breakfast with Kilgore drinks with Rosewater we pay with a blessing and so on... Say we run out of road and plunder our Bodleian for more whip up hysteria on treacherous waves comb the bleached down of tides make jagged our nails on saltwater sails 128

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016


We wash up like plastic knowing nothing of hollow but sure of this day on ice a slice of lime we tip like royalty decked in string flecked in ink made bright by ocean jewels Then offer to walk me home I’ll offer to make it yours we dawdle in champagne bubbles a pearl in you palm when the glitter fades you make a joke and strain my lungs to laughing point No need to hurry the world isn’t empty don’t mind the birds this feather bouquet liquid soft sky no need to hurry it’s warm where we are

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Megan Freeman Turnips Your naked torso turned, like a shrivelled turnip, over hit the bathtub like you were an instrument being played well seasoned, gently I flannelled you up and down like a search warrant, patted you like an envelope sealing up cuts like an edge you hide under layers of soil. Fed you conversations in spoonfuls, cleaned around your swollen lips with a tea towel from the kitchen side. Mourned days when you didn’t sterilize your tears like bruises I see disappear when you ask them to leave Staying you see requires stubbornness. As I clutch my shovel and uproot you, for a moment to drown your aging face amongst the clouds rising see your features collapses, with shortbread walls crumbling against the turnip patch, thinking Turnips, you see, are of limited intelligence Learnt it from their mothers as their skin thins from the beatings of winters, As I stand unearthing them with fingers turn to see your body calling homebound for his face and the bathroom.

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Rachel Poels I am the rock I remember my father, Sea His tangles of slippery kelp hair His gentle, rhythmic hands, carrying me and my brothers Holding his wolves, his blue-grey crashing waves, howling as they hit the surface: eddies of foam in their open jaws He embraced us in arms of salt and spray But he was too apart, too different from us lowly invertebrates The silt speckled seabed is yours now, but mine still: I lay there in what is now your beach: I died I was a brick Sea smoothed sediment over our dead bodies, his mortar His cold hands caressing us with an icy current Preserving us, encasing us In a tomb of limestone, shellstone That now forms your castles Our graveyard of stone Shell-caked battlements Battered by your enemies and wind and rain They loosened me like a plug from the rock

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Even you follow a somewhat medieval line of thinking Your furrows of sand, drawings Of sea serpents trailing new kelp – Sea’s shorn hair Dying, like I did Your sand ringed with strategic walls of pearly shells, Your pale pink treasures you steal the homes of my descendants, shells And I lay in your palm Salty sand on your skin sea scents All around me as you close your hand Sea, rocking me as you walk A new version of me, renewed A perfect belemnite

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Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016 Congratulations to the winning poets Aisha Mango Borja, Priya Bryant, Sophia Carney, Letitia Chan, Steven Chung, Emily Dee, Finn Scarr de Haas van Dorsser, Emily Franklin, Jennie Howitt, Yasmin Inkersole, Cyrus Larcombe-Moore, Allegra Mullan, Roberta Sher, Lucy Thynne, Eva Brand Whitehead.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016 winners’ anthology The winners’ anthology is available from The Poetry Society website poetrysociety.org.uk/foyle

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Foyle Foundation The Foyle Foundation is an independent grantmaking trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the arts and learning. The Foyle Foundation has invested in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award since 2001, one of its longest partnerships. During this time it has trebled its support and enabled the competition to develop and grow to become one of the premier literary awards in the country. foylefoundation.org.uk

The Poetry Society The Poetry Society is the leading poetry organisation in the UK. For over 100 years we’ve been a lively and passionate source of energy and ideas, opening up and promoting poetry to an ever-growing community. We run acclaimed international poetry competitions for adults and young people, and publish The Poetry Review, one of the most influential poetry magazines in the English-speaking world. With innovative education and commissioning programmes, and a packed calendar of performances and readings, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages. poetrysociety.org.uk

Help young writers thrive The Poetry Society’s work with young people and schools across the UK has changed the lives of many emerging readers, writers and performers of poetry; developing confidence and literacy skills, encouraging self-expression and opening up new life opportunities. Support us by donating at poetrysociety.org.uk/donate

