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Roger Philip Dennis wins National Poetry Competition

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An artist and tutor running painting workshops from his studio in Devon has won the Poetry Society’s £5,000 National Poetry Competition. ‘Corkscrew Hill Photo’ by Roger Philip Dennis was described by judge Roddy Lumsden as a “stunning poem which mixes sweetness, sentiment, the visual and a touch of the grotesque”. He added that the poem “seemed to contain a strange mix of naivety and complexity. Its sonic effects were engrossing. Its phrasing was surprising and fresh … Most of all, I couldn't quite grasp what it was about, but in the best of ways – I wanted to reread and make my own story from what I was being offered. Like all good poems, it offered the shared experience of writership and readership”.

Roger Philip Dennis grew up in the New Forest, and went to St Andrews for an MA in philosophy, where he co-founded, produced and illustrated the literary magazine Entry between 1969-73. He writes fiction as well as poetry, and lives in Newton Abbot.

On what inspired the poem, he said: “The observations that were the seeds of what became, over time, and fermented with an equal volume of imagination, the poem, took place many years ago. In the winter of 1982-3 to be precise…. It was while I was out taking landscape photos of the quiet, isolated, rural area of Devon where I was then living that I happened to notice, by chance and in the distance, this figure of what seemed an elderly lady leaving a rather dilapidated cottage. Visible neither clearly nor for long, I made little of it at the time. But several years later the image started to re-emerge increasingly insistently, producing the poem. Or what later still became the poem. It spent many years going in and out of the ‘to be reworked’ folder — mainly in!”

Ten other winners were also named, including Joanne Key for her poem ‘The Day the Deer Came’ (2nd), and Fran Lock for ‘Last Exit to Luton’ (3rd). There were eight commended poets: Kevin Patrick McCarthy, Beverley Nadin, Paul Nemser, Eliot North, Mark Pajak, Jonathan Tel, Jason Watts and Tom Weir. The other judges with Lumsden were fellow poets Glyn Maxwell and Zoë Skoulding.

The top three poems will be published in the spring issue of The Poetry Review, with the winners invited to appear at various events and festivals around the country. 

You can find the top three poems here



◄ Standing up for poetry as candidates are asked to perform

Ted Hughes award goes to Andrew Motion's 'Coming Home' ►

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Hannah Granger

Mon 6th Apr 2015 23:08

Then there's the 'film'....

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Roy Marshall

Fri 3rd Apr 2015 14:03

Greg, you are probably right. I just thought it rather strange that the judge used the fact he 'didn't quite grasp what it was about' as his main criteria. 'Most of all'.
Also, I've got a whole lot of questions to ask about this poem- for one, how does silence 'crackle'?
I didn't enter the comp so I'm not into sour grapes. I don't mean to be rude to the writer, just thought this poem needed so serious re-writing and am not sure how it won £5K. The judges report certainly does little to enlighten me.

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Greg Freeman

Fri 3rd Apr 2015 08:47

Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought it was about an old lady going down to the pub to get her flagon refilled with cider. For some reason I thought of the novelist Jean Rhys in her later years.

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Roy Marshall

Fri 3rd Apr 2015 00:49

'I couldn't quite grasp what it was about'. Yep, I'm with you there.

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