The 2020 Awards

The winners were as follows:

1st Prize          TICKLING THE DRAGON – Jocelyn Simms, France


2nd Prize         THE WOMAN WITH AN OWL TATTOO – Anne Walsh Donnelly, Mayo, Ireland


3rd Prize          HEFT – David J Costello, Wallasey, England


Judges Comments:

1st Prize – Tickling The Dragon by Jocelyn Simms is an important piece of work, both historically and artistically. Uncomfortable reading but should be essential for everyone. Although only a short volume each poem is a masterpiece, full of subtle references. From the first poem;

‘…a boy, A brilliant boy.
…brighter than a thousand suns.’

A reference to ‘Little Boy’ as well as to the young Robert Oppenheimer.

A poem that sets the scene for the horrors that follow. Each poem complete, confident and comfortable in its own right. Every word counting.

I cried when I read ‘Les Fleurs d’Azur’.

‘A naked girl, torso stripped of skin, cries,
and later… ‘A white liquid oozes from her. Maggots spawn…’

The atomic bomb story is a powerful one of course. The dropping of two WMD on Japan’s citizens might have saved a lot of allied lives but it was also a war crime. Certainly not mankind’s finest hour.

However, the tragedy didn’t end there. You’d think that the western powers would have spent the rest of their lives trying to make amends but no, the state-sponsored radiation experiments conducted by our own government upon our own people showed what utter disdain for human life is prevalent amongst the elite. Another crime that should never be forgotten.

‘The bomb exploded: dirt shot up,
…I saw a tracery of finger and knee bone…
Face the mushroom cloud.’

Anyone who isn’t moved to tears by the sheer brutal honesty and stark realism of these words should give up reading poetry. This is what the art form was meant for! In a world, which seems to get crazier each day we neglect the lessons of history at our peril.

A worthy winner of the International Poetry Book Awards by a fantastic poet who knocks spots off most of the established names in the arts business today.


2nd Prize – The Woman With An Owl Tattoo
by Anne Walsh Donnelly is a fabulous piece of work. An honest, daring collection that moves subtly through realisation and awakening, fear, humour, sensuality and ultimately salvation.

From the first lines of the first poem we know we are on board for a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

From ‘Barbie’ to ‘Eric Carmen’, from Catholic school abuse and backward teachings, mental and physical torment, suicidal thoughts…

‘The hound’s jaws were prised apart
by verbal battles and egg-shelled
silences.’

Sensual lines are everywhere as the confidence to be who one really is emerges like butterfly from a cocoon…

‘Play a sonata on your skin’

and

‘soaped skin, pliable as dough.’

There is the waitress, the vet’s perfume, a Kafka-like scrap with changing human relationships and the artist’s struggle for recognition in a world of unbelievers and doubters.  This is brave, in-your-face poetry and I love it.

The author has endured and triumphed. There is a light in the cave and a reason to be proud. An excellent poetry collection and a worthy 2nd place winner.


3rd Prize – Heft
by David J Costello is another excellent poetry volume that surprises, moves and delights in equal measure. An award-winning poet, he has weaved together a beautiful collection, layered full of personal experience, nature, myth and mortality.

From ‘Conch’:

‘Every shell has it’s own voice,
but only the empty ones sing.’

In ‘Rain’ we experience how life passes so quickly. We wake up one day and wonder where all the years have gone…

‘…sepia streets.
Outside my window
The rain sounds the same,’

The next generation…

‘Grainy with meiosis,
you’ve steeped for twenty years…’

We experience a washed-up whale, dead on the beach. Satan’s tree. Welsh legends, a furnaceman who ‘drowned inside himself.’ There is a sadness here, an inevitability but also a catharsis and hope for the future…

‘My ordinary life is such a weight.
…I drop it in the quarry’s mouth.’

A superb poetry book and much deserved 3rd place winner.


When we started this contest in January 2020 we were hoping for a couple of dozen or so entries.  How wrong can you be!  And how surprised we were by the sheer quality of poetry books submitted.  So much so that instead of picking just ten writers for our shortlist we decided to publish a longlist first, just so we could mention more of the great books we’d received.

‘Amongst our top ten we have various themes: barrack banter, Spanish art, drug addiction and redemption, sexual awakening, personal narratives, the nuclear age, nature and myth, life and death and of course love. Proof, if it were needed that modern poets can shine just as bright as the old familiar names. If you are a true poetry fan I would urge you to click the links below and buy a few copies – you won’t be disappointed, although I should warn you that you may end up crying yourself to sleep having discovered the sheer moving, beauty of words.’ – Dave Lewis

Some fabulous and varied collections that should provide something for all poetry fans.

Shortlist

(in no particular order)

Jackie Biggs – Breakfast in Bed

David J Costello – Heft

Anne Walsh Donnelly – The Woman with an Owl Tattoo

Marc Goldfinger – Heroin’s Harbour

Phoebe Kalid – Everything’s Great And I’m Still Dying

Ewan Lawrie –  Last night I met John Adcock

Kathy Miles – Gardening With Deer

Elizabeth Ridout – Summon

Derek Sellen – The Other Guernica

Jocelyn Simms – Tickling the Dragon


To find out more or buy copies of these great books just click the author / title above.


Longlist

(in no particular order)

Arthur Allen  – The Nurseryman

Chrissy Banks – The Uninvited

Jackie Biggs – Breakfast in Bed

Ian Royce Chamberlain – Not Forgotten

David J Costello – Heft

Anne Walsh Donnelly – The Woman with an Owl Tattoo

Rory Duffy – Guide to the items recovered from the stomach of the last wild whale

Marc Goldfinger – Heroin’s Harbour

Lucy Ingrams – Light-fall

Phoebe Kalid – Everything’s Great And I’m Still Dying

Ewan Lawrie –  Last night I met John Adcock

Simon Maddrell – Throatbone

Antony Mair – Let the wounded speak

Mike McNamara – Dialling A Starless Past

Kathy Miles – Gardening With Deer

Marie Naughton – A Life, Elsewhere

Elizabeth Ridout – Summon

Gareth Alun Roberts – What’s Not Wasted

Roxanna – Me, She & Her

Derek Sellen – The Other Guernica

Jocelyn Simms – Tickling the Dragon

Ruth Stacey – I, Ursula

Mariah Whelan – the love I do to you

James Winder – The History of Eternity


To find out more or buy copies of these great books just click the author / title above.




Results were announced on our web site, Facebook Group and Twitter on Sunday 1st November, 2020.  We have also informed the UK national press, Literature Wales, Pontypridd Observer and associated district newspapers, SW Echo, the Western Mail, BBC Wales and RCTCBC as well as many organisations on our mailing list. Thanks to all those who entered and look forward to reading your work next year.