MAG Poetry Competition 2011 - winning and shortlisted poets

The winner of the MAG Poetry Prize 2011 was Francesca McMahon with her poem Ruby and Me at Baby Clinic.

Ruby and Me at Baby Clinic

We dig an escape route
underneath the sink,
tunnel across the road,
fetch up in the...

Read the rest of the poem Ruby and Me at Baby Clinic

Francesca said "It is a tremendous honour, and a huge shock, to have won the prize for the third year running. I wrote Ruby and Me at Baby Clinic about a time in my life when I felt out of my depth. I think it applies to any situation in which you see other people appearing to be in control while you are doing the silent scream in your head. I love the competition and it is wonderful to see it going from strength to strength. The entries are more numerous, the prize fund gets bigger, but the pleasure of having a dozen unknown poems to judge never changes. However, after three years I think it is time I 'retired' and let someone else experience the joy of winning. I intend to use some of my prize money to publish a chapbook of my poems that I can sell to raise funds for charity."

Francesca lives in Old Harlow, Essex. She also won the MAG Poetry Prize in 2010 and 2009. She is also a novelist - her novel How to Marry the Dead is published by Cinnamon Press.

Clare Foges took second prize with Bank Holiday. Clare lives and works in London. This is her first competition. She says "I so enjoyed reading other people's poems and I'm chuffed they liked mine. I was thinking about a childhood trip to a military show - me and my siblings wet and ungrateful in our yellow macs. The thought skipped to rainy piers... and this poem popped out."

The third prize went to Suzanne Schenk for her poem The Hook. Suzanne says: "I live in Toronto, Canada and spend the majority of my time managing a popular restaurant. I studied film and screenwriting in college but have recently found that my preferred writing platforms are poetry and short stories. The MAG poetry competition was the first time I have received acknowledgement for my work and I couldn't be more thrilled about it!"

One last request by Rob Wetton took fourth prize. Rob is a law student in Australia. He is also the founder and president of IMCOLOURBLIND Incorporated, a charity working to develop inclusivity and counter racial discrimination. Rob says "I am passionate about writing poetry. It is more than a mere hobby. It is a precious time when I hand complete sovereignty over to my soul."

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

House Hunt by Marianne MacRae. Marianne says, "House Hunt was born while I was away from work for a few months with a mystery illness. I was watching 'Escape to the Country' pretty much every single day (a weird, absorbing obsession I've only recently managed to throw off), marvelling at how specific and idiotic people can be about their dream house. I was also in pain, dehydrated and reading Wuthering Heights, so...?"

"I have been shortlisted twice for the Bridport Prize for poetry and have pieces printed in several publications. In September I will begin my MSc at the University of Edinburgh, where I am a recipient of the William Hunter Sharp memorial award for creative writing."

When We Lived in the Trees by Sion Rickard. Sion is 18 years old and lives in Snowdonia, North Wales. He is an actor and a musician. "As well as poetry I enjoy writing songs and play scripts. I sing and play various instruments in the band 'Naughty Magic Simon'. I will be starting a three year BA in Actor Musicianship at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance this September."

Sion says "when I wrote the poem, I had in mind someone looking back on a long term, but now failing relationship. However, I hope that the poem also reflects life's changes in general; and of course, the reader may take from it what they will."

Gaza in June by Phil Billing. Phil lived in Israel from 2002-2008, serving as Principal of the Anglican International School, Jerusalem. "During the Second Intifada, the school was one of only a handful of spaces in the city where Jew and Arab, Christian and Muslim could come together. At this time, I wrote a series of poems around the conflict. Gaza in June arose from singular moments of highly intensified clarity: lying on the beach in Tel Aviv among holidaymakers, surfers, ice-cream vendors... and seeing helicopter gunships flying low and south towards Gaza; jogging through Sachar Park in Jerusalem and hearing the chilling, city-muffled boom of a bus bomb exploding (just 400 metres from my school)."

Phil currently lives in Ukraine with his wife, Ruth. They will shortly be moving to Beijing, China. In November 2007, Phil ran the 100 Mile Himalayan Stage Race.

Sonnet by John Wood. John says, "Allen Upward's Imagiste poem set me on an interesting thought path about 'truth', beliefs and imagination. Taking part in the MAG Poetry Prize has been a pleasure and an education. It has been exciting to have a poem short-listed and to have had a chance to read and be read by so many like-minded poets."

John is skipper of a small passenger ferry in Cornwall. He has had work published in Acumen, Popshot and the Pentewan Village Charity Cook Book.

Old Gold by Rachel Irven. She says, "I am living in West Somerset now and have enjoyed writing for many years. The idea for Old Gold came from a stimulus at a U3A creative writing group. We had to write about a ring - the old ring and its story just came into my head. I enjoy reading poetry. My favourite poets include RS Thomas, Yeats, Dylan Thomas as well as Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay."

Throwing Apples at the sky by Bernard Brooks. Bernie says "this poem is dedicated to my friend and brother in law who died of cancer in 2009 and to the wife and young daughter he left behind. It marks various transitions: the loss of childhood innocence, becoming single again, the mid-life realisation of mortality and of course death itself."

Bernie recently returned to writing poetry after a gap of 25 years. He graduated in English Lit. from UEA. He lives in rural East Sussex where amongst other things he rears alpacas, ducks, chickens and turkeys.

Echoes of You by Kriss Nichol. Kriss says, "I've always been interested in resonances, the things that stay with you or are left behind after the original stimulus has disappeared, and Echoes of You is representative of that; in this case, after the end of a relationship."

"I have an MA in Creative Writing, have written 2 novels, been shortlisted by Radio 4, and had several poems and prose published in small press magazines. I run a writers' group and in March my short story entry was awarded third prize in the Scottish Writers' Centre competition."

Tahrir Square by Karen McGonnell Burrows. She says, "Tahrir Square is an exploration of the power of the social network and its utilisation for the purposes of truth or propaganda, on both a personal and global scale. Observe the individual versus the group, publicity versus privacy, reality versus fantasy."

"I hope Tahrir Square speaks to many people on many levels, and should remain open for personal interpretation. Although intensely sad on a personal level, the poem reflects the honesty of a life lived purposefully. Dedicated to the memory of my brother, the artist James Kieran McGonnell, who died quietly in snowy Chicago, 11th January 2011."

Originally from Ireland, Karen McGonnell Burrows lives privately on the Aberdeenshire coast, "with her beloved King and three Princesses."

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