National Poetry Competition Second Prize, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch
Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch Ponting
In the end we turned him into a verb:
to pont meaning to pose in ice and snow
until frozen. On the voyage south he’d be
tilting plates in the darkroom, in one hand
the developing dish, in the other a basin
of vomit. One minute he’d arrange us
in groups for the cinematograph, then rush
to the ship’s side. Once Ponco roped up
his JA Prestwich over Terra Nova’sbow,
balanced on three planks. He lost the tip
of his tongue when it stuck to the camera
at thirty below. Corneas can freeze
to peep-sight. At one hundred degrees
of frost the film’s ribbon will split.
To pont would also mean pontificate. He’d insist
on reeling the film slowly to prevent
sparks. We’d rehearse the Pole Picture:
mount the camera on the theodolite tripod,
wind twine over the trigger and guide it
round a ski stick to get the direction right.
He’d instruct us on setting the shutter, how to
use a flash in the tent with quarter of an inch of powder
and F11. En route to the Pole I sent back
negatives with the support teams, a sheet
torn from my sledging log detailing exposure
data; how composed we were, how cold.
Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch’s second collection, Not in These Shoes, was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2009. Her third book, Banjo, will be published by Picador in June. Samantha’s poems have appeared in Poetry Wales, Poetry London and the Forward Anthology 2002 and 2009. She has received awards for her work from the Society of Authors (2007), the Hawthornden Foundation (2005) and Literature Wales (1997 and 2002). In addition to the writing surgeries that she runs at Trinity Saint David University, Samantha is currently Leverhulme Poet in Residence at the National Museum of Wales.
From the judges...
John Glenday: "I came across this poem buried deep in the welcome blizzard of submitted work. A blink of Antarctic light, it shone out, and kept on shining. Ponting is witty, enchanting, beautifully constructed, meticulously observed. A poem that carries the hallmarks of wisdom, dedication, and most of all, a genuine love for its subject."