There were some great entries for this year's Edgeworth Festival Poetry Competiton - Professor Iggy McGovern was adjudicator and picked out three excellent examples as prizse winners. Below are the three winners
Ist Prize Paul Nash 'The Night Train Steward'
THE NIGHT TRAINSTEWARD
With fading bruises of LOVE and HATE, hands
Out of one Purgatory woke me in mine
With a breakfast tray, dawn's jolting demands
Clanking into place down the Euston line.
So the first lone night on the wrong track ended,
Childhood commons now another place,
Our Eden lost, divided, undefended,
Strange labelled fingers spelling out disgrace.
The steel future snaked on to infinity,
A mocking theorem of parallels
Proving indelibly our routes were one,
His sentence in the past and mine begun -
To watch the heavens sweep by our chosen cells,
And get off with a small case of dignity.
2nd Prize Doireann Ní Ghriofa 'Maude Enthralled'
(i) Morning in 1877, little Maude Delap, seventh of ten,
is running on the damp-dark strand of Valentia
island again, laughing backwards at a brother,
braids flying in the wind, until she skids. Sudden
in the sand, a jelly-bell, a lump of glue-gunk spiked
with ink, tentacles trailing from a fleshy pink.
She is reaching for its plump ripples, but her siblings
tug her back, screeching No, Maude, no, it stings!
(ii) Afternoon Grown, Maude rows a boat out on the ocean alone.
Alone. When she peers through glass it is into a deeper
dark, telescoped. She sees through waves to a world of
hover and float, of swim and flit and gilled throats.
. Oars float where Maudetits over the boat's lip, peering
past conger and pollack, ling and dogfish, until she glimpses
her beloved bell and tentacle. A jigsaw, this riddle, adrift.
A cloud tumbled down, a blown shroud, an umbrella,
Cinderella's ballgown. It sucks up handfuls of itself,
then releases, alone float. Alone, afloat, Maude watches
its lesson in the art of clasp and let go.
(iii) Evening All afternoon, Maude is dredging, fixing nets, scribbling
notes to herself on experiments. Then home again, fizzing
air into aquaria, frothing drops through jars of jellyfish.
Her shelves heave with this exhibition of spin and dip, all her
specimens hovering in Saline fizz. Clotted blooms, globules
streaked with Crimsons and blues, they cannot hurt her
as words do. Father said "No daughter of mine will leave
home, except as a married woman." Maude knows the
etymology of captivate, how it holds both charm and a cage.
(iv) Night Even after nightfall, they gnaw at Maude, they call and call,
until she rises, rubbing her eyes. Through the gloom, she moves
in her frayed nightdress, her bare feet pale. She grips a candlestick,
arthritic fingers sheltering the flame. Maude finds herself at her
treasures, in awe again: how strange, that a life may come and go
until one night you find yourself alone, with only a wall of jellyfish
and boxfuls of notes. Her face is mirrored in the bell jars now, aged,
changed. Maud is alone, afloat again. Are they there, still, her jellyfish?
Or have they perished too, into Copperplate curlicues? The liquid
evaporates to silt, the jarstilt, and the jellyfish leave Maude in the dark,
lifting her fingers to imagined glass, the glass that always separated her
from the dance. Maude, Maude, barefoot, enthralled.
3rd Prize Evan Costigan ''Simplex No.15,604'
The countryside flashes past in a blaze
of branches and Friesians roaming trackside fields,
as I turn another page in the week-old newspaper
(retrospective reading, one of my phases).
Opposite exactitudes of high tides and moon times,
crossword of the day, ten clues ticked off already.
In rows and ladders of words, his capital letters.
But my father doesn't do crosswords. He drives
stakes to darker earth with blows from a sledge,
splits logs without care for sharpening an axe,
pulls sheep double their field weight from ditches.
I stare again. Hard to acknowledge.
10 Across: Piece of luggage (8). SUITCASE,
the U Sturdy as a two-pronged pitchfork.
No surprise he didn't get Greek god of the west
wind (6), or Mythical sister with snakes
for hair (6), but how the hell did he miss
25 Down: Loud cry of a bull (6)? I take up a pen.
19 Down: Expanse of scenery (9). LANDSCAPE
I enter, intersecting his N of NEVER, S
of STRAP, E of WEEDED. The white cells
fill with letters, though I never finish.
Outside, the streaking greenslows to a stop.
Folding the pages in on themselves,
I change trains at Limerick Junction and see
I've missed my mother's call. Our carriage
rolls back, jolts forward - onto four years
of higher learning. Still it stumps me:
how he missed the loud cry of a bull,
I'll never know.