April 2010

InPrint poet wins Norwich competition

Posted by Tim Lenton on 27 April 2010 at 12:55 in Journal

Tags: fire hilary mellon norwich poem

The competition anthology View image

InPrint poet Tim Lenton has won first prize in the Norwich Writers' Circle's 39th Open Poetry Competition. Tim beat more than 600 entries from all over the country and beyond to convince judge Hilary Mellon that his Failing Fire deserved the £20 top prize. He read the poem at the prizegiving on April 20, a report of which can be seen (with pictures) at the Norwich Writers' Circle website. Three other of Tim's poems were highly commended and appear with more than 60 other poems in the competition anthology.

Tim said: "I was amazed and honoured to win. I like this competition and have had some success in previous years, but I certainly did not expect this. I admire Hilary's poetry and am delighted that she chose me as the winner this year.

"The poem was sparked (almost, but not quite literally) by gazing into an open fire in our living room on one of those January days that never seem to get going. Then my wife and I paid a visit to North Walsham cemetery, where her parents and sister are buried – a beautiful place that can be very cold, because it's on a hill – and that gave me the final idea. Underneath it all is the spark of life, which can be so fragile, but so fierce too."

The anthology can be purchased through the Norwich Writers website. Here is the winning poem:


In these soft, grey, collapsing January days
where dawn and dusk meet on main street at noon
too weak, too low to draw their weapons

and life seeps away
like air from a pricked balloon,

the fire fails:
faint flames lick the edges
of lime logs, traces of orange
in the colluding coals

There was a blaze here once,
not quite a furnace –
no iron forged, no tons of nails for tall adventuring ships –
but enough to warm a visitor or two

You held out your hands sometimes and felt
some subtle change in temperature

Now I close one eye as I write:
mist spills uneasily out of my dreams,
dancing through my bones,
piercing or tickling my spirit

interrupting the invisible sun
while a cold wind across the cemetery
digs deeper

keeping the fire going
or putting it out

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