The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2008
Kearan Williams won the 2008 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for her poem ‘Chill’, published in the Summer 2008 edition.
Judge Peter Porter wrote: "Kearan Williams’s 'Chill' is an audacious modernising of Horace’s Ode I.XI, the notorious ‘carpe diem’. Notorious because it is a reef on which a whole fleet of translators have wrecked, usually spectacularly. As an all-too-fallible taker-up of Latin myself, I admire this version immoderately. Of course, it’s anachronised, but is done with such lightness and skill as to be almost as good as Louis MacNeice’s reworking of Ode I.IV, ‘Solvitur acris hiems’. Abrupt, noisy and very jaunty. After all, Horace was not all decorum: he knew a lot about hard options."
After Horace, Odes 1.XI
Sweetheart, horoscopes never say: Leo. Check the tyre pressure,
or you’ll plunge off the cliff road tomorrow. Cancer. It’s got you.
Don’t fight it. Goodbye. Let’s just live our lives. If this is our last winter, that’s fine.
Down in the bay, the sea is endlessly crashed out on pebbles.
Come inside from the cold and the shore’s ceaseless grinding. Open another bottle. Let it breathe. Prune time hard back
to this moment. Hear me shushing you. Relax. It is now
and that matters. Be warm. Shut the window. Hold me. Here.
The last time we tried to talk:
a crackle in her voice like applewood
sparking. I think she’s trying to say something.
Her eyes, when they lifted, incredibly
grey, as her speech powdered
down like falling snow.
on the A-road, haulage and logistics.
Probably too late. Fading. Indistinct.
Now, at the end, intimate, withheld,
our lost conversations
heap and spoil at the graveside.
My life so far, suddenly taut with it,
the chill bluster of history blowing through my clothes.
Stretched between the masted boats of my birth and death
are ropes, wires, and along them come
a troupe of women, their parasols dancing,
a ginger-hoofed horse with its cart of provisions,
wheel on wire, wire and wheel.
Listen! The tiny bells of hecklers; the waft of carrion, rotting fruit,
the damp and mould flowering in my bones.
But there are fireworks, acrobats and supermarket trolleys.
My life is playing out as a sultan’s senlik,
and the air is filled with the twang of cold music.