The Bridport Prize: Highly Commended

I feel so lucky to have had my poem ‘The way you knew’ Highly Commended in this year’s Bridport Prize, judged by Hollie McNish. It was lovely to meet the other poets over lunch at the Bridport Arts Centre, including 2nd prize winner Jim McElroy, who introduced me to a new word, ‘Hoor’, skilfully deployed as a noun, adjective and verb throughout his stunning poem. The winner, Fathima Zahra, had the entire room hanging on every word of her beautiful, poignant Things I wish I could trade my headscarf for. It was a real privilege to hear all the winners reading their poems, and also to meet Hollie McNish, who has inspired so many of my students to explore poetry for themselves.

The way you knew I fell for when reading it aloud. I felt the rhythms, repetitions and internal rhymes slipped so subtly between pauses came forth more confidently when leashed from the tongue, whilst images such as ‘the way you knew as you chewed how big the next bubble would be’ and ‘even before he began drinking ink’ ensured it would not slip into generalisation.

Hollie McNish, from the Poetry Judge’s Report, Bridport Prize Anthology 2019
With Bridport Prize poetry judge Hollie McNish (Image courtesy of Rachel Brown)

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