38th Frogmore Prize heads west to Wales

Kathy Miles from Aberaeron, Ceredigion has been awarded the 38th annual Frogmore Poetry Prize by adjudicator Graham Mort for her poem ‘After a Termination on Medical Grounds’.

Born in Liverpool, Kathy has lived in Wales since 1972. She worked for many years at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, where she also completed an MA in Creative Writing. Her fourth collection of poetry, Bone House, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2020, and her latest collection, Vanishing Point, was published earlier this year by Palewell Press. Commenting on the process of adjudicating the Prize, Graham Mort said: ‘I avoided poems that explained themselves, trying to choose those that yielded up further meanings or significance, that burned brightest in my own consciousness, remaining irreducible. I wanted to acknowledge adventure in theme, form and language, to find transformative endings that left my own visions active in the lingering aura of the poem.’

The Frogmore Papers 104. Cover art by Eva Bodinet

First runner-up was Pamela Job from Wivenhoe, Essex, with her poem ‘Nikolai Astrup shows a rare visitor around his village’, inspired by an exhibition of the work of Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Second runner-up was Ben Verinder from Tring, Hertfordshire, with his poem ‘The Marfa Lights’. His poem ‘Dilapidations’ also reached the shortlist of ten. Other shortlisted poets were Jane Davidson, Tim Dwyer, Kate Horsley, Sarah Salway, Thea Smiley and Vivienne Tregenza.

Their poems will all be published in the September edition of The Frogmore Papers, available from The Frogmore Press for only £5.00, including post & packing.

Deadline looms for Frogmore Prize entries: 31 May 2024

The deadline for entries to this year’s Prize (31 May 2024) is fast approaching. Adjudicator Graham Mort will read all submissions. Full details are available at: www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

The Prize was established in 1987 with a generous endowment from André Evans in his capacity as President of the Frogmore Foundation. John Rice, then Director of the New Metropole Arts Centre in Folkestone (and also a widely published poet in his own right) was persuaded to adjudicate, conditions of entry were drafted, and we were ready to roll. There may or may not have been a good reason for the decision to award the prize money in guineas rather than pounds sterling. This may or may not have been because 25 guineas sounded more desirable as booty than 25 pounds. Whatever the grounds, once the principle was established, it became a defining feature of the Prize, though the booty has multiplied tenfold over its thirty-seven years and now stands at a more impressive 250 guineas. Not that it has ever been about anything quite as vulgar as cash, albeit cash paid in guineas. Kudos, we hoped, would be the lure, and so it ultimately proved, with increasing numbers of submissions from poets whose names were recognised and whose work encountered in publications of note (though reputation counts for little when entries are judged anonymously, as they have been since the Prize’s inauguration).

David Satherley won that first Prize back in 1987, and Lynda Plater won last year. Between them there have been a series of notable winners, with John Latham and Howard Wright both winning twice, Caroline Price three times and Emily Wills on an astonishing four occasion! In every case, the Prize was awarded by a different adjudicator on each occasion, surely testament to the skill and craft of these poets.

The Papers’ 103rd edition in their 41st year

Cover art by Arusyak Pivazyan, inspired Paul Truan’s poem ‘Tones’

The Frogmore Papers’ 103rd edition is published this month. It’s another international number, featuring a striking cover by Armenian artist Arusyak Pivazyan (inspired by a poem from Cornish poet Paul Truan), translations of Georges Brassens by Michael Swan and the Belgian poet Marc Tritsmans by John Irons, poems by Peter Bakowski (Australia) and Christine Hennemann (Ireland) and a short story by Stephen Silvester (Canada). Closer to home, there is also work by Mike Barlow, Vuyelwa Carlin, John Greening, Stuart Henson, Myra Schneider, Paul Stephenson and a host of others. ‘From the Archive’ features a 1997 poem by Tobias Hill, who, sadly, died last year. Several of his early poems appeared in the Papers, and Tobias was awarded the Frogmore Prize in 1995 by Linda France for his poem ‘Flora and the Admiral’.

The Frogmore Papers are available post-free (£5.00) from The Frogmore Press or from Skylark, the independent bookshop in the Needlemakers, Lewes. Subscription rates to the Papers have remained at £10.00 for one year, £15.00 for two years since 2010.

Poetry Prize adjudicator announced

Adjudicator announced

The 38th Frogmore Poetry Prize will be adjudicated by writer and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing and Transcultural Literature Graham Mort. Graham is the author of ten full-length poetry collections, most recently Black Shiver Moss (Seren, 2017)  and three collections of short fiction, most recently Like Fado and Other Stories (Salt, 2021). He has also written BBC radio drama. Graham has read his work widely across the UK and overseas in South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam and China. 

The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2024. Full details at:  http://www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

This year’s Prize (2023), adjudicated by Helena Nelson, was won by Lynda Plater with her poem ‘The Revd. Michael Woolf on his way to a parishioner in need’. Runners-up were Alison Binney and Christopher Horton.

