Raven's Annual International Poetry Competition
will not be running the competition this year
Some of the poems in our Anthologies
are by invited contributors, others are selected from entries to our
annual competition. Details of the competition are given below. To enter please
read the rules below and then either print and complete the Entry form to send with your poems or send
a stamped addressed envelope (or self addressed
envelope with IRC if overseas) for a form to Ragged Raven Press, 1 Lodge
Farm, Snitterfield, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 0LR England.
of entries will be included in an anthology scheduled for publication in
Closing date: October 31st,
entry and rules:
* The competition is open
to anyone aged 18 and over. Non-UK entries are welcome but all entries
must be in the English language.
* Poems may be of any
length and on any subject.
* Each poem must be given a
* Poems must be typed or
neatly written on A4 paper. Only one side of the paper should be used.
* Poems will be judged
anonymously and the name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript.
Poems must be accompanied by an entry form. One entry form covers multiple
entries. Photocopies of the entry form will be accepted.
* Poems must be the
original work of the author.
* Poems must not have been previously
published or be accepted for future publication elsewhere. They should not
have won prizes in other competitions.
* Entries cannot be
returned under any circumstances.
* Entrants requiring a copy
of the list of winners must enclose a stamped addressed envelope marked
"results". No correspondence or telephone calls will be
* The decision of the
judges is final.
* Copyright of each poem
remains with the author. Authors will grant Ragged Raven Press permission
to publish the poems in the 2011 anthology and will receive one free copy
if their poems are included.
* The author of the winning
poem will also grant Ragged Raven Press permission to publish the
poem on its website.
* Winners and authors of
poems selected for the anthology will be personally notified before
December 15th, 2010.
Submission of an entry to
the competition will be deemed to imply unqualified acceptance of the
competition's rules and conditions.
poem £10 for four poems
Free entry for one poem with the purchase of any Ragged Raven Poetry
Cheques, postal orders and
international money orders (sterling only) should be made payable to
Ragged Raven Press. To pay the entry fee by credit card please click
below and indicate that payment has been made in this way on your entry
To pay entry fee for four poems (£10) by credit
Send your entries
together with the Entry form and appropriate entry fee to:
Ragged Raven Press
International Poetry Competition, 1 Lodge Farm, Snitterfield,
Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 0LR to arrive no later than October
Past Ragged Raven anthologies - £10 (UK only) To buy three online, select and pay for two and then email email@example.com
to inform us of your free third choice.
Anthologies can be ordered
individually at the following prices:
1.1998 (Anthology - Old
songs getting younger, published 1999)
Gordon Simms, Tinkers' Lane
up - Joan Board, The Third Parting
David Parrott, ROY G BIV
2. 1999 (Anthology - Smile
the weird joy, published 2000)
John Crick, Miss Brown and Peggy
Runners-up - Elizabeth Gowing, Concert piece
3. 2000 (Anthology - Red
Hot Fiesta, published March 2001)
Simon Stratton, A Theoretical Concept in the Study of Gravitation
Runners-up - Terry Stothard, shall we die here?
4. 2001 (Anthology - The promise of
rest, March 2002)
Mike Parker, Elizabethan Gentlemen on the Thames 1599
Runners-up - Margaret Eddershaw, All at sea
Jocelyn Simms, Mischanter
5. 2002 (Anthology -
Night Desperate, March 2003)
Jamie Walsh, chess/nightrain
Runners-up - Jim Carruth, Kalashnikov's mower
Janet R. Hewson, Continuance
Anthony Coleman, Messier
Terence Brick, The Lute-Maker of Bruges
6. 2003 (Anthology
- Dress of nettles, March 2004)
First - David
H. W. Grubb, Ruined Farm
Runners-up - Clare Kirwan, Birdsong
Terence Brick, Suibhne at the
David Swann, Cornwall
Pat Borthwick, Bought Cakes
Ruined Farm David
H. W. Grubb
Raw morning light, the
orchard strung with frosted web,
December dawn stealing between barn ruins,
a collapsed caravan and the hunched house,
the two brothers still bivouacked in dreams.
Soon, slowly, getting up to no words, searching for
chicken eggs, the business of breakfast to kick start
existence. Newspaper flopping onto the mat. Radio belching
bad music. Post when it comes adverts and bills and every season
or so a letter from New Zealand. The sister who got away,
the one who had words and songs and their mother's stories.
Somewhere hidden still her jigsaw puzzles. In the envelope
sometimes a golden leaf or a photograph of children.
Now the sun like an owl in the low sky. Two pigs,
three sheep and some hedges to be cut down and the bugger
of a tractor that requires more work.
Parson came here once; said their mother would
be ashamed. Gave him tea which he left in the cup
but gobbed the cake.
In the orchard one of them can still see mother
gathering plums in her apron. To make jam. To
make bread. To make the breakfast feast.
Upstairs his room, old man made mad by cider.
His room left like a place of sores. But hers,
mother's room, still to be dusted and kept right.
The sun sitting there year after year. Letters from
New Zealand left on the pillow. Both men quiet
at the door kept open. Some sort of faith. Some
sort of song not heard anywhere else, rare as a
robin in August.
