2015 Poetry d’Amour Contest Winners

 Contest Judges’ Comments

It has been my great pleasure to judge the 2015 Poetry d’Amour Love Poetry Contest. Many thanks to all those who submitted poetry to the contest, and with 236 entries it certainly was not an easy task to find the winning, commended and runner up poems. However, a winner must be chosen and there were a couple of standout entries. Love is a subject that is much written about and the challenge of the poet is to find new ways of saying old truths. The poems that stood out were able to show rather than tell, offered a fresh approach to an old story, and were able to maintain some burden of mystery; that is they did not attempt to answer all questions with trite or predictable endings, but offered an element of surprise and imaginative originality.

The winning poem is probably an unusual choice in that it is quite a short poem. But this poem really stood out for its stark beauty and powerfully appropriate use of metaphor. By using the metaphor of the trees ‘holding blue eggs of ice in their hands’, and the simple but strong ending ‘how cold it’s been’ the writer invokes a desolation and sense of loss with so few words. This poem is like a clenched fist unfurling upon the page, to slap the reader with a blast of cold air and longing. The winning poem is ‘I Want To Send You’ by Jaya Penelope.

The overall runner up also stood out for its attention to form and strong metaphors; ‘the chrysalis/we split by clasping hands’; and for its description of love that has endured, ‘as if dropping years of coins into a money box’. It speaks concisely of love that is solid, affirmative and bountiful. I will hand it to you and say: feel this weight; look how we’ve grown’, yet remains ‘fresh as in butterflies, just like the first time’. The joy of the conclusion – at once concise and expansive, enables this poem to allude to the experience that cannot be captured by words and that the poet courts as a lover. The overall runner up is ‘Repeat’ by Anna Ryan-Punch.

The two highly commended: Autumn at the Cidery’ by Renee Pettitt-Schipp is a beautifully described moment in time that poet ‘cannot own’. A quiet afternoon with a person they love, thinking about the idea of ‘perfection’ the poet describes being stunned and persuaded by the wind drifts of typha seeds. Again an original and totally personal reflection of an aspect of love. ‘The Bridge of Birds’ by Jaya Penelope, speaks to the impossibility of the romantic ideal and the often momentary nature of the feeling of connection. The ‘yawning hallway’ separating love and the word, drifting across like a feather are evocative images that describe well the, ‘impossible metaphor’.

Commended: ‘When She Was Well’ by Rose van Son, uses cooking and particular dishes as a way of describing the depth of a long term relationship and domesticity, with some lovely images such as ‘the kitchen table barely strong enough to hold his arms around her’, and, ‘flowered tarragon to his lips her taste held on his tongue’. The rhythmic quality of the poem, enables the reader to entreat the senses and perceive the loving relationship.

‘Anniversary’ by Gail Willems, has a great sense of rhythm and form and uses original language such as ‘ In this light the canvas of skin has collapsed / the tent of your bones’, and ‘we fall into and out of each other / there is a separation between knowing and dreaming //. This piece expresses the mystery of love as something that cannot be pinned down, it is ‘un-photographable’.

Greenhouse Realty Mandurah Award for the Peel Region: ‘Under the Orange Tree’ by Gail Willems. This poem takes the reader on a sensual journey, traversing time, in particular a Sunday that ‘rises’ and ‘falls’ evoking the sacred and transgression. As well as this the reader encounters landscape, ‘at noon the choir of orange swung across the hillside’ as well as the body and longing, ‘the song of lust knew its way to stars’. The lyrical composition of this poem lends itself to the romantic and could easily have been lost to a saccharine ideal but the last line hooks a solid punch the lifts the reader to a delicious satisfaction.

Remote and Regional WA Winner:  ‘Did I Disturb You?’ by louisa. This poem uses the architecture of the everyday to compose a scene of tenderness beyond the immediacy of love. The poem at first seems to be about the suffering of the loved one, ‘The cord to your voice was broken’, and become a homage to a different kind of love – that of the one who suffers in waiting to be able to love, ‘I sat quietly on a stiff wooden chair’. A pleasure in love, forestalled, is also a type of offering and seduction.

