The 15 Foyle Young Poets and 85 Commended Poets were announced on National Poetry Day, 7th October 2010 - chosen out of a phenomenal 20,510 poems entered from across the UK and beyond.
Click to read the 15 Winning poems: Fergus Blair, Phoebe Stuckes, Dominic Hale, Ella Duffy, Ameerah Arjanee, Evie Ioannidi, Daisy Syme-Taylor, Catherine Olver , Fielding Ronshaugen, Kiera Hall, Kim Clark, Sara Henry , Sarah Lucas , Sherrie Talgeri, Eleanor Coy
See a list of Commended poetsPostcards from Home: 2010 Foyle Winners posted us lines from their poems to celebrate last year's National Poetry Day, 7th October 2010 and its theme of 'Home. See the video here
The winners with judges Luke Kennard & Jane Draycott on 7th October 2010, National Poetry Day © Hayley Madden
These snakes are the best
Natural sandpaper you can
Get 'round here he
And my guide,
With a name I couldn’t
Pronounce then told
Me that they were also
Which was all for
The best because we’d been
Here a while.
One hell of a guide.
I should be home by now,
Sleeping deep and watching the
Ironic because I am the news,
You can get enough to drink
From the coconuts.
The sky will take care of you.
For a fearless man.
Dear diary, I’m
Slowly becoming a
Colonialist. It’s just me and the
Guide all the rest are dead.
And I think racist thoughts which
Undermine my liberal temp
Erament. If I’m not careful I’ll
Die before I’m 43. Just 3 days to go.
Three days and a lifetime in this
Hellhole of a swamp.
I couldn’t give a damn about
Natural sandpaper. I thought
As I bit the head off a snake.
Chewy, like the centre of
I like to pretend that
My sister writes me.
I tear up random leaves
And the lines are of pen
Telling me it’ll be OK.
Why couldn’t we eat the bodies?
It’s against his religion. He said he’d kill
me, as he sharpened his knife
with a snake, if I tried to.
Images from my previous dreams
‘The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules’
Honeyed sun trap.
Fibres of white mould growing out of the mouth like candyfloss. Vapid eyes and skewed limbs stuck at inhuman angles. A bracelet is a manacle, flame setting silver and eyes aglow.
Name: lambda, Greek letter, Dream name.
A beauty spot can look like a bullet hole from here.
My dream images are never shackled to reality or reason, I get madder if the days grow longer.
There is a hole in this photograph, watch it burn.
prayer in picture
the moon-splashed hill
is calling to me.
over the road’s spool
of dolls (once china
and now puzzle) I
sing to myself in
the reels of milk
spill, unable to sleep.
my arms crook- I
am calcified in mirror
water, lie stark still
and sweat in eyes.
in the morning
the postman makes us
sign for fire. stalks
uncork red rain and
my brother is alone
grown to silt and
ceramic. he is perfect
in the light. they
put his puppet in
bed but on the
floor. I go outside
where the spirit chants
and they tell me I
will see great things.
He lay naked in the feathered grass,
Tracing the constellations with his finger.
He cut a pomegranate and pricked the seeds with a needle,
Watching its heather blood stain his fingers,
I watched him,
Nodding carefully to the beat of the silence,
Watching him clap at the waltzing fireflies.
Running to the water,
He crouched and lapped it up,
Pure as oyster tears.
Twirling the moon’s reflection in the water,
It cart wheeled across the icy surface,
And rippled at his feet.
As I held his hand,
And saw the time crawl into the carcass of a dead crow.
Laying back down,
Shivering - he curled into himself,
I stroked his hair,
And a blanket of stars draped him,
To the world, he smelled of white teeth and expensive coffee. Expensive coffee in a crystal cup, billowing seductive smoke over a copy of Dostoevsky. To me, he smelled of dusty mirrors. You know, that scent. He was tall, tall as a university professor with an aquiline nose, a black waistcoat dusted every morning, and dimples smirking of charming, ironic arrogance. Tall mirrors enthroned in the hallways of haunted houses. I was short, short as a skinny acne-faced teenager who wanted to be Dostoevsky and found coffee too strong to be. I wanted to stand on tiptoes and stare into him, illusioned. But. I could not touch his peppered grey hair. He had a wife who could reach down and punctuate me like a pustule with her willowy crimson nails.
