Friday, 27 September 2013

The 2013 Gloucestershire Poetry Prize

A suspicious sales-type phone call yesterday evening turned out to be nothing of the sort - instead, I learnt that my sequence, Speaking Raven, has won the 2013 Gloucestershire Poetry Prize (for residents of the ancestral county of Gloucestershire), courtesy Buzzwords, and so takes a final lap of honour here.    

The first part is about watching a pair of ravens flying over the Grwyne Fawr valley in the Black Mountains; the second is in the voice of the raven who, in North American mythology, created the World; and the third is a bit of one-upmanship between the Norse God Odin’s two ravens, whose names translate as Thought and Memory. 

Speaking Raven

I Grwyne Fawr

Sheep have spread their shrunken 
woollens on barbed wire fences,
wisps bleached white by winter sun
imitating lichen hung on blackthorn
twigs to dry.

Delighted by pattern
the wind sends a pair of ravens overhead. 
It thinks they sound like frogs
but to me it’s clear that they are
deep in conversation

their topic a worsening in the weather,
the move of the livestock market
from Abergavenny to Raglan.
Or so I imagine, 
not speaking raven.

II   Light-Bringer

Black with repentance?  Me?
Everything you see I created –  
these hills and rivers, those distant clouds
that might be mountains

I circled the world,
my feathers shed forests
With my beak I mined diamonds 
gritted the slippery sky

While you were blindfolded
and stumbling
I shoved the sun up the chimney
giving birth to Day

My dirt-dark laugh
regurgitates morning
Nights, I spread my wings, my iris
the tireless moon

III  Thought and Memory

Once there were gods
and we served them.  Now we are 
masters of four winds

Feathers and bone, we are the fearless,
tumbling funambulists
stepping on air

There’s more than one darkness.
We are the dark of the shortest day
falling through spring

our wings make sooty marks
across the camber of the sky

In our feathers all things are mingled.
We have four and sixty
changings of the voice.

We love to bark like happy dogs
rolling in cloud
waggling our tails

We’re not the souls of fallen soldiers.
We don’t act as omens,
foretellers of doom

Flapping rags and blackened paper,
we are debris at the edges
of the storm

Thanks to judge, David Morley, and all at Buzzwords. 

(There is a raven in the above photo, honest, it's soaring, wings outstretched, over the Dart gorge.)


  1. I love these poems and am proud to know an amazing award winning poet! X

    1. Thanks, Dawn, though I happen to think you're the amazing one, daily XXX