Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Barbershop Banter

by jamie shaw

He’s standing amongst the piled offcuts 
of unfashionable white-boy dreads
 and the tangled remains of nerdy fuzz-ball heads.
He’s draped in a tent of black polyester,
exuding the prefabricated pheromones
of  his two dollar hound dog cologne.
Nick the barber is chewing haircut fat
while he clear-fells my sweaty bristled neck.
‘So, a writer huh – what you write? Books?’
Chuckling softly, he starts gently nuzzling up
nice and close, under my left ear
with a long sweeping  carve of his cut-throat razor.
‘You write about yourself do you?’
waving the blade threateningly
close to my exposed piggy’s throat.
‘You know’ He bares his big square teeth,
‘If I wrote, I’d only write stuff about me.
Make myself famous and all that.’
I want to roll my eyes and wonder what he’s done
among the chit-chat of his barbershop life
to warrant the extensive autobiography.
But fuck it - I’m the sad, sneaky bastard
pinching a poem from his saccharin perssona
having just escaped two weeks in a drunken coma.

Added: 11.02.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


An interesting idea to do with the writing of poetry but not as successful as it could have been, editing needed.


Very good - a nice snapshot of a scene there.


Loved the 'nerdy fuzzball heads', 'prefabricated pheromones' and 'exposed piggy's throat'. Enjoyed the idea of poet as predator. We all are


Engaging narrative. Liked immediacy and honesty of this- narrator's initial arrogance. Good use of detail and direct speech.