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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Our warm thanks to Lisa Frank and John Walsh of Doire Press who judged both our Flash Fiction and poetry competitions this year. 

Entries to the 2017 writing competitions from Ireland, the UK, France, Canada, the USA, South America and Hong Kong. 

Winning Entires - Poetry:

1st Prize 'Sea Watch' by Edel Burke (Ireland) 

2nd Prize 'Crow out the window' by Jeremy Halinen (USA)

3rd Prize 'Wild Swimming' by Lani O'Hanlon (Ireland) 

Highly Commended Poems:
Potadoireacht na Caoloige - Louis Mulcahy (Ireland) 
The Birds of Errislannan - Robert Childers (Ireland) 
Harvest - Anne Cousins (Ireland) 
At the Altar with my Father - Breda Spaight (Ireland) 

1st Prize 'Sea Watch' by Edel Burke

Sea Watch

As children we made waves with a rope, 
stood at either end, arms up and down 
in equal rhythm, watched the rise and fall 
move from one end to the other. 
Though it was dark, when we heard 
the lapping sound, we were not afraid, 
we knew waves, the crest and trough. 
But we never knew spindrift, 
the cold sting, how the wind can change, 
whip white horses and fear into a night. 
We were at least one hundred, 
twelve children and a newborn, held 
in an open duffle on the mother’s lap.
Six hours before we saw light, the boat low, 
people prayed their last prayers. 
Already, some of us in the water, 
instructions on a megaphone, gave us calm. 
The last thing I saw,
a baby bottle, still full of milk, floating.

Edel Burke lives in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Her writing has been published in Something About Home, New Writing on Migration and Belonging, 2017 and Crannóg 45, Rush Anthology, 2017, Boyne Berries 22-The Ledwidge Issue. She was highly commended iYeats Poetry Competition 2017, shortlisted for Rush Poetry Prize and long listed for Dermot Healy Poetry Award 2017, Fish Poetry Prize, 2017 and Bray Literary Festival, poetry and flash fiction 2017. She is currently long listed for short story, Over the Edge, New Writer 2017, was previously long listed for poetry 2016 and her short story highly commended, 2014. 

Judges Comments
"This poem begins with a beautiful idyllic image and then very gradually unfolds into the reality of a nightmare experience, leaving the reader in an almost state of shock. By the time the reader realises who the ‘we’ of the poem are, the image of childhood has morphed 
into the picture of Mediterranean refugees in ‘the boat low’. The language is simple and direct, unsentimental, almost as chilling as ‘the cold sting’ of the ‘spindrift’. The haunting image of the last line stays with the reader long after the poem itself has faded out. A masterful poem."

2nd Prize 'Crow out the window' by Jeremy Halinen

Crow Out the Window
for Emily Dickinson

Do you notice
the crow watching
you from the sycamore,
that it never caws
with open beak
and its eyes
are always closed,
that the sycamore
was not there
last night?
When tomorrow
the crow flies off
without its wings,
there will be no tree left,
but you don’t know this yet.
I can’t forget you when
the wind blasts into me
like the last words
you told me.
I only appear
to be a crow now
and don’t suppose you
can see these feathers
when you look my way,
but if anyone
in your house
can, it’s you.
Who gave you
that black feather
on your desk? 

Jeremy Halinen's first full-length collection of poems, What Other Choice, was selected by Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken as winner of the 2010 Exquisite Disarray First Book Poetry Contest. His poems have appeared in such journals as Cimarron Review, Court Green, Crab Creek Review, the Los Angeles Review, Poet Lore, and Sentence. He is cofounder and former coeditor of Knockout Literary Magazine.

Judges Comments

This is a poem of perception and contradiction: nothing is really what it seems. There is a sense of mystery, a hint of dread in the wonderfully short lines (only two lines in the poem have six words). The relationship between the ‘you’, the ‘I’, and ‘the crow’ is purposely hard to define but we have the sense of an intertwining of fates.

‘that black feather / on your desk’ is a powerful closing image.

We cannot say that we are sure we fully understand this poem, but somehow that seems to be the way it is meant to be.

3rd Prize 'Wild Swimming' by Lani O'Hanlon


The women go swimming at dawn
in Glencairn, Ballyquin or Goat Island;
Mary, Judy, Charlotte, Sharon, Gay, 
sea wind on flushed sleepy skin
cold slap of the waves.

Afterwards the women drink African coffee
warm and spicy. Spray each other
with geranium, rose and juniper oil.

Lemon air peels over bodies
that have given birth, made milk,
bled over and over, charged and depleted
with tides of moon and wave
the constant pull and push

in a world that never suited them anyway.

Now this giving in to flesh and bone,
tide and wind. Every morning 
the women gather on the wet sand
and they run, whooping, into the waves.  

Lani O'Hanlon's work has been published in literary journals internationally including: Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Mslexia, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Moth. She is a regular contributor to RTE's Sunday Miscellany. Her poetry chapbook, The Little Theatre was launched by Poet and Editor Thomas McCarthy, in 2017, and was funded by Artlinks. She is currently working towards a first poetry collection and completing a first novel. 


Judges Comments

"There is a great charge of energy, feminine energy in ‘Wild Swimming’, an appreciation of all things ‘women’. There is sensuousness in the spicy ‘African coffee’, the sprays of ‘juniper oil’. And the magnificent grand finale of the women running ‘whooping, into the waves.’ is perfection itself. A poem to read again and again."

Highly Commended Poems:
Potadoireacht na Caoloige - Louis Mulcahy (Ireland) 
The Birds of Errislannan - Robert Childers (Ireland) 
Harvest - Anne Cousins (Ireland) 
At the Altar with my Father - Breda Spaight (Ireland)


Judges Comments on the Highly Commended Poems

"The four Highly Commended poems deal skilfully with themes of death, ‘women’s lot’, the twisting of ropes and traditions. Each hard-hitting in its own right, the mysterious ‘communion’ between the mare and the narrator in ‘At the Altar with my father’ is most striking."