Poets put pen to paper for Brixham Theatre's popular competition
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Well, what a success! Brixham Theatre's poetry competition received 59 entries.
There were poems as diverse as love at first sight for a Guernsey cow and love for an unborn child growing in the womb.
There was had a poem about a renewed offer of marriage combined with congratulations on the recent large lottery win of the writer’s ex-girlfriend.
And there were poems that explored vanity and self-love; poems of longing and regret; funny poems, sad poems, deeply searching poems and many tongue-in-cheek creations.
So much outpouring of personal emotion and experience.
One unexpected bonus was the number of poets who had decided to include an accompanying footnote explaining why they had written their poem, what their inspiration had been.
Many also expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to address often painful memories and disturbing issues.
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Some told of how helpful and cathartic the process had turned out to be. To read this was extremely humbling, said the judges.
Another truly gratifying aspect of the project was the way in which so many members of the local community helped with advertising and promotion of the competition.
Volunteers tramped around Brixham in the wind and rain delivering laminated posters to be displayed on residents’ wrought iron fences and wooden gates.
As word spread, leaders of book clubs passed the information on to their group. Lynn Moore, acting chair of Brixham U3A, made sure an announcement appeared in her monthly newsletter to members.
Other organisations such as Brixham Stronger Together and the Friends of Brixham Library also played their part. It really was a local, community effort.
Other publicity came in the form of mentions or articles in local press and radio. A special thank you to Torbay Weekly, Riviera and Palm radio stations and to BBC Radio Devon.
Both judges, Patricia Oxley, general editor of Acumen Literary Journal and me, Senga Wallace Roche, theatre historian, thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems.
Choosing winners was not a simple task. It may be worth noting, when Pauline Smith, volunteer co-ordinator for the theatre, took part in the live BBC radio interview with David Fitzgerald, she observed that all the entrants were winners for simply going to the trouble of writing something and participating.
However, winners there are.
First prize is awarded to Catherine Carter for To a love, lost at sea. Second prize goes to Helen Boyles for A Wedding in Winter. Third prize is given to Helen Ashley for And then...
Poems short listed were Gone Dancing by Helen Boyles; Love is… by Janet Sawerd; The Magpies and the Love Mat by Suzy Miles; In the Stillness of the night by Lynn Shakespeare.
All poems entered are displayed on the Brixham Theatre website.
First prize winner Catherine Carter donated her prize to a good cause. She has asked that the cash alternative to the champagne first prize be sent to the RNLI.
Given that most of us live by the sea, maybe swim in it, sail on it or know someone who earns their living from it, we appreciate just how important such donations are.
Brixham Theatre is still closed but considering recent Government announcements, it is planned to reopen on October 25 with a production of Little Shop of Horrors by Brixham Operatic and Dramatic Society. This will be a four-night run.
The theatre is also currently starting to book acts for November, December and into the New Year.
First prize - To a love, lost at sea
A clear May night leads coolly into summer,
Offshore a late seabird calls.
Ripples gleam bright, to shatter on the pebbles,
Above a silent meteor falls.
Three years have ebbed since we lay together,
The sea, benign reflecting light above.
And yet, in wilder mood, it claimed you in its number,
And left my heart bereft of truest love.
Surely the sun will rise again tomorrow,
The day boats leave, the trawlers put to sea.
My heart will thrill, though filled with deepest sorrow,
And, when darkness falls, still feel you close to me.
Second prize - A Wedding in Winter
This was the time the world had folded on itself,
when blinds were drawn across the movement of the day,
when humans shrunk into their burrows,
couched there, senses quivering,
speech muffled, smiles masked.
This was the time you chose to seize an opening
between doors sliding shut on either side
to pledge faith in each other and a future beyond this.
This was the time you gathered armfuls
of flowers, let them sing their autumn tones
brim, gold, pink, red against old stone,
looped winter lights on fir.
In grace the bride stepped out
to smiling groom, met eyes across,
clasped hands around the ritual
of spoken vows, exchange of rings
before the gathered few
as to a multitude.
This was a time to sit and share food
in an upper room, wood panels flickering
to candle flame, to watch light wink and dance
in brightened eye, in glasses raised,
the time to offer nosegays spiced and sweet
plucked from shared memory.
And so through afternoon to dusk the careful spaces
shrunk to new brother-sisterhood
resolved to to travel with you to new openings
beyond these walls from this year to the next, and on.
And when the doors are closed and latches drawn
the pledge remains to lift and carry you.
At this year’s end, we too can carry this,
a torch into the dark,
believe in what shines back to us.
Third prize - And Then...
I’d been expecting you
like I’d been expecting all the others.
And they had come
filled the space
with small talk in too-loud voices.
They were content
each with another
who happened to be close enough
so that the whole thing
duos, trios, group dances.
Mine was the only solo
and so intricate, yet insignificant
were my moves
that they attracted no audience
you were there
the last to arrive.
For a time we existed
on opposite sides
of the room full of trite words,
Then something started
an intermittent withdrawal
so that the crowd, the conversation
the action diminished until
the last to leave left