Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2023: (dead white men)

Who commodified the body, and ratified its currency,
ditching slavery when the profits stymied.
Who preached autonomy for the noblesse only,
with clean ups and climbdowns rife in the colonies.

Who cautioned their daughters about eugenics,
but still desired the exotic, who sired secret bastards away
from sorry spouses, shunned the swarthy progeny
and spurned surrogate mothers.

Who drew borders with rulers, straight and crooked.
Who aspired to be sun-kissed but perplexed, turned grey.
Who morphed into matriarchs, squirming in bodices,
like mistresses of phallic philosophies.

Who’ve evolved into lords with jaundiced tans,
who covet silver spoons and bleach their teeth.
Who sip at cocktails, demanding punctual sunsets
and bucolic vistas cleansed of refugee tents.

Who delegate nurture to nannies, presence to pacifiers,
day-care to dummies, and sell their sperm for cash.
Whose henchmen serve as caddies, manicuring lawns,
muzzle-bound, smiles still intact.

Who lounge in the crisis of the overheating sun,
as sprinklers kiss their grass iridescent.
Who make the bindweed’s white flower trumpets,
as their tired, old tongues are devoured by wasps.

Who wind up the crowd until it heaves and breaks.
Who bristle in their graves, denouncing snowflakes.

Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2023 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 ...

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Neetha Kunaratnam

Neetha Kunaratnam was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for 2007. He gained an MA in Creative Writing in 2008 from Royal Holloway. His work appears in the anthologies Off the Shelf, (Picador, 2016) and Out of Sri Lanka (Bloodaxe, 2023). His collection Just Because (Smokestack Books) was highly commended in the 2019 Forward Prizes and he features in The Forward Prizes Poems of the Decade 2011-20. ‘Cauc/asian’ (Blue Diode) was published in May.

A special thank you to our WordView 2023 poets.

Here's what our PAN Wordview 2023 judges have to say about this year's competition. Robert Seatter, says "ever a joy and a privilege to co-judge the Poetry Archive Now annual competition, tapping into a pulse of thought and feeling from around the globe, condensed into intensely crafted poems. The entries came from all continents, covered myriad themes, spoke in different voices, but all shared a fundamental belief in the power of poetry to speak from the soul."

Courtney Conrad says "the poets who participated in this competition reminded us that poetry is a tool for change, a medium for reflection, and a source of inspiration. These poets have left an indelible mark on me and the world, and I can't wait to see how their words continue to shape our collective consciousness in the future."

Merrie Joy Williams says "The Poetry Archive is such an indispensable resource - the idea that a poem read in a poet’s own voice can outlast those seemingly endless moments tinkering until a poem feels right, or at least robust enough to convey a memory or insight - so exploring these entries was a privilege and joy. Selecting a final twenty was tortuous. So many captured the spirit of these times, when so many things are at risk of erosion or at a critical juncture: the environment, the misuse of AI, truthfulness, the modus operandi of those who run our countries, and issues of social justice and humanity. Others captured personal moments of reckoning in bold and intimate and surprising ways. Somehow we’ve managed to narrow them down and here we have, I think, a wide range of voices and approaches, personal and political, national and international, witty and wise, often proving that these dialectic notions are one and the same."

See the collectionWatch the full Wordview 2023 playlist