MAG Poetry Prize - Winners 2009

The winner of the MAG Poetry Prize 2009 was Francesca McMahon with her poem Thirteenth Birthday.

Thirteenth Birthday

She bought a dead man's cardigan,
unpicked the work and smoothed
the creased yarn into balls the size
of oranges. This was her secret.

Read the rest of the poem Thirteenth Birthday

Francesca said "I am thrilled to have won the competition. The poem was inspired by a woman I heard on the radio talking about teenagers. She described them as being, 'Without mercy.' This brought to mind a few painful episodes from my own adolescence - and I had the seeds of a poem."

Francesca is a novelist - her novel How to Marry the Dead is published by Cinnamon Press - but she has always had a keen interest in poetry. She decided to devote 2009 to writing poems.

Michele Baker took second prize with Miss Robertson. Michele is a student at the University of Chichester, studying English & Creative Writing, and wrote 'Miss Robertson' during her first year. This is the first competition she has entered.

She says, "I used to live in a flat in Brighton that really did 'overlook the playing fields of a British boarding school' where the boys played rugby. Miss Robertson was born out of that perverse sense of voyeurism I felt sitting watching them from my window on a Saturday afternoon."

The third prize went to Sharon Black for her poem Sea Glass. "The poem was inspired by a comment made by a friend of mine about someone she knew who went hunting for sea glass on the beaches in the north of Scotland. I kept thinking about this man and why he would do that, how that might feel," Sharon said.

Sharon lives in a very remote part of southern France - the Cevennes Mountains. She won first prize in the Envoi International Poetry Competition 2009 and second prize in the Norwich Writers Circle Open Poetry Competition 2009.

Just like that, a last minute entry from Tatum Dunn took fourth prize. Tatum works in HR at the Royal Academy of Dance in London. "I literally stumbled across Poetic Republic on the 30 April which was the closing date for the competition and decided to send something in. I have never done anything like this before, so I am really chuffed!" said Tatum.

"The poem is about how death can thieve a life before it's done all the wonderful things it wanted to do and how the discovery of a small fingerprint of the normal life they left behind can be so crushing," she added.

Read the other poems that reached the final shortlist of 12:

Text (I'm in Tesco)
Joan Elliott
The Cedar Forest
Tim Ellis
Our love is a filthy love
Mark Grist
Still Water
Mike Hobbs
The insignificant things
Victoria Rose Poolman
I Am Rock
Diane Simkin
The Mirror
Brynley Watkins
Still Life
Ting Hway Wong

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