The G. S. Fraser Prize is an annual poetry competition for students at the University of Leicester. The winner of this year's prize is Jane Simmons, for her poem "Flood." Colin Gardiner is runner-up, and receives an honourable mention for his poem "Midnight Trees." You can read about the winners, and the winning poems below.
Jane Simmons is a former teacher/lecturer who has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. She is now a PhD student at the University of Leicester, where her research project is The Poetics and Politics of Motherhood, a practice-led exploration of motherhood through an environmental and political lens, engaging with the theme creatively and as it is treated in contemporary women’s poetry. As a reviewer for The Blue Nib literary magazine, Jane has built a significant publication history of writing about contemporary women’s poetry. A small selection of her own poems appeared in the March 2019 edition of the magazine. Her collection From Darkness into Light – poems inspired by the Book of Kells – was published in 2018. Further poems will appear in two anthologies to be published by Pimento Press, also in 2019: The View from the Steep, and Seasonal Poems from Pimento Poets. Jane regularly reads/performs her work in the Lincoln area.
When you left, the river was already swollen –
with still more rain yet to come.
I can hear it now – percussive, insistent,
demanding I let it in.
On the radio last night, a spokesman intoned
what to do for the best if it came to the worst –
and I laughed then, and thought of you,
or you as you used to be.
Remember when the old women said be careful
what you wish for, but we didn’t listen?
Well, the trees bow low now, weighted down
with all our sodden prayer-rags.
Today, I woke to find the road missing,
hawthorns wading down the lane - searching
for lost hedges. There was strange beauty
in the reflections of rain clouds.
I am a stranger in this watery land -
cannot read its language. I am adrift,
lost – but water will find its way. Like you,
it has a perfect memory -
no wonder the river is full of itself.
Sofas and armchairs lounge in front gardens -
indoors, the water table rises, and fish
play scales on your piano.
I have stacked your books in the bath, safely,
raised some of the furniture on bricks
you said would come in useful some day -
though you didn’t take them with you.
And still the sky unburdens its grief.
If I press my ear to the window,
I can hear accusations – you know
who you are, you know what you did.
Colin Gardiner lives in Coventry. He writes short stories and poems and is published by The Ekphrastic Review and the Creative Writing at Leicester blog. He is currently studying a Master's in Creative Writing at Leicester University.
There is a shortcut through the park, where
The trees are hanging in a frail parliament.
They lean in for a late-night session.
Their fragile leaves are trembling
At the prospect of autumn alopecia.
Try to imagine the speed of tree-thoughts
Travelling through accumulated rings.
Seeking to reach a form of expression.
Is their understanding articulated only
By green or gradients of red and brown?
Who can tell in the amnesia of moonlight?
A shopping bag is snagged by brittle hands
And held up, beseechingly, to the stars
That glaze the September sky.