Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2021 Winners
Poetry Archive Now! was established in 2020 to enable us to gather recordings from a much wider pool of talented poets from the UK and around the world. It is now firmly established as a premier opportunity for poets to showcase their work. The future generations who explore this growing collection will gain a vivid picture of the poetic views of our age.
2021 was a year of both optimism and caution! Many people spent a long time isolated from the cultural, community and family networks they are used to. Poetry became even more important to reflect on the age we live in and to offer inspiration, comfort and the sheer lift-of-spirits which listening to fantastic poetry can bring. We're proud to showcase our winning 2021 poets here to capture this year for future reflection.
by Akpa Arinzechukwu
I spent the first months of the lockdown at my mum's house, where she occasionally shared baby pictures & stories surrounding them with me. She lost my brother two years after birth. Here, I am reimagining my mum (who is coincidentally Maria) & her man, an artist, in his diary trying to give words to her grief.
by Jane Burn
Mrs/Mother Hail was written during 2021's ongoing pandemic when the feelings of my world becoming even smaller needed to be given voice. Through a worsening of mental health due to my neurodivergence, I have reduced my sense of the larger world to the bare minimum. I wanted to tell the story of my survival within the small, everyday moments. I also wanted to express in the poem my gladness that I am a mother. The poem is also a prayer to hope.
by Aidan Casey
by Luigi Coppola
by Martin Figura
by Tanatsei Gambura
by Oz Hardwick
I'm fascinated by prose poetry as a box of tricks, with unexpected things hidden and revealed, so I have written a number of prose poems which address conjuring and sleight of hand. This was written around my birthday in January, thinking of childhood influences and inspirations which have somehow led to me pulling words out of empty air for a living. What happened when I sawed that girl in half? I'm not saying.
by Ramona Herdman
During the pandemic I've had phone calls from a health professional stating that I wouldn't receive treatment should I contract Covid, and that I should consider getting a Do Not Resuscitate Order. This became known as The DNR Scandal by BBC News when they were breaking the story a year on. It left the news cycle within 24 hours. 'Long term conditions' means a sigh of relief when COVID deaths are reported. Hayfeaver is also a long term condition.
by Marika Keen
I wrote this sort of in sympathy with the wildness inherent in everybody, and the often seemingly primal motives behind the things we do (be they good, bad or neither). Lockdown/the pandemic in particular has brought out so much fear, loneliness and optimism, which remind me of our 'pack animal' instincts and the fact that we respond to threats in different ways - also the extent at which we can feel peace in the present moment.
One advantage of lockdown has been the turning of many of us to self-improving education, but isolation can have strange effects, and this narrator may or may not be reliable. The other inspiration during 2021 was, unfortunately, the Government's increased tendency towards more repressive legislation, which is hinted at towards the end.
by Rachael Li Ming Chong
This poem was written in response to the declining mental health of my colleagues during the pandemic. Whilst we were all so glad to physically return to school, many teachers, including myself, struggled with the myriad of challenges that came with supporting our students. This poem acknowledges its mental toll, and tentatively contemplates ways to move forward and re-build hope.
by Jehane Markham
by James McDermott
by Gerry Stewart
by Josie Walsh
This poem came more rapidly into a first draft than is my usual writing experience . Its subject has been in my memory since the late seventies. Writing it, I was at pains to convey the whole question of having an environmental dream. And of the respect I felt, and feel still, for someone who holds on to deeply-felt hope, in very difficult circumstances.
by Iain Whiteley
So many businesses and brands have gone from the high street in recent years, but the closure of Topshop's flagship Oxford Street store seemed particularly striking. I'd read about rats overtaking our offices and shops during the 2021 lockdown and imagined them on a fast-fashion rampage.
by Janice Whyne
The first line was my response–during a call–to the Derek Chauvin trial verdict. The night before, when the verdict was imminent, I’d said I didn’t want to know yet, as “the most likely bad news can keep till tomorrow.” So little was my faith that justice would be done. Throughout the day the line kept coming back to me, and the person on the call called again to say they'd been using it with others. The line seemed to be asking to become a poem.
This is quite a self-explanatory poem. My mother died a few years ago and my father a little afterwards. In searching for a scarf/mask to protect myself and others against COVID I pulled an old scarf of my mother’s from the cupboard. She’d spent her life raising her children then after we were grown and gone, she volunteered to look after elderly people in her neighbourhood. So appropriate that I should choose her scarf - as the poem says.
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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 2021 poets.
Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: "An idea that began as a response to the world shutting down has, joyfully, become a way to invite the whole world in. It has been exciting to see the entries come in from different countries, from marginalised voices, from people of all backgrounds who now know this space belongs to them. My fellow judges and I were struck by the immediacy of experience and commitment to language in the winning entries. It's also good to think that the rest of the entries will continue to be seen as an invaluable record of our times."Watch the full Wordview 2021 playlist