Guest Post: Ekphrastic Challenge Poetry Competition Winner

The judges have deliberated, and the winner of Made in Roath’s Ekphrastic Challenge Poetry Competition has been chosen. Congratulations go to Jill Berrett for her poem ‘A Semi-detached Corner’ which was inspired by a painting entitled ‘No Place Like Roath’ by Robert Vokes (displayed in the Made in Roath Open exhibition).

A Semi-detached Corner

Here in my autumn years I visit this cul de sac of semi’s,
searching for you beside the sashes of the upstairs bay.
Are you hiding, or lying on the narrow bed, dreaming of sea
colours, teal and turquoise, uneven patterns with wavy lines?

Or are you curled up downstairs enfolded by the winged armchair
reading Kollontai’s Love of Worker Bees? Can you see out
to the bare tree, no birds singing, no leaves fallen on to the
empty pavement, neither people nor animals pass you by.

Neatness is everything in this quiet corner, nothing allowed
to grow out of shape, even the greenery can have no
individuality. Although what would your mother have said to
next door’s privet, leaning, as though in need of company?

Low brickwork walls still keep boundaries, held upright
by determination more than mortar, perfectly capped,
as I prepare to release my storm. I travelled a long way west
to capture it, carried it inside myself across oceans,

gathering along the way all that was caught in its draught. I lean
back, my face to the sky, my mouth issues a long cry and my
bloated body releases its hurricane. Windows shake, trees
shudder in anticipation, branches shake with delight, bushes

bow and sigh. In its wake fly painted ladies, silver striped moths,
seeds drop, swallows swoop, warblers and wagtails pause in their
migration, a new colonisation begins. Sashes give way and walls crumble.
I shout  ‘Run’, the door flies open, and I go forward to catch you.

houses - Copy
The judges only had a few hours in which to make their decision. This is what they said…

“The imagery is visceral, dreamlike yet realistic. The poem almost acts as a juxtaposition to the image itself but because of the quality of the descriptions and adjectives employed, the poem fits perfectly. I feel that it would be a great poem for an anthology on the seasons but it stands alone well, too. A strong aspect of the poem is how it also can compare to today's climate of violence and aggression in certain news stories when the writer has written about elements of the weather.”

(from Rhys Milsom)

“I find the pace to be perfect, the subject matter well considered, the imagery both interesting and original. I love the image of the privet, for example, “leaning, as though in need of company”. I love, too, the balance between loss and lusciousness in this poem - the ‘I’ of the piece is missing someone, yet still the scene is full of flora and fauna, the elements as well as burgeoning new life. The beauty and fragility of life is captured beautifully in a piece that is precise and poignant in its rendering. A very worthy winner indeed.”

(from Mab Jones)