2018 Poetry d’Amour Contest Winners

Judge’s Report by Coral Carter

First Prize

Scott-Patrick Mitchell   We Held Hands On The Way To The Protest

Second Prize

Fran Graham  Valentine Villanelle

Highly Commended

Kevin Gillam   The Day You Came

Shane McCauley  Remembering The Waterfall

Commended

Ross Jackson  Old Horses

Alison Thompson  Future Tense

Youth Incentive Award

Mina Wallis  What To Do With Old Memories


Judge’s Report

This year’s anthology the first after the success of the same sex marriage vote in Australia and fifty years since the summer of love in San Francisco celebrates love in all its forms with the accompanying foolishness and wisdom. It was with these two events in mind as I read the 210 entries to Poetry d’Armour.

We all need to love and to be loved but finding love can be both problematic and joyous. Love that is inclusive love for all was the ideology of the summer of love and the same sex marriage bill. It’s what we came here for said Elton John and all we need said John Lennon, Michael Leunig recognised love’s complexity Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

I chose the winners to reflect how our society is changing to include all in the search and discovery of love

In the winning poem, We Held Hands on the Way to the Protest by Scott-Patrick Mitchell, expressed a struggle with anger but it was love which grounded him. Ultimately love conquers all as it describes the hard road to acceptance.

the spit and hate of those who discriminate
fuels our compassion, all because we held
hands, we held hands. now, hold my hand     again

Runner up Valentine Villanelle by Fran Graham. As love usually involves two, this this poem comments on the unifying aspect of love. A couple enjoying the sunset on a beach on Valentines’ evening are united under a moon by a single shadow of love. A romantic and charming view of love emphasised by the villanelles repetition of the line.

Night flatters a stout moon, you hold my hand
in warm evening stillness and sky reflections
love casts a single shadow in the sand.

 

Highly Commended: in the day you came by Kevin Gillam, describes in the most beautiful way a warm day by the sea when he met a lover and physical impact of a new love.

… I was snared, bit, stung, blessed,
floored, found ….

Followed by and the response of the natural world completing the picture of the effect of love.

… clouds went from
scrawl to sense, leaves blushed then
drew their breath, …

 

Highly Commended: Remembering the Waterfall by Shane McCauley, a photograph prompts the memory of the past which expresses the vision of the future driven by the power of love, embracing the early rise of love the heat, cool and constant enduring energy.

as we stared decades ahead
the white energy of the falls
the slate-grey rock spruce
and shiny with spring

 

Commended Old Horses by Ross Jackson, a short and simple poem which provokes a powerful image of the strength and longevity of love. I found the image of a couple in their later years haunting and constant and in my memory for some days. Simply and powerfully written.

in tandem
their clops rebound
down tiled hallway
as hum of tv fades

 

Commended Future Tense by Alison Thompson provides us with a glimpse into the first beginnings and suppression of a forbidden attraction, carrying a hint at the destruction to come, as the path towards love may not be always smooth.

When she approaches, you curb your body language, turn your limbs
away but that same body betrays you—you laugh too loudly

Finally, the winner of the youth section What to do With Old Memories by Mina Wallis, is a surprisingly mature series of questions about discarding the memories of a broken relationship from the beginning to end.

Do you avoid the restaurants and cafes?
That you both made plans to visit someday?
It all seems so foreign to me
What is the right thing to do with all these memories?

 

Congratulations to all the poets who are part of this year’s Poetry Amour anthology. Thank you to WA Poets Inc for inviting me to be a judge of this year’s competition, a task both exciting and daunting. To those who didn’t make the cut this year, some advice which was once given to me—just keep writing!

Coral Carter
2018 Contest Judge

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First Prize

We Held Hands On Our Way To The Protest

we held hands as an act of defiance
for those who once deemed our love
illegal

we held hands & some stranger
he didn’t like it

he spat faggots
then spat on us

i wanted to rally against him
but you dragged me to the rally
instead

you could see, as i chanted the slogans
#voteyes & #loveislove & #weareequal,
that my anger was brimming over, could
not be stemmed: that i wanted to start
rioting, because we are born with riot
in our blood, because our love is not illegal

but you held my hand, grounded me

afterward, you took me to the art gallery
& there we found a painting based on ‘78,
the protest that led to Mardi Gras. & there,
amid the placards & police resistance, we
saw a couple holding hands. you said
that’s us

before that painting, that moment of revolution,

we held hands. in defiance. in love. in recognition
of all the activists who have stood here before us,
because solidarity is timeless, reaches into moment

the spit & hate of those who discriminate
fuels our compassion, all because we held
hands, we held hands. now, hold my hand     again

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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Second Prize

Valentine Villanelle

Night flatters a stout moon, you hold my hand
in warm evening stillness and sky reflections
love casts a single shadow on the sand.

