Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2020 Winners
Welcome to the Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 Collection. For the first time the Archive opened its doors wide to poets from around the world. Our mission was to create a new collection of poets' voices in response to this year...little did we know quite how extraordinary this year would be!
This Collection has selected 20 poets to represent what is a stunning, international collection of poets' work. Imtiaz Dharker, our Chair of judges says 'these poems blew into the Archive like a breath of fresh air from all over the world - as if doors and windows have been thrown open to voices that will enrich the Poetry Archive and the conversation between poets and audiences that continues across time'.
by Nicholas McGaughey
by Oje Taiye
Growing up in Nigeria, I had to listen to the horrors/trauma that victims of domestic violence (especially women) had to live through. And in some unexplainable way, those horrific experiences have become a part of my own childhood memory. The poem is a persona narrative that I move through to beckon the history of violence against women in the Nigerian polity.
by Kathy Pimlott
I've been taking amateur photographs during my daily exercise walks round the very central London streets where I live. I began with images of the strangely empty streets but, as time has gone on, have become more and more focused on details - letter boxes have become an obsession. I've shared the photos on social media where they seem to have offered some odd reassurance to people - maybe to do with continuity or enduring craft.
by Carmina Masoliver
by Genevieve Carver
I'm somebody who worries a lot about little things and about big things that I'll never be able to change. I think the more 'connected' we become by technology and the more information becomes available to us, the more overwhelming it can be. Sometimes I feel like the little worry dolls in the poem, unable to bear the weight of all the worries in the world.
by Maggie Mackay
My poem is inspired by my mother, her strength and wisdom. She is not here to witness the pandemic but her voice tells me to keep faith and believe that science and its wonders will break through to an answer, not unlike the miracle that is the distilling of whisky, the water of life.
by Mary-Jane Holmes
This is the third, most positive poem in a series of lockdown poems I have been writing to investigate the emotions that this moment in time has brought. I am lucky to live on an isolated moor where I can walk freely and watch the natural world get on with living and this has been my inspiration. I was also inspired by Seneca's letters to Lucilius, particularly 'On the futility of planning ahead'.
by Ankh Spice
I'm lucky to be married to a wonderful writer and human being who happens to be a trans woman. I wrote 'New Cloth' as an unrepentant love poem, in answer to the bigotry and anti-trans sentiment that persists. The distress this causes trans people is immense. I wanted to write a poem that gave people who had perhaps given up on love a clear message that it does exist, and no human being deserves to feel unmade.
by Ona Gritz
The words "Notice Breath" stayed with me after taking a virtual yoga class, breath being on my and most everyone's mind these days. Thoughts about mortality and observations during quarantine all came together when I sat down to write that afternoon and the result was this poem. The poem was first published in the Poetry Journal One Art.
by Joseph Fasano
by Tracey Rhys
A satirical poem in response to our appreciation of the natural world whilst in lockdown, when our lives slowed to match the pace of seasons, the passing of life and time. I wanted to write about the fickle swing, as we moved away from being consumers to becoming natural observers, and now for the autumn as we 'resume our lives' again. What might we learn from this experience, if only we keep looking?
by Rachel Burns
At 18 and pregnant I was made homeless and lived in a council flat in Willington. It was a tough existence, a tale of survival because ultimately you had too. It's also about enforced domesticity and how ordinary objects can become suddenly weighted. And how you can lose your identity as an individual through circumstance.
by Yuan Changming
by Pippa Little
by Nairn Kennedy
This idea came from visiting a certain well-known coffee chain which asks for your first name to identify which coffee is yours, and turned into an exploration of the alienation felt by an immigrant. Sometimes a poem takes over from the writer and develops its own theme, which is one reason why we write.
by Merrie Joy Williams
This poem was inspired by the death of George Floyd, and all the Black Lives Matter deaths protests and video footage – which were so prevalent during 2020 lockdown months. Through oddly juxtaposing the irrational fear of black people (racism) and spiders (arachnophobia), it explores alternative behaviours available to potential perpetrators – and the perspective of persons living with the knowledge that their lives might not be valued.
by Tiffany Anne Tondut
I began writing this poem when my husband was working through a series of storms - my heart went out to him. I was due to give birth at the end of that month, and we both feared the increasing threat of COVID. As lockdown began, and continued, this poem developed in response to his concerns, the challenges we faced and the humour during that strange time. I remain seriously proud of this man.
by Laura Potts
This poem follows the format set by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin in her poem 'Swineherd'. A herdsman imagines a time in the post-pandemic future when he can enjoy the simple fact of being alive. He makes a series of simple vows - listen to cream rising in a milk jug and count the trees in an orchard - to better appreciate his existence. I took my lockdown companion, my cat, and wrote a similar verse from her perspective.
by Celia A Sorhaindo
In 2017 our island suffered a devastating category 5 hurricane and we are told climate change is likely to bring more extreme weather, more regularly. Now with the COVID19 pandemic, life seems even more unstable and unpredictable; depressed "weather conditions" for humanity.
by Brian China
Leicester became the first city put into a local lockdown on 30 June 2020. I began the poem in July as volunteers went door-to-door delivering Covid home test kits. It's about a feeling of a return to an older city, Elizabethan, banished from the realm by decree. One contribution to the high infection rate was thought to be clothing sweatshops forcing their vulnerable workers to continue in cramped conditions with no protection against the virus.
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This Year's Judges
Imtiaz is a poet, artist, and video film-maker.
Her collections include 'Purdah' (Oxford University Press), 'Postcards from god', I speak for the devil', 'The terrorist at my table' (all published by Penguin India and Bloodaxe Books UK) and 'Leaving Fingerprints', 'Over the Moon' and 'Luck is the Hook' (Bloodaxe Books UK).
Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus and have been widely broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and the BBC World Service.
Imtiaz has been a Trustee of the Poetry Archive since 2015.
Robert has four poetry collections: Travelling to the Fish Orchards, On the Beach with Chet Baker, Writing King Kong, all from Seren; and The Book of Snow from Two Rivers Press. The Museum of Everything is forthcoming from Seren in 2021.
He has won awards and nominations from the National Poetry Competition, London Poetry, Forward Poetry Prize and Housman Poetry Prize.
Robert was Chairman of The Poetry Trust and is Chairman of The Poetry Archive.
He works for the BBC as Head of BBC History.
Lavinia is an editor of poetry at Faber & Faber.
She is the author of the poetry pamphlet Ornaments: a handbook (If a Glyph Falls Press, 2020) and co-editor of Try To Be Better (Prototype, 2019), a creative-critical engagement with the poet W. S. Graham.
Her poetry explores the creative process, artifice and materiality, and has appeared in various magazines, journals and anthologies.
Lavinia joined the Poetry Archive as a Trustee in 2019.
A special thank you to our WordView 2020 poets.
Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: “The hundreds of entries we received blew in to the Archive like a breath of pure, unpolluted air from all over the world, revealing something of the time we are living in, some telling it straight, some slant. It was exciting to check in to the Poetry Archive’s Youtube channel every morning and come upon one unexpected voice after another."Watch the full Wordview 2020 playlist