This year, The Saint’s poetry competition was highly contested, with a great number of entries. The talent seen in the poems made the decision process extremely challenging. However, The Saint would like to congratulate Michael Grieve for his winning poem, and also say congratulations to Alexandra Julienne, a close second place. The competition was judged by Don Paterson, poetry editor of Picador MacMillan, and recipient of the Queens’ Gold Medal for Poetry.
have never let a stranger on their island
and I’ve heard their speech is alien.
Their myth could go the other way
and the garden, the flood, come off so nearly
as our own we’d think there nothing to be said
about their God at Babel: Well Played.
The tower’s not destroyed but stands
guarded with cryptic name and prayer
muttered by that endangered dozen score
for whom speech breathes the constant
voice of the unreal thing itself,
each word alone a song.
And if it’s true, can we blame the Sentinel?
I’ve heard we speak in tongues.
Constraints of Origin
This poem in the shape of a morning,
sixteen years ago, my last hours
in the universe of my mother’s bed,
drawn across her sleep slackened fist.
Already, it was not uncharted territory,
that clutter of skin cells and crumpled silks.
This ancestry of silence handed down
took the image of a diagram:
the two of us no longer ourselves,
strangers to each other as though
I was not the child I promised to be
and she was not the mother
I drew on the wall, stick-figured
and faceless, before she painted it over.
Even now, with so many years
lying between our beds,
the words are still geometric.
They share with me
the cold vacancy of a foreign room,
sharp at the edges, rectangular
and pressed into the flesh
of my hand, the softest part.
I trace that morning
over my palm,
the posture of a sleep
she has taught me.
I put my mother’s name
to rest beside mine
on a sheet of paper,
into the constraints of origin,
the way blood twists in water