Pick of the Poetry
I always used to love the Pick-n-Mix counter at Woolworths ... a veritable smorgasbord of toffees, chews, sours, liquorice, candy cigarettes, chewing nuts, cough candy twists, sherbet lemons, jawbreakers ... trust me, I could go on! Imagine, if you will, such a selection of poems ... yum!
That is an appropriate simile for the Wales Poetry Award event held on Saturday 15 February 2020 at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. Despite the weekend being menaced by storm Dennis, the event seemed very well attended (I say seemed because it's never easy to gauge how many people are in the audience when I can't actually see them); all bar one of the shortlisted poets managed to make it to Cardiff to read their entry at the mic.
It might not have been a night for promenading outdoors, but it was a privilege to take to the stage and perform at the microphone. Judge Katherine Stansfield advised that poets would be called up to read, and would be handed their book bundle prize by the new editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Jonathan Edwards. The last three poets to be called would be the three award winners ... hence there was a nervous pause after the end of each poet's performance, wondering who the next poet called would be. The email from Poetry Wales one month before the awards event was unspecific in its congratulation. Essentially it hoped the shortlisted poets would be able to attend to receive their prizes ... of course the word prize could signify one of the three awards or one of the highly commended places.
I don't know about the other shortlistees but I was counting on my fingers how many names were called and my pulse began to quicken as we passed the halfway point! ... Might I be one of the three award winners?
I was the penultimate name to be called! Number 9 of the 10 shortlisted poets. I was guided up to the mic and read my poem, ‘Refugee Piece ... Existential Jigsaw’. It was a delight to shake Jonathan's hand as he revealed that there were no hard-copy books for me ... Seren had considered my sight limitations and would send me PDF copies that my computer screen reading software would be able to read aloud for me :)
It was actually the second time I'd been at Temple of Peace on Saturday. That afternoon I went to see poet Deryn Rees-Jones read from her latest collection, Erato. That too was a lovely event, not least because I'd read Erato cover to cover in order to draft some questions for Deryn to answer for the Seren blog post supporting its publication. Hearing Deryn read her poems aloud was wonderful ... and chatting to her extensively after her reading equally so :)
I wonder if members of staff at Seren are asked about their athletic prowess before they are appointed. I was chatting to one of the Seren staff, Sarah, while waiting for my taxi home. She noticed a taxi was outside and opened the main door to see if it was mine ... just in time to see it pulling away! Not detered she shouted to me that she'd chase after it! And she must have had her running pumps on because the taxi was dragged back by the scruff of its neck! Assistance like that deserves prizes and awards galore! :)
#Seren #KatherineStansfield #TempleOfPeace #Cardiff #DerynRees-Jones #Erato