Don’t Go With The Flow, Make The Flow Go With You
We closed our books and
Returned the borrowed time.
We left no forwarding address
And hid our bridges
Under moss and fallen branches
Because we didn’t want
To burn them.
We settled in clearings
Where the trees bore clay fruit
And the sky changed colour
In the middle
Where the paint had run out.
And everything was so
But at the same time it wasn’t
Because that was where we lived.
And at night we would
Turn on the moon
If we wanted a glass of water
Or to go to the bathroom.
And in the morning
We would wind up the birds.
We lived as if the things which
Should have been
Were already said and done.
The only things we feared
Were nosebleeds from
Falling off the
And waking up one morning
And I remembered, then, the cruel significance
of the water around my ankles, my submerged feet;
the water was clear but distorted. I could see the stones,
each rock, each mineral formed at different times in
Earth’s long and dark history. It was as if
I had pushed my face under and opened my eyes
and let the weird silence of being below the surface
force its way through.
The paperback lay open on the bank, the corners
of the pages dampened, turned by damp hands.
We joked and laughed and threatened to push each other
over the edge, through steady perpetuum mobile
of the high screen of reeds, crashing though,
still laughing, to see where the fishes swam
Ascent of Toubkal
Today, we follow Mohammed. He has conjured
a crumpled cigarette-box from his pocket:
picking one from the row there is a click before it glows,
a little exhaust pipe. We pass the water, exhausted.
Despite the morning coating of sun-cream, milk-white,
I am as sun-burned as the rock I'm sitting on.
I sweat into my straw hat. The incline has been kind
so far, but ahead, in the haze of distance,
scree roughens the mountain-sides.
Madeleine is mounted on the mule -
a blonde child who has strayed into
the wrong picture-book. Her voice carries
like a mosquito, whining in the thin air.
A palatial tent has been unloaded from the mule.
Inside, we sit on the dust-red rugs playing cards
and drinking peppermint tea - a brown stream
poured from a great height into little glasses.
Holding it to my eye, the sprig of peppermint inside
the glass makes it look like a fish-tank.
We try to list the queen's grandchildren,
Dickens' novels, supermarkets, Bond films, the four
Shakespeare plays with apostrophes in their titles.
We have paused for the rest of the afternoon
so that we can learn to breathe again.
Two in the morning. With no mirror
on the mountain, I put my lenses in blind.
In turn, we perform our ablutions behind a rock
and barter in whispers, toothpaste for loo-roll -
even Madeleine is picking up Moroccan habits.
Forty miles away in Marrakech the clocks have changed
but Mohammed can't remember which way.
He worries we will miss what we have come for.
The moon has risen. It's time. In a queue
we feel our way from stone to stone in the shadows.
There is no way of knowing how far we have come.
House Sitting for Mr Brown
Underneath an overturned flower pot,
are Mr Brown's keys.
The windows are high, with floor length curtains
that smell like they dried hanging in the garden.
Fading prints hang on the walls in the hallway.
She stands too close to a painting in a frame,
so primary daubs of blue and red and green
(like a television screen)
become a girl.
In the sitting room, she touches every book on the shelves.
The slim volumes are paper.
The fat ones feel like her grandmother's hands.
The words inside are India or Paris, or just ink.
Under the loose floor boards in the kitchen
she finds a box of fairy lights, labeled (neatly)
For When in Need of Cheer.
In her imagination, it is raining.
Mr Brown looks at the grey sky and
makes his ceiling full of stars.
She falls in love (with the house).
She is in love with the wiring.
The electricity is charmingly faulty in the bedrooms.
She imagines Mr Brown reading at night.
He curses congenially when the lights flicker.
His drawer is full of half-used candles.
She is in love with the wallpaper. Most of all
when she imagines Mr Brown with the paste,
smoothing each sheet over the house-bones,
like men who build canvases for painters.
She waters the tomatoes in the garden
on Saturday, as the sheaf of notes instructs.
They are handwritten in long swooping letters.
Mr Brown has bad spelling and good grammar.
