Amanda's Circus

Winchester Poetry Prize

Great news! The Winchester Poetry Prize results have been announced. One of my poems won the Hampshire Prize, and was highly commended overall. Another was commended. What a fantastic surprise! Many thanks to WPF for a wonderful occasion. I’m so thrilled Sarah Howe enjoyed the poems. It was great to hear her read and to meet everyone. The winner was Caleb Parkin who was on holiday but sent an entertaining video in his place. The final list is here, and both poems are published in the festival anthology I’m proud to say.

Last October, I went along to the Winchester Poetry Festival. It was brilliant and had a tremendous buzz. This year’s event was an interim festival, the real one is biennial. In the afternoon, I went to a book-making workshop run by Eileen White and Noriko Suzuki-Bosco who have started the artist-run project Bookcase Press. It was an extraordinary session, and really relaxing. I’ll definitely make more little books at home. Eileen’s are absolutely fabulous sculptural pieces. You can find more about her work on her website here.

In the afternoon, we long listed poets read our poems. I hadn’t really planned how to go about this but after the surprise of one of the poems being highly commended and winning the Hampshire Prize, I decided to go for it with some confidence. It was fun and wonderful to hear the others read, also a great open mic in the evening!


Here’s a little bit of info on my two poems, just in case you’re interested. My poem, ‘Talking About Bob and His Plans for His Double Bass’, was highly commended and won the Hampshire Prize. It is obviously concerning a double bass. I have a few double bass poems now, something that has happened by mistake too. I spend a lot of time with my bass, and it means a lot to me, I love it, so I suppose that’s why. My main problem when editing this one was to find a way to show that there were two voices speaking without using speech marks, and then to make sure that the two voices didn’t sound the same, which is obvious when you write prose but somehow, a different set of editorial goofs are at work in my brain with the poetry. Anyway, I think I managed to do so in the end. This particular one started out as a Poetry School NaPoWriMo poem. It was horrendously difficult writing a poem every day for a month. I could only do it at night and got into a routine of going to bed at 2am that I’ve had trouble breaking out of. Nightmare!

The commended poem ‘Debt Frequently Precludes Hope But Not Always’ is also musical in a way. It’s about the intrusiveness of Debt and how it affects your whole life, and even when Hope comes along you don’t recognise it. The layout of this poem is particularly important. It’s a terza rima, and because Debt sets the rhythm and routine of life totally awry, I decided to make the scansion irregular, giving the lines of each stanza, beats of 7, 5 and 3, and when the protagonist is diverting her attention the beats become simpler and regular again. It was extremely interesting to do, and I was rather pleased with myself for thinking it up. The poem started out as a terza rima exercise on the Poetry School’s ‘Wit in Sixteenth Century Poetry’ course, run by the brilliant Will Harris, who set the bar very high.

It was great to meet lots of other poets, and an all-round lovely occasion. Three cheers for the brilliant folk of the Winchester Poetry Festival.



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About writing, trickery and a little music