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It is 31st July at last and all the judging and deliberating has been done. The judging wasn’t easy, often the judges were not entirely unanimous about individual poems, and it often seemed a pity that they were not able to double or treble the number of runners-up. On the process of judging and the overall quality of the poetry, the judges made the following comments.

Lesley Haycock and Victoria Devaney:
The process of reading the submissions for the competition has been extremely enjoyable, challenging and difficult, all at the same time. The process required that we, as the creators of the artworks, set aside any intentions or feelings we may have had whilst painting and look at look at the images from the perspective of the poet. What inspired this particular poem? Does the poem give us a new understanding, a new insight, a new ‘feeling’ about the art work from which it evolved? In some instances this process became particularly fascinating.

Lisa Stewart:
There were so many wonderful poems and of course I can’t mention all of them. I would just like to say that it’s a been a pleasure reading your entries!

Marie Marshall:
The process of whittling it down to my favourites involved throwing aside some really excellent poetry – sometimes no more than a single word jarred in a poem and decided it for me, sometimes no more than a feeling, and that’s not to say the ones I kept are faultless. As for the top five or so, I could hardly get a ciggie paper between them!

As regards the winner, after much discussion, the judges decided to award victory to Dill Darling, for the poem ‘The Woman Who Married An Oak’, which was an interpretation of painting No.4. Here are the painting and the poem, with judges comments.

(c) Aval-Ballan

(c) Aval-Ballan

The Woman Who Married An Oak

doesn’t concern herself with the willows
whispering about the age difference.
Runs her soft fingerprints along the gnarls of his trunk
until, eyes closed, she knows his every groove.

Come the storm, anchors her naked limbs
in the tips of his branches, waits for the wind
to make of him a trapeze. Tumbles and twirls
shouting at the thunder
and daring the lightning to scorch them.

When her skin turns weather-worn
he saves a week  of summer rain,
waters her till she glistens like a newborn.

She cries when his leaves fall, mourns
the rotting of every single one (though she knows
all about love and its mini-deaths).
Quietly waits for each returning spring
to nurse and nurture each new bud, sipping hungrily
at his rising sap.

One day, he warns her, my heart will crack open.
Shh, she whispers, and explains
how she’ll climb into the hollow and beat for him
until his body is taken to be carved into a marital bed.
Then she’ll lie in it for all of her future lives,
slowly willing herself
into wood.

Lisa Stewart:
What stands out about this poem is the intricacy and imaginative thought which weaves the words into a story-like narrative. A clever blend of Metaphysical ideas and emotions engage the reader! Captivating poem! Congratulations!

Marie Marshall:
I love the magical realism of this, the altered states of being brought about by an ostensibly straightforward emotion. It’s the imagery that does it for me. I was prepared to be drawn a long way from the artwork to the poetry, but the more I stare into the painting the more I see where the imagery comes from.

Lesley Haycock and Victoria Devaney:
We were both deeply moved by  the description of an all consuming yet unconditional love as conveyed in ‘The Woman Who Married An Oak’. This powerful and hauntingly beautiful celebration of a lasting, protective, nurturing yet passionate relationship stayed with us both and occupied our thoughts long after the initial reading.

The runners-up, in alphabetical order of poet, are:

‘She Favoured Scottish Thistle’ by Toni Christman.

‘Teasels’ by Roger Elkin.

‘Under the tree’ by Deborah Emmet.

‘In The Sepia Sky’ by James Gillick.

‘Day By Day They Unfold Their Secrets’ by Geoffrey Heptonstall.

‘Seedling’ by Joanna Jones.

‘Rhaeadr’ by Anna Kisby.

‘Umbellifrae’ by Simon Miller.

‘The Land of Teal’ by Ina Schroders-Zeeders.

‘The Hand Wants To Know’ by Sam Smith.

‘The Teazle Song’ by Jane Wheble.

These poems will be presented on-a-day on this web site, so that everyone can read them. To all entrants, thank you very much for your entries, all of which gave the judges much pleasure and many problems in deciding which ones to leave out of the ‘long list’.