Bright sunset pink colours a seaweed strand
fading day slopes off in all directions.
Night flatters a stout moon, you hold my hand.

A sea bird slows its wings, we watch it land
it gently touches down on our affections;
love casts a single shadow on the sand.

Ghost rays through the trees a dappled band
two Chinese lanterns sway our recollections;
night flatters a stout moon, you hold my hand.

Breaking waves contribute their own brand
of music, scent and whisper-soft inflections;
love casts a single shadow on the sand.

You lift my face, a breath, the flame is fanned
we sip our wine, moonlight paints our complexions;
night flatters a stout moon, you hold my hand
love casts a single shadow on the sand.

Fran Graham

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Highly Commended

The Day You Came

it was good, and if I’d read my stars
that day I would have found it was
bound to be, would have joined the dots of
fate, the day you slipped through the sky and came
to me. there you stood, glint off sea no
match for your wrap of blue and sheen, charms
strung tight as beads, looped through chat, you so
keen to talk of wings and drift, warm air
that might bid you, yes, on this, the day
you came. me? I was snared, bit, stung, blessed,
floored, found – all of these. and clouds went from
scrawl to sense, leaves danced and blushed then
drew their breath, the moon spun and showed its
not seen side, the day you came to me

Kevin Gillam

 

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Highly Commended

Remembering The Waterfall

Taken happy prisoners
in that first photograph
we are even then smiling
the other’s smile
as if knowing from the beginning
all that we would since
accumulate

what you have referred to
as our memory basket
our heart-halls overflowing
with souvenirs
trinkets and mementos oh so valuable
of all that love all that longing

and all there before us
as we stared decades ahead
the white energy of the falls
at our upper left
the slate-grey rock spruce
and shiny with early spring

relaxed and mirroring ourselves
as we still do
yet held here in the simple frame
remembering all that would
happen to us – long long summers
winters with sharp bursts of rain.

Shane McCauley

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Commended

Old Horses

now with tired legs
shod in scuffs
they head to bed
shambling

in tandem
their clops rebound
down tiled hallway
as hum of tv fades

that kind of love
their kind of love
broken in
long ago

Ross Jackson

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Commended

Future Tense

You meet her at the door
even though it is not your house. All night,
caught in the wine-warmed banter of old friends and new,
you skirt the edges of each other’s conversations, avoid direct talk.
When she approaches, you curb your body language, turn your limbs
away but that same body betrays you – you laugh too loudly
when she laughs and each time she moves your pulse
quickens, you shift in your seat, tug at your now
too-tight shirt. Outside, a last-quarter moon
has risen above the remnant rainforest
and scant stars pit a sheet-iron sky.
As you say your goodbyes
she is the last one
you kiss. Later,
in the stark familiarity
of the quiet drive home,
she picks a fight with her lover.

Alison Thompson

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Youth Incentive Award

What To Do With Old Memories

Should you keep the letters from a teenage summer fling?
What do you do with your ex husbands wedding ring?
Do we take the photos of lovers and throw them in the bonfire?
Do we delete the text messages from the ones we once desired?
How to determine what’s right to do with your digital trails?
RE: All the passion that an email entails.
Should you throw away the beat up guitar with the broken strings?
The one you’d play, as your beloved would sing?
Do you take the CD’s he gave you from the glove box of the car?
Or do you take the CD’S and take them far?

Should you shred the love letters from Germany?
Most seem to disapprove, on the merit of sentimentality,
For love letters are dying, it now seems to be.
Do you forget the nickname you once said blissfully?
Every ‘baby’ from your mind optimistically?
Do you keep the valentines chocolates in the freezer?
Although you just heard from Sandy that he’s a cheater

What about the farmhouse you both built out of town?
In order to start over, must you tear these things down?
Do you avoid the restaurants and cafes?
That you both made plans to visit someday?
It all seems so foreign to me
What is the right thing to do with all these memories?

And what about Paris at night with those twinkling lights?
Would we ever fall in love if we knew it carried such a price?
When you look at your off-white wedding dress
Should you swell up with remorse and regret?
Do we scrub the skin where we’ve been touched?
Until our flesh is tender, red and roughed?

When you look at the moving boxes in the boot
Do you ever stop and wonder if she thinks of it all too?
Do you throw out the roses that have started to rot?
Do I put all our memories in the attic in a steel box?
I’m never quite sure what’s right and what’s not,
When I’ve long since swallowed the key to the lock.

Mina Wallis

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