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Young writers and The Poetry Society As well as the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, The Poetry Society offers lots of other opportunities for young writers: Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. It’s for everyone interested in poets and poetry – whether you’ve just started out, or you’re a seasoned poetry reader and writer. You’ll find features, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, as well as new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We partner with amazing organisations, from English National Ballet and the British Library, to Oxfam, sparking ideas that travel far beyond the page. For updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @youngpoetsnet. youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk SLAMbassadors is The Poetry Society’s national youth slam championship, open to young people aged 12-18. Prizes include a masterclass weekend with slam champion Joelle Taylor and the chance to perform at a prestigious London venue alongside a headline spoken word act. Recent judges and headliners include Lemn Sissay, Kate Tempest and Akala. SLAMbassadors workshops are also available for schools and youth groups. slam.poetrysociety.org.uk Poetry Society Youth Membership is for aspiring writers and poetry enthusiasts aged 11-18. Members receive poetry goodies, opportunities for feedback, The Poetry Society’s newspaper Poetry News, and other benefits. poetrysociety.org.uk/membership Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

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Schools and The Poetry Society Foyle teaching resources, including lesson plans and online versions of both the winning and commended Foyle Young Poets anthologies, are available on our website. poetrysociety.org.uk/fypresources Poetryclass lesson plans and activities, covering all Key Stages and exploring many themes and forms of poetry, are easy to search and free to download. Each resource has been created by our team of poet-educators and teachers, with hands-on experience of developing an enthusiasm for poetry in the classroom. Find Poetryclass on our dedicated site: resources.poetrysociety.org.uk Page Fright is an online resource, bringing historical poetry to life with contemporary spoken word performances. Page Fright poets such as Benjamin Zephaniah perform their own work, and explore historical poems afresh. Resources and writing prompts help you create your own poetry. poetrysociety.org.uk/pagefright Poets in Schools help develop an understanding of and enthusiasm for poetry across all Key Stages. Whether you want a one-off workshop or a long-term residency, an INSET session for staff or a poet-led assembly, The Poetry Society can find the right poet for you. poetrysociety.org.uk/education School Membership connects your school with all that poetry has to offer. School members receive books, resources, posters, Poetry News and The Poetry Review (secondary only), as well as free access to our Poets in Schools service. poetrysociety.org.uk/membership Follow us on Twitter @PoetryEducation or sign up to our schools e-bulletin for all the latest news. 136

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Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 Judges: Kayo Chingonyi and Sinéad Morrissey Enter your poems – change your life! The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 is open to any writer aged 11 to 17 (inclusive) on the closing date of 31 July 2017. The competition is completely free to enter and poems can be on any theme or subject. Individuals can enter more than one poem, but please concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems – quality is more important than quantity! Entries cannot be returned under any circumstances so please keep copies. Prizes include mentoring, places on a week-long residential writing course at an Arvon Centre, publication in a prestigious anthology, and much more. Winners also benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from The Poetry Society via publication, performance and internship opportunities. How to enter: before entering, please read the competition rules, published in full on our website. Enter online or photocopy the entry form opposite and send it, with poems, to: FYP 2017, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. School entries: want to submit poems from your whole class? You can enter a set of poems by post or online using our simple submission form. Every school that enters 25 students or more will receive a £50 discount on our Poets in Schools service! Want a FREE set of anthologies, resources and posters for your class? Email your name, address and request to fyp@poetrysociety.org.uk For full rules and instructions on how to enter visit our website: foyleyoungpoets.org Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016

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Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2017 Entry Form Individuals: complete and post this form or enter online at foyleyoungpoets.org Schools: to submit multiple entries, use our online form for teachers or download a class entry form from foyleyoungpoets.org Name ____________________________________________________________ Address _________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Postcode ____________________ Country ____________________________ Your school ______________________________________________________ Your tel MOBILE PREFERRED ____________________________________________ Your email

__________________________________________________________________________________

Date of birth __________________ No. of poems submitted ______________ Gender

MALE

Ethnic group

FEMALE

OTHER

________________________________ PLEASE SPECIFY

________________________________________________________________________________

This information helps us to monitor and carry out our activities as required by our funders and in accord with the charitable aims of The Poetry Society. All personal information is treated confidentially.

I confirm I have read and agree to the competition rules (online at: poetrysociety.org.uk/fyprules) To enter by post, write the entrant’s name and postcode on the reverse of each poem submitted and include a completed entry form. Send to: FYP 2017, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX or enter online at www.foyleyoungpoets.org The Poetry Society has created a FREE online community, Young Poets Network, to keep you updated with opportunities for young writers. If you do NOT wish to join the mailing list, tick here


“Ample evidence that the poem can do almost anything with the utmost economy, intensity, and, for the reader, engagement and delight.” – W.N. Herbert, Judge

Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016 Anthology  

This anthology shares poems by the commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2016. The biggest competition for young writers, the Foyle Young...