She presses herself into the bed sheets.
They are downy, swirling around her like the sea,
white, foaming cream, she dreams.
She wakes - is it the bird on the windowsill?
It is a lingering question.
Is she in love with the brick house
or is she in love with
(an imagined) Mr Brown?
A sheep freezes in a field
in nothing but a thin layer of skin.
Its face is smeared with slobber
and its buttocks with its own manure.
When he snorts, icy extracts come out of his nose;
his legs shake as he wears nothing
but his socks.
He stays there for hours on end
in the sloppy, mud-covered field.
First shear, it’s his first time.
First shear of the season.
Shaking sheep in the field.
First shear of the winter.
To all the times I've told you that the needles in your arms
Won't repel the sweating leather men who're eating out your palms
And for all the dogs on Queen Street teaching homeless men to beg
It'll only numb the winter if you stab it in your leg.
And to copper coins and cobblers and the promise of a meal,
And to friendly note-exchanges and the silence of the deal,
And my love goes out to hunger and the golds that grace your hat
And the pocket-plenty strangers throwing curses where you're sat.
Then to all the times he promised that he'd find for you a roof
And to every time you nodded even though you knew the truth
Then for all the smiles of pity and the forks of fat-fried food
And the hate you have for living, for the rich and for the rude.
And to sleeping bags and street lamps and the sound of being sick
And to magazine-made nonchalance and coats four inches thick
And condolences to morphine and the numbness in your toes
And the beauty of a punter while you're bustin' up his nose.
Then to all the times they've told you you're a nuisance to their trade
And uprooted you from rubbish and the roostings you have made,
Then for all the fat policemen, bellies full on Sunday roast
Who appropriately reason with the odour that you boast.
And to broken hearts and heroin and skin stretched over bones
And to hospitals and alleyways and knives and mobile phones,
And to hope and love and hatred and to off-license receipts
And to all the sturdy soldiers kicking ass upon the streets.
We’re alone in the speechless house and
I’m sitting at my wooden desk and
My dad is sitting at his wooden desk and
I can hear his pen scribbling downstairs and
He can hear my pen scribbling upstairs
A harmony of scratches and chair creaks
He takes a call
With a business associate and
I take a call
With the talking moon
His mouth speaks softly about the rising investment proposal and
My hand writes softly about the pale moan lifting my bones
I become entranced in my work and
He becomes entranced in his work and
We’re one beating force rushing
Tirelessly into the night
Dr Livingston writes to Stanley
I've been walking for hours in this wood where
the warp and the weft of the branches matches
the weave of my tweed jacket: close knit
as we were. My watch has rotted off.
I thought of steering by the sun but
I'm sure it spins anticlockwise here.
Or was that Africa?
Getting lost has become a recurring habit -
along with the malaria. Here
it reminds me of an Escher or an endless
Renaissance fretwork stepped out by deer
unafraid of fading light through wax pine needles.
Cold creeps around the telescoping sky,
my hands are knots, freeze clotted in the knuckles.
I want to go home and hear
the sharp crack of branches in a burning grate,
to potter and do old man things.
I don't know where I am; before the daylight goes completely send
directions scrolled out in smoke signals,
a sat-nav, Ordinance Survey map so
faint orange lines replace giddy bluffs.
Send your voice tight-roping the telephone wires
while I wait and remember it the very first time we met.
"Dr Livingstone, I presume?"
My Dearest, please write it
on a parked, articulated lorry
in the biggest letters you can find.
nobody ever wins, nobody ever loses
and if i could myself in night, i would
fill up a bathtub with bruise-skied insomnia
turn down the taps & drown
tucked in the crooks of knees or elbows &
naked as an x-ray,
the universe is loud and swimming in my pupils
i feel like God:
so maybe i am,
omniscient & wrapped in infinity;
yeah, i could be God
swaddled in the endless milky way
with strip-lighting for skin
& something that only smells like blood,
that only tastes like pennies, is sprinting
through my superior vena cava:
a manufactured deity,
because this has been the
making of me
but wait, though--
there was an ‘if’ at the beginning
of that sentence--
i didn’t draw a bath
i didn’t become God
i am nothing
and then you say what you haven’t been saying
this entire time:
that could be anyone
On The Beach
I have never seen a sky so grey
Like the skin of an elephant, pregnant with rain.
