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Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition 2015

This Year's Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition Won by Gillian Henchley


This year’s judge, the award-winning poet George Szirtes, has chosen Gillian Henchley’s poem Isola Bella as the winner. Gillian Henchley’s prize will include having a chapbook released by Ward Wood Publishing in November this year, and she will work with editor Adele Ward in the coming months to select and work on the poems for her collection. She will also receive 50 copies and will have a launch reading in the Camden venue on December 4th. Thanks to everyone for entering: all proceeds go to the charity Caris Camden which provides Cold Weather Shelters in London

The results are:

1st Place:

Gillian Henchley – Isola Bella

Highly Commended:

Afrodita Nikolova – Next timeYou Say Grandma's Senile I will Let You Wander in Her Sin Aisles
Afrodita Nikolova – A Leftist Union of Dolls in the System of Paediatric Anatomy
Ruth Blang – A Mood
Terence Brick – Gollard
Gregory Byrne – Croan
Catherine Edmunds – A Man Goes Out
Pru Kitching – Franz Kafka in Durham City
Ruth Smith – In Passing
Theophilus – All Souls


The winning poem:

Isola Bella
by Gillian Henchley

Mistletoe.  Each table has a spray
of holly amid the perfect spaced array:

Venetian tumblers, green and red
partnered with the slender reeds

of thin spun goblets, folded napkins
shaped like swans, cutlery in silver lines.

The voices tune to his respectful calm
measuring the menu, solemn as a psalm.

No fluster when the uninitiated fail,
prefer poussin to his corn-fed quail.

There is swing in this balletic mime
the kitchen corps, the steady rhyme

of plates processing garlanded with jus
in complementary tastes and hues.

He signals to the players on his stage
allowing each a starring role, a phase

of prominence, savours all he loves
before slow folding into coats and gloves.

The robes of white go in the laundry bin,
the floors are swept, tables set, nothing

left undone: outside bruising ice
street rubbish, squalls, north wind bite.

No use to linger, one key clicks, the other
opens to an island world, moist smother

of blankets, a spread of pills like shot,
each colour in its pot, Bella’s  cough

catching at the air, drag of hair tangled
on the pillow’s sweat, food barely touched.

What makeshift care, while he is out -
a mess of lipsticked stains rim that cup,

staleness curling sly round kitchen corners,
a smear of ash unwiped upon the drainer.

He watches frowns chase across her face
imagines endings for this year, this place,

picks up a cushion turns down the light
and silently begins to set the room to right.


Buy the winning collection here

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