Lynda Plater takes 37th Frogmore Poetry Prize

Lincolnshire poet Lynda Plater has been awarded this year’s Frogmore Prize by adjudicator Helena Nelson. Lynda has been writing poetry for more than forty years and her work has been published in Rialto, Stand and Verse, among other poetry journals. She has published two pamphlets with Wayleave Press, Three Seasons for Burning and Saving Fruit, of which Rennie Halstead has written: ‘Saving Fruit creates a vivid and memorable picture of life in rural Lincolnshire in the first half of the twentieth century. Plater captures the wildlife, the landscape and the lives of the people living and working in it with a pictorial, almost photographic realism. She has the ability to transport the reader back into the past through her spare imagery and simple language.’ 

Of her Frogmore Prize-winning poem, ‘The Revd. Michael Woolf on his way to a parishioner in need’, Helena Nelson comments: ‘It has imprinted itself on my mind like a painting. I find it strangely compelling, and perfect. The form and thought are precisely matched, beautifully balanced. So much that it doesn’t say! So much it evokes!’

First runner-up is Alison Binney with ‘Party Susan’, which Helena describes as ‘funny and a little sad. I admire the way it appears at first casual – almost awkward – while subtly and tenderly working its magic.’ Second runner-up is Christopher Horton with ‘Elvis Presley Makes it Just In Time for the Charity Event in an English Village’, one of the longest entries for this year’s Prize, but, Helena notes, ‘the reading investment is worth it. It is exquisitely detailed and beautifully rendered: a short story of a poem – a delight.’ Other poets shortlisted were Alex Barr, Sharon Black, Eric C Brown, Charles Evans, Jane Kite, Laura Strickland and Jane Thorp. Their poems will all be published in the September edition of The Frogmore Papers, available from The Frogmore Press for only £5.00, including post & packing.

Lynda Plater

THE REVD. MICHAEL WOOLF
ON HIS WAY TO A PARISHIONER IN NEED

This is plainsong: flat line of marsh,

cordgrass, seeding thrift, sow-thistle,

sliver of sea far out where boats

rest in Humber’s low tide.

Grey seals are wintering: monophony

of their song in cold air

as he cycles between staves

of fields: cassock, the wing of a rook.

Deadline looms for the 37th Frogmore Poetry Prize

The deadline for entries to this year’s Prize (31 May) is fast approaching. Adjudicator Helena Nelson, poet, critic, publisher and founding editor of the renowned HappenStance press, will read all submissions. Full details at: www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

Helena Nelson

The Prize was established in 1987 with a generous endowment from André Evans in his capacity as President of the Frogmore Foundation. John Rice, then Director of the New Metropole Arts Centre in Folkestone (and also a widely published poet in his own right) was persuaded to adjudicate, conditions of entry were drafted, and we were ready to roll. There may or may not have been a good reason for the decision to award the prize money in guineas rather than pounds sterling. This may or may not have been because 25 guineas sounded more desirable as booty than 25 pounds. Whatever the grounds, once the principle was established, it became a defining feature of the Prize, though the booty has multiplied tenfold over its thirty-seven years and now stands at a more impressive 250 guineas. Not that it has ever been about anything quite as vulgar as cash, albeit cash paid in guineas. Kudos, we hoped, would be the lure, and so it ultimately proved, with increasing numbers of submissions from poets whose names were recognised and whose work encountered in publications of note (though reputation counts for little when entries are judged anonymously, as they have been since the Prize’s inauguration).

David Satherley won that first Prize back in 1987, and Laura Jenner won last year. Between them there have been a series of notable winners, with John Latham and Howard Wright both winning twice, Caroline Price three times and Emily Wills on an astonishing four occasion! In every case, the Prize was awarded by a different adjudicator on each occasion, surely testament to the skill and craft of these poets. A selection of poems shortlisted for the Prize was published in The Frogmore Poetry Prize Anthology 1987–1991 and also in Decade: Ten Years of the Frogmore Poetry Prize. The 40th anniversary of the Prize in 2026 may prove to be the moment to bring its forty deserving winners together in one volume.

Adjudicator for Frogmore Prize 2023 announced

The 37th Frogmore Poetry Prize (2023) will be adjudicated by poet, critic, publisher and founder of HappenStance Press Helena Nelson. Helena’s latest collection, Pearls: The Complete Mr & Mrs Philpott Poems (2022) is reviewed in the latest edition (number 100) of The Frogmore Papers. She is also the author of the acclaimed How (Not) To Get Your Poetry Published (HappenStance, 2016), a book that collects the insights and useful ideas she has gathered over her many years in poetry publishing.