I have never been here before.
I had never imagine rocks like these, jagged, aggressive,
Jutting out starkly, like the hipbones of an anorexic girl.
A warning perhaps. Or nature’s way of telling us to keep away.
The sea is furious, the waves are dragons
Rearing up angrily, jade-green, iron-grey
Crashing incessantly against the rocks, trying to break down the defences.
What do they want from me?
I know what I want with them.
The air is brackish, moist, whipped by wind
Sending piles of lacy foam skittering along the pebbles.
This is sinister.
Seagulls wheel overhead, screeching like widows,
Demonic and grasping.
I am alone.
And I will not die today.
Safrina Ahmed, Hannah Arnaud, Tessa Bamkin, Martin Battey, Samuel Boesville, Helen Bowell, Alice Bridgwood, Fraser Brown, James Carnell, Daisy Chandley, Elizabeth Crowdy, Jade Cuttle, Amir Dada, Hannah Davies, Flora de Falbe, Evangeline Delgado, Edward Dillon-Robinson, Cara Dorris, Chloe Duce, Alishba Emanuel, Anna Farley, Abbie Gardiner, Richard Garner, Laura Grantham, Alexandra Guy, Kate Haines, Samantha Hansen, Charlotte Higgins, Catherine Hodgson, Kevin Hong, Teddy Horton-Turner, Amanda Huelin, Ong Hui Yao, Paris Jaggers, Samantha Jeffery, Beth Jellicoe, Elizabeth Johnson, Folake Kazeem, Harry Kent, Lilian Kerfoot, Esme Kirk, Namita Krishnamurthy, Morgan Laws, Anthony Lazarus, Liam Matsumoto Lee, Megan Lord, Domhnall Iain MacDonald, Violet Macdonald, Ruth Maclean, Chloe Maughan, Charlotte Maxwell, Ciaran McCormick, Joseph McManners, Rebecca McManus, Aithne Moran, Elizabeth Morland, Gregory Ng, Harry Nickless, Phoebe Power, Chester Pylkkanen, Charlotte Reed, Philip Robinson, Gabrielle Roxby, Eleanor Sanders, Ankita Saxena, Mina Seckin, Jihane Semmami, Alexander Shaw, Kirsty Shinton, Cynthia So, Ruth Tang Yee Ning, Douglas Taylor, Deva Taylor, Kwek Mu Yi Theophilus, Sadie Tillotson, Claudia Turkington, Gregory Walker, Ruolin Wang, Emma Warren, Daniel Webb, Scott Wilson, Isabel Wood, Jennifer Workman, Andrew Wynn Owen, Liu Zhihao.
Jane Draycott’s latest collection Over was published in April 2009 by Carcanet/OxfordPoets and was shortlisted for the 2009 T S Eliot Prize. Nominated three times for the Forward Prize for Poetry, her first two full collectionsPrince Rupert's Drop and The Night Tree (Carcanet/Oxford) were both Poetry Book Society Recommendations. Other collections include from Two Rivers Press, Christina the Astonishing (with Peter Hay and Lesley Saunders) and Tideway, a long sequence of poems about London's working river (with paintings by Peter Hay) written while poet-in-residence at the River & Rowing Museum. Jane was a Stephen Spender Prize-winner in 2008 and teaches on postgraduate writing programmes at Oxford University and the University of Lancaster. Her contemporary version of the medieval dream-vision Pearl is forthcoming in 2010 from Carcanet/OxfordPoets and is supported by Arts Council England South East.
Luke Kennard was born in Kingston Upon Thames in 1981 and grew up in Luton. He writes and publishes poetry and short stories and has written for the stage, taking numerous productions to the Edinburgh Fringe. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Exeter and lectures in creative writing at the University of Birmingham. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2005 and his first collection of prose poemsThe Solex Brothers was published later that year by Stride. His second collection The Harbour Beyond the Movie was published by Salt in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, making him the youngest poet ever to be shortlisted. His new collection, The Migraine Hotel is available now from Salt and was recognised by the Guardian Review as a ‘Treat in Store’.