Youth Incentive Award: ‘Persephone’ by Audrey El-Osta. This poem is perfectly situated in the transition between maidenhood and womanhood and uses the myth to be able to speak a truth of modern feminine experience; ‘young lessons have been learnt, pleasure is no stranger’. Dividing the story between the seasons, not only respects the form of the original mythology but allows the reader to travel with the young ‘demigoddess’ as she brings ‘back maiden grace to her garden’. The poem is playful, immediate and sensual – exactly as the winner of the youth section should be.

Nandi Chinna

First Prize

“I Want To Send You” by Jaya Penelope

Second Prize

“Repeat” by Anna Ryan-Punch

Highly Commended

“Autumn At The Cidery” by Renee Pettitt-Schipp

“The Bridge Of Birds” by Jaya Penelope

Commended

“Anniversary” by Gail Willems

“When She Was Well” by Rose van Son

Greenhouse Realty Mandurah Award for the Peel Region

“Under The Orange Trees” by Gail Willems

Remote and Regional WA Winner

“Did I Disturb You?” by louisa (Louise House)

Youth Incentive Award

“Persephone” by Audrey El-Osta

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First Prize

I Want To Send You

this photograph of me

knee deep in snow by a frozen river.

See how the trees hold blue

eggs of ice in their aching hands?

How far I’ve come from that summer

of salt we woke wearing

each other’s faces

how cold it’s been?

Jaya Penelope

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Second Prize

Repeat

It’s everything I’ve already said

Repetition of words and looks

that doesn’t wear such gifts thin

but etches each more deeply:

like the constant love of water

carves liquid memory  into rock.

Your years have lived you along

to this day: parallel until our

perspectives met at the horizon.

You are so young to my eyes,

still damp from the chrysalis

we split by clasping hands.

Each of these words I will say again

as if dropping years of coins

into a money box. I will hand it

to you and say: feel this weight;

look how we’ve grown.

Our arms linked tight. Look, and how.

It’s everything I’ve already said, and yet:

butterflies, just like the first time.

Anna Ryan-Punch

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Highly Commended

Autumn At The Cidery

autumn

we don’t own it

the way the sun is sleeping

in the leaves

sky boasting again about colour

and our love like a clear note

just sung

we sit with all this

and our tenderness curls like

a full-bellied cat

gaze turned outward toward the river-gums

where dragonflies move like laughter

and butterflies descend

in slow sentences

and I am just about to think

perhaps there is perfection

only not sustained

more like flashes

of pure white light

when seeds

soft stars

begin

falling

falling

constellations

earth bound

and shining

stunned in our seats

lulled by pale ale

pacified by their gentle persuasion

we let it happen

a landscape taken by siege

the bulrushes

floating invasion.

Renee Pettitt-Schipp

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Highly Commended

The Bridge Of Birds

The days when you stay

in your room and I in mine

the hallway yawns between us

Weeks I tear my sheets to strips

weave swaying ladders of hair

send one word floating like a feather

Whole months we do not look into

each other’s eyes, not even as we lick

the salt from each other’s skin

Then, one night of the year the skies clear

and we reach for each other, one night

which could be any night the air is thick

with a flurry of feathers

wingtip to wingtip we span the spaces

between us, step lightly onto the back

of this impossible metaphor

meet for a moment on

the bridge of birds.