Helena Nelson. (Photo: Gerry Cambridge)

The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2023. Full details at:  http://www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

This year’s Prize (2022), adjudicated by John Freeman, was won by Laura Jenner from County Antrim for her poem ‘Smoothing’. Runners-up were Elizabeth Best (Louisville, Kentucky) and John Lancaster (Totnes, Devon).

Results of 35th annual Frogmore Poetry Prize

The 35th Frogmore Poetry Prize has been won by Laura Jenner from Whitehouse, County Antrim, for her poem ‘Smoothing’. Adjudicator John Freeman writes: ‘‘Smoothing’ uses rhythm, syntax, discreet rhyme and unfolding webs of imagery to evoke the characters and hard lives of two particular women, and by extension a whole class of women they stand for. There is a controlled explosion, as it were, when the ‘coffin-shape’ of the ironing board in line 2 is detonated in the memorial plaques ‘about the size of an iron’ in the last lines. We’ve been on a rich and varied journey in between, as the poem ‘[brings] the centuries to face each other.’ ‘Smoothing’ is a very worthy winner of this year’s Frogmore Prize.

The first runner-up was Elizabeth Best, an American poet from Louisville, Kentucky, with ‘Veteran Mates’ and the second runner-up was John Lancaster from Totness, with ‘Sussed’. Other poets shortlisted were Sarah Barr (winner of the Prize in 2015), Annie Fisher, Stuart Henson, Neil Martin, Myra Schneider and Rolf Venner. All shortlisted poems will be published in the celebratory 100th edition of The Frogmore Papers in September.

Congratulations to all shortlisted poets, and thanks to all the poets who supported this year’s Frogmore Prize by entering.

Laura Jenner

SMOOTHING

Every time I trail out and unfold the ironing board,
the padded, collapsible coffin-shape, I recall how
Belle left school on Friday, starting Monday in the laundry,
recall her iron glide across the cloth, a grey liner bow
as it scythed through the lough, its hissing wake of starchy steam.
She sailed through infirmary bedding, the sheets of hotels.
smoothed the shirts of rich lawyers whose wives did damn all.
She had red hair, she informed me, the colour of rust.

At night, she returned to the drab house beside the Lagan,
and got into the bed she shared with two of her sisters –
the one who smoked Woodbines, the one who was Brethren.
Sundays, she told me, the strolled up past the park, dandering
around Rosetta, stately villas of wealthy spinsters,
fat trees, primped lawns, the higher green world of petty bourgeois.
The quality, she called them, but with irony in it,
dark and tangy she turned it, rich and meaty on her tongue.

The iron has little glamour, but pure functionality.
For this reason, every time I use the thing, I think of
my mother’s bed, whom I nearly did not know,
who bled so badly, they had to chuck out a good mattress,
she told me, after a stillbirth, before an infant death,
after three healthy deliveries, for which she thanked God,
for all mothers then were the poor bloody infantry,
and birth was like war, and some didn’t return, but died in its filth.

She cleaned nights in the Boys’ Home; she smuggled food to those
who had given back cheek, and were put to bed early.
She was soft like that; pure iron is soft really. Decades on,
she named them like a chaplet, burnishing each with her tongue.
Everything she washed by hand, natural fibres scrubbed and wrung.
At some point, my father had to remove her wedding ring
with a blade and liquid ether. She kept it in a drawer –
two halves that faced each other, like a moon both old and young.

I moved them together as I do now, bringing the centuries
to face each other. I walk the fine streets and they are still
gracious, and full of the worthies. And always those women,
occurring abundantly, not considered precious –
who let themselves in to wash floors and press clothes,
and I think of those others, now boxes of ash,
in the marl of the boneyard, beneath a metal plaque
about the size of an iron, bearing their one-word name.

John Freeman to adjudicate 36th Frogmore Poetry Prize

We are very pleased to announce that the Frogmore Prize for 2022 will be adjudicated by John Freeman.

John taught English Literature and Creative Writing at Cardiff University for many years. His collection What Possessed Me (Worple Press), won the poetry section of the Wales Book of the Year Awards in 2017 and the Roland Mathias Award. Other recent books include Strata Smith and the Anthropocene (Knives Forks and Spoons Press), and White Wings: New and Selected Prose Poems (Contraband Books). His poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, and have won numerous prizes including the Bridport Prize in 2018.

This year’s Frogmore Prize was won by Margaret Wilmot, a Sussex-based Californian. Runners-up were Stephen Keeler and Mike Barlow.

Submission details for the Frogmore Poetry Prize 2022 will be published in November 2021. Do follow our blog or Twitter feed (@frogmorepress) for details.

Margaret Wilmot wins Frogmore Prize 2021

Adjudicator Clare Best has awarded this year’s Frogmore Poetry Prize to Margaret Wilmot for her poem ‘The hands’ part’. Margaret was born in Berkeley and attended the University of California. She taught English in the Mediterranean and New York before moving to Sussex in 1978, where she continued to teach. Her poetry has appeared in various British magazines including Acumen, ARTEMIