Monday, 12 July 2021 08:36

Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2021: The winners!

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Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2021: The winners!

The judges, Andy Croft of Smokestack Books and Mary Sayer from Unite, have picked the following five winners for 2021:

Have Mercy on the Multi-Drop Man by Eamonn Harvey

They Want All Our Teeth to be Theirs by Martin Hayes

The Apple Tree by Alan Sleater

Spray Carnations by Steven Taylor

So Long Mariana by Alan Weadick

Congratulations to the five winners and thanks to all those who entered. The Bread and Roses anthology containing a selection of entries will be available to buy later in the year. If you wish to order copies in advance please contactThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here are the judges' comments on this year's entries:

It is hard to write about the injustices of contemporary society without slipping into easy denunciations, second-hand phrases and borrowed anger. The best political poetry should also be painful to read, interrogating itself and challenging what the reader thinks they know or believe to be true.

The entries to this year’s Bread and Roses competition certainly share a sense of impatient rage and revulsion at the way the world works; but they are also distinguished by intellectual ambition, literary technique and political resilience. And they say what needs to be said about the subjects that matter most – inequality, work, unemployment, solidarity, struggle, homelessness, racism, illegal wars, environmental disaster.

Andy Croft, Smokestack Books

At a time when the working class struggles to make itself heard in the arts, which are in danger of becoming the preserve of the entitled - we need to raise our voices louder than ever.

When some of us feel as if a protective layer of our emotions has been torn off by the powers that be - it has been particularly heartening to read these resonant outpourings from our comrades. A whole range of emotions live in these beautiful and brave poems: passion, reflection, tender nostalgia and hope – through to urgent and justifiable outrage. Always inspiring and often very funny and comforting. Just the title alone of one my favourite of these poems does it for me: 'Have Mercy on the Multi-drop Man'. Brilliant!

 - Mary Sayer, Unite

Here is one of the winning poems, the others will be published online shortly:

So Long, Mariana
(A Farewell to Employee No. 322952 from Employee No. 323647)

by Alan Weadick

Such a huge sigh, Mariana, containing, I hope,
only a fraction of what we'll both

still have left over after this out of office hours
work that flows from us in salt and water

as we cut a swath through the dust
of dead messages, contemplating beds

of sharpened pencils in the era of eyes
that never blink, trying not to sink

into the special pit reserved
for rapidly cooling corporate benevolence.

Which, I am given to understand,
likes us fine and makes us the subject

of many an after –dinner speaker,
the same Babel all over, Mariana,

out in the nursing homes of the privately
wicked, those who claim to be on your side

while on their way to the revolving door
to snuggle up with their lump sums.

So sigh some more, Mariana,
as often and deeply as it takes

to make your first song
(I can't tell you how many; I'm still sighing

my way through a dozen wet cardboard walls).
But those who have ears will hear it

true and unmistakable as the hand writing
in light that must have made you up

(there is no other explanation for you, Mariana)
with just such a mission in mind

after each Brazilian night to come
with its far from neutral face

has done its worst to erase
whatever it is about you, Mariana,

and what you've left behind
that can't be binned or sold.

Read 278 times Last modified on Monday, 26 July 2021 11:27
Mike Quille

Mike Quille is a writer, reviewer and chief editor of Culture Matters.