Jaya Penelope

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Commended

Anniversary

In this light the canvas of skin has collapsed / the tent of your bones

a verandah door has unmade your height / I’ll forget to notice

what language we use / the journey // you take a moment to breathe

half way up the track /a backdrop of ocean spindrift / Dampier’s rose

listens to the waves / a beautiful noise  measures distance

weaken me with your smile /  hold out your hand

claim the space between my fingers / stroll hand in hand

marking a tempo / sensing winter’s edge // your heart will circle

sever shadows at random / your kiss will hold the door open

we fall into and out of each other / there is a separation

between knowing and dreaming // tonight I’ll watch you sleep

trace pencil lead veins in your wrist / my fingerprints will imprint patterns

you / unphotographable

Gail Willems

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Commended

When She Was Well

When she was well, they made

ravioli, the table spread with little pillows

parcelled beef and herbs, spinach

cottage cheese, creamed pumpkin

to fill the cone rolled off her tongue

a little nutmeg, just enough

to hold the light, she said

was all she wanted

her gift for him

chicken spiced with tarragon

rolled and pinched, the spinach

squeezed          just long enough

to let green juices soak

the life that slips through squares

the kitchen table

barely strong enough

to hold his arms around her

as she leaned his way as best she could.

Remember me, she said, when she was well

her fingers greased to pinch those little pillows

her face to his and when the water boils

and bubbles rise as soon they must, breathe air

that gap between the water’s pull

and lid, when strength takes all

those little pillows dropping in

take gasp, at first a shallow breath

but soon they swell     they float

her smile as he scoops them in

her dimpled skin, aware of light

from light, burnt butter spread

flowered tarragon to his lips

her taste held on his tongue

Rose van Son    

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Greenhouse Realty Mandurah Award for the Peel Region

Under The Orange Trees

the stones that I throw are picked up by the music of strings

in the sanctuary    Sunday rose from its bed of weeds

at noon the choir of orange swung across the hillside

scents sear in brilliant lines of fire    the naked form of you

under summer’s long days tingles the air

the perfume of a weighty roundness

gets me all confused    leaves me damp

reaching for you

the song of lust knew its way to stars

where night tethered itself to sky    the half-cast eye of a moon

lent dream filled nights the illusion of time

Sunday fades through a gate left ajar

I palm an orange    suck it dry

Gail Willems

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Remote and Regional WA Winner

Did I disturb you?

Did I disturb you,

Tiptoeing around your heart?

It was dark

And seemed cold.

The cord to your voice was broken.

It looked like vandalism.

The guttering of your tears

Was rusty – full of holes.

I sat quietly on a stiff wooden chair

Outside those metal doors.

I could smell the acrid fumes of welding.

Recent smoke.

I lit a fragrant candle.

I have my needle, thread and polishing rags,

I will wait.

louisa

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Youth Incentive Award

. Persephone

In summer Korei begins her time to bloom:

adolescent demigoddess grows quick with the moon,

learning slowly about men and women.

She sits alone and plays with her pearled oyster,

looking at ikones of Afroditi, touching her statues,

so beautiful, beautiful.

Her young lessons have been learnt, pleasure

is no stranger, not to young Korei.

In autumn Korei feels a change in her.

Innocent playtime now a ravenous hunger;

She patrols her domaine hunting as her thea

Artemis taught her, though not for wild stag.

She sees Hades above ground, and marks her prey,

strips her girdle free and leaves it in the garden:

For what she wants, she won’t need it.

In winter, Korei knows her truth now.

Not a maiden anymore but a woman, a seductress

and underworld empress, a destroyer: let mortals

suffer my drought, I will get what I want.

Hades is my dark prince of chrome silver skin, cobalt eyes

stare into mine, loving every moment of my wild ride, hands

that tenderly guide the departed grip my hips with ravishing vigour.

Pleasure courses through the two gods,

earth shakes, nearly breaks to screams and whispers of

I love that, I love you.

In spring, Persephone rises, visiting the earth

and bringing back maiden grace to her garden

of youth. She finds nymphs and teaches them all

she learnt while she frolicked and fucked

in the underworld. Screams and giggles abound

as young maidens are women made

in the school of Persephone’s touch.

Audrey El-Osta

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