10. 2007 (Anthology
- The Machineries of Love, March 2008)
First - John
Terry, The Machineries of Love
Runners-up - Judy Kendall, Facing it
Paul Kingsnorth, It is ours, but
it is not ours to stop
Michael Swan, Staging Post
Godfrey, Verse Wars
Machineries of Love
Visitors to their house would ask: What
use is it? What does it do?
She never said why or how her
worked. She knew
that explanations bred more questions;
would not squander carefully rationed
strength to meet blank stares, or deflect
comments that lessened
him. They thought their incomprehension
normal; therefore (of course) he was not.
After her operation she’d sat from choice
on a thrown-out
armchair in the garage, warmly wrapped
in her shawl of drugs, applauding each new part
he created to feed the machine’s slow growth.
Was still there; heart
leaping at his whispered: Watch!
as crafted metal began to move in ways
she’d never imagined; or dreamt were possible.
Could never say
why it made her cry, or how such joy
could come from light just beyond eyeshot.
If he’d been a gardener he might have given
flowers in pots,
vases of cut blooms in every room;
but nothing she’d like better, or love
more than this machine which had no purpose
but to exist for her, and move
in an interesting way; the only gift
his skill could give; and when at last, unable
to leave the house, she missed the bright
of its movements, he re-erected it indoors
where she could always see it; locked the garage
and spent his time with her; finding strength
to support her courage.
Long afterwards, convinced that something
of her lived on within spindles and trains of gears,
he built new parts; began to extend the machine,
make it large enough to hide the tears
which still caught him. He ripped up floors
and tore out joists, making room for iron frames
that would guide and support his great design.
down brick by brick to allow access.
Simpler in the end to let the growing mechanism
support the house it was devouring; always hungry
High as a church, the
naked and complex as uncased clockwork,
dominates Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Driven by a voice he still can hear the artist works alone,
fettling castings until their gritted dust
impregnates a workbench already grained
Overhead, crowds fill the walkways
where moving parts of sculpted metal
(that fingers ache to touch) twist and dance,
radiant with reflected light, like angels
whose movements illustrate perfection.
They queued until
to get this far:
well worth the wait – but it’s far too much
for one visit –
each level of the Great Machine
displays a different motion of balanced steel
that thrills the eye as music does the ear.
Critics, who wandered
these walkways for a week,
still argue how their feelings of all-enfolding joy
could be built into spindles, shafts and trains of gears.
The artist works behind a plate glass wall where visitors can stare and
leave their smear of hands, mist of eager breath.
The glass is polished every day, inside and out, but cleaners
never go where lathe and drill spit
coils of biting swarf; where iron, rough cast in sand,
is stacked in heaps and steel bars crowd in corners
of the wall.
His workshop’s called The
Studio now; but not
by him, who conceived and built this masterpiece
which draws so many people every day
to crowd his plate-glass wall like moths
- the final exhibit and none too soon:
a long day for kids forbidden to run
and parents, arms weighed down with toddlers,
abandon dreams of cushioned settees
and settle on the vast floor.
The artist works, unheeding. For her alone new sections of the Great
Machine take shape upon his bench.
First - Angela Readman, The
Scent of Mrs DiMaggio's Bedroom
Louise Wilford, Shredding David Mark Williams, The Book of Sheep David Underdown, Thin Ice David Grubb, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Necessity
The Scent of Mrs DiMaggio's
Bedroom Angela Readman
I came home to find you
as a hotel room: a bouquet of tissues
on the night stand, and your lips
poised as complimentary mints on the pillow.
You lay on the bed as something displayed,
in the velvet folds of a Tiffany jewellery box.
Suddenly my hands felt so empty of gifts,
here, in a room swept of all traces of us.
I placed down my old hunting cap,
and inhaled your scent stolen from deer.
The bedroom starts to
of the back seat of your car, a crinkling pink
of unpaid tickets under your thighs, soda cans,
and plastic forks rattling on the floor as if shed
by miniature devils on the hoof.
None of this phases you,
peering at your reflection
trapped in the small fallen moon of your compact,
snapping it shut to take a snack and make a win of sloth.
You give a small cheer as you toss a cheese wrapper
into the cup of a brassiere lolling on the floor.
I move the chewed fat of
what’s left of a steak
on a plate from my pillow, make beef ofmy dreams.
Touch you, like peeling a boiled egg, with one eye
on the smuggled black pearls of your teeth marks in the flesh.
Some days you douse out
the aroma of sex
in Chanel, by the bucket, pour a capful under a faucet
careful an alchemist making womb water
that gives birth to movie stars.
I come home to hear the bath run
into a channel that drowns the woman I love.
You hover in your tracks
to pick a moth from my tomato soup,
blow it dry with a cool breeze from your mouth
before giving your air borne kiss to the wind.
The same hand that
pounds my chest,
and beats, beats till a door opens up.
Too many bottles and
potions on the dresser,
glass that gabbles when I walk in the door.
My half blown apology cracks to sand on my tongue.
Next to what you made a
more white flowers, a frailty of nature
that makes me nervous as your top lip
too much like a petal before it falls.
I used to cull insects,
before not to dulled my senses.
