MAG Poetry Competition 2010 – winning and shortlisted poets

The winner of the MAG Poetry Prize 2010 was Francesca McMahon with her poem Honey Traps.

Honey Traps

Then our mother found herself
abandoned in the fallow years
of schools, church halls, playgrounds,
swimming pools. Her sons...

Read the rest of the poem Honey Traps

Francesca said "Honey Traps is really a poem about time. I wrote it because I see people rushing through life, eager to get to the future, without considering that the years they are rushing through might turn out to be the best ones."

Francesca lives in Old Harlow, Essex. She also won the MAG Poetry Prize 2009 and has since devoted more time to poetry. She is also a novelist - her novel How to Marry the Dead is published by Cinnamon Press.

Anthony Stevens took second prize with Bus Stop. He says "Bus stop was written whilst staying with my parents on the council estate (in Scotland) where I was brought up. It was about condensing down every observation of human behaviour from the many bus journeys I had taken as a teenager and young man into the city centre and the trials that had to be undergone to get there to experience the freedom that the city offered."

Anthony now lives in Brighton and works in social housing as a Scheme Manager. He takes part in a writing group "Revolutionary Learning Circle" and his writing is influenced by Nichiren Buddhism.

The third prize went to Joanna Humm for her poem Sea Story. "The poem, inspired by folk tales and sea lore, is about a girl who throws herself in to the sea from despair, only to find revival and redemption in the court of a mythical sea kingdom. When the kingdom collapses under revolt, the girl is inevitably reclaimed by despair and the sea" says Joanna, adding "the story arrived complete in my head one wild winter's evening."

Joanna lives in Borough, London. She is completing her first novel. She says "when in despair of the novel I concoct poetry."

Life goes on by Emma Stapleton took fourth prize. Emma is an ENT surgeon in Sheffield. She says "I tried to describe the way that life-changing events are part of everyday work in hospital."

This is the first competition she has entered. About the competition she said "I really enjoyed reading and judging the entries, the topics were clearly close to the authors' hearts, and it was evident that a lot of soul had been put into writing them. The poems I particularly admired were those which appeared simple and effortless, yet described complex situations beautifully."

The other poems that reached the final shortlist of 12 were:

In My Pocket by Cheryl Carman. Cheryl is about to finish a part-time MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development at Sussex University. She says “In My Pocket actually started life as a dream.” She has two readings of her own poem, one being “It's a metaphor for the writer's creativity which she's trying to keep alive," the other being "the more literal and somewhat nightmarish reading of a mentally unstable woman wandering the streets at night with an actual foetus in her pocket!"

Kelpie by Gareth Roberts. The Kelpie is a river demon which haunts the wilder corners of the Scottish Highlands. Gareth says "My favourite poetic era is the early to mid 20th century with poets such as DH Lawrence, Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Thomas and up to Hughes."

Exit by Ian Aitken. "Exit began at a cafe table in a museum whilst watching my children and their grandparents take on the 'gallery shop'." Ian is a Church of Scotland minister and has taken up poetry, both reading and writing, as a more serious hobby over the last couple of years.

Siesta and My Parents' Bedroom both by Sharon Black. Sharon is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the remote Cévennes mountains of southern France, where she organises holiday courses that include creative writing. In 2009 she won The New Writer Competition for Best Single Poem and also the Envoi prize. She was short-listed for the Plough Prize in the same year and has been short-listed three times for the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award. She gives the background to Siesta "There’s nothing better during the heat of the day in this part of the world than blobbing out with a book for a couple of hours while the world slows down almost to a halt around you. Even the trees can barely muster the energy to move their leaves at any breeze wafting off-course in their direction. This poem was written in response to that."

Becoming Whole by Shona Albouy. Shona has recently set up a writing and translation business with her husband in France. She explains "I actually wrote this poem over 20 years ago when I was a student! Having stumbled across the MAG poetry competition I dug out my dusty box of old poems and this one stood out in the sense that it was as relevant to me today as it was then." She adds "when I got the news that my poem had been shortlisted I had a wave of creativity and have since written a dozen or so new poems which are the best I've ever written."

The Theft by Stephen Brown.

Escape by Victoria Rose Poolman. Victoria is a freelance writer from Eversley in Hampshire. She has completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Loughborough University. "Escape was inspired by my grandmother, who made a valiant attempt to flee the confines of her nursing home by thwarting two security systems and heading out into the January snow. Unlike the lady in the poem, she survived the venture and thus became the local hero (she has since been relocated to the top floor)."

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