My rogue hand outwitted air, found its deftness
in taking them out mid swoop.
But in the company of
your fur stole
on the arm, its hum of face cream and rouge,
I catch the wasp in a vase, notice
just sucking a sting from my thumb
reminds me of you, when I empty it outside.
But suddenly Zabars, a malingering brine.
You inspect stuff in jars that seems to stare out,
tangled and strange as pickled deeds.
You play the fish bones, slices slick as cured souls,
stop bugging me for Ma’s Tiramisu recipe,
ask Lena how to gefilter a fish.
If they dared ask, they
would, what it’s like
sleeping with Marilyn, and I would reply
with a smile, or a punch in the face.
A scattered room, each
dress you dismissed
draped on the bed, still swollen
and waiting for your return. Later,
you tip toe in and curl up next to them,
let me kiss a mouth full of the ghost of champagne.
I find my answer to the
unspoken question as you close your eyes.
Sleeping with you, more and more, like sharing that room with Babe Ruth,
getting to know the suitcase he left behind.
Livid with lilies, a
smell so sweet
it clutches something in my head and stays
there curled tight, makes me look
through the pantry for ageing meat;
I catch myself and turn on the TV.
It’s come to watching too many westerns.
In the dead hours, the writhe of your dressing gown
when you walked to the bathroom
made me recall a gun fighter’s hand,
tap tap tapping as his other drinks tea.
It was another day,
Some flunkie said you’re dressed to kill.
And all night I wonder, Who?
Clare Kirwan, The world is made of glass David Mark Williams, The Day of the Slow Driver Stephen Dempsey, Shoreline Jane Blank, Bathers
K V SKENE
...so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
W B Yeats
And blessed are
the poor in spirit
and a grandfather who speaks a
language for which
he makes no excuses,
who navigates a neighbourhood in which
he lives by heart,
who knows what it's like to be alien, to strike out
at the first hint of recession/redundancy/
cut-backs/lay-offs as his children
get on their bikes, catch the bus, turn up
at the job centre, work site
trusting the world to be flat, that their god will provide
government initiatives, a lottery win, an ass to kiss...
they that mourn
because happiness was always
about a dream-come-true
before the dear-departed, her walking bones
and grandmother's god is still with us
although occasionally all the red wine
turns to vinegar. Look out the blind windows
and see her reflection: her hollow eye,
sunken cheek, greying hair and read her habitual obituaries
in any newspaper. Understand as a child understands
(without inquiring into the nature of nothing)
and smile as her grandchildren smile when tears are done -
less to reward than comfort.
who survive a multitude of sins -
even in a city
where east is French, west is flat, north is Precambrian
and south is Lake Ontario (and you have to admire
my sense of direction). They are the mothers
(their names are legion) who scrub the toilets, mop the floors,
clean up other people's laundry/dishes/dirt... Even when
the front garden's tarmaced over, even when the streetlights
blow out, even when the pushers and pimps and their whores
move in and weekend junkies cruise the kerb, even when
they can (and sometimes do) disappear like that Cheshire cat
leaving only a grin behind.
those who hunger and thirst after
In all cities, in all centuries,
mothers and fathers
usually manage to leave one light on. Occasionally
true wisdom drops in unheralded and, for a few,
enlightenment unfolds. All too soon someone will insist
you make a decision, a statement, a commitment,
a mistake and some places
make promises they can't keep. Now you only need
to do it right: pay the mortgage, paint the house,
renovate the kitchen, light scented candles,
place fresh flowers on the table
and there must be no hidden meaning. No agenda.
As a parent you know what it's
like to have fallen
from perfection. And you know
it's your own fault. You understand
the cringe of disintegration, the tragi-comedy,
and invoke the rituals that protect; light birthday candles,
carve pumpkins, build bonfires, roast turkeys,
open the champagne at midnight no matter what
or where. In every state, province, city, town, village
all histories are real, all borders are real
and not real.
the pure in heart
(and mind) who acknowledge an old
that gives little evidence of his/her/its existence
or intent and never intervenes in our secular stampede
towards a place we don't want to be: sunless, soundless,
sleepless, soulless, hopeless... Listen children,
the grass is not greener over there, the night
is not calmer, dawn is not brighter
and there is no more beautiful god to carry into the wilderness
who won't eventually leave you to laugh or cry alone
but living is easy - just remember the magic words
and always wash your hands afterwards.
Big brothers are smarter,
so grateful for all disasters averted
they blur the difference
still. Their gods are angry
and not easy to answer - guns are stockpiled
and tanks and harriers and chinooks
hover over all rhetoric. Now
they watch CNN as the bombs fall
upon our children and our children's children and...
those who are persecuted for
or for the sake of all we have
ever lost by accident,
absentmindedness or on purpose - misplaced mittens,
striped scarves, that Christmas tuque with the red pompom,
gym shoes, homework, keys, wallet, glasses,
virginity and the future we discarded (as a snake
sheds its skin) leaving the closed-closet smell
of family secrets. How the past hangs over us -
a grim, impassioned angel
recording each small sin as it occurs - as if unexculpated,
as if sisters should know how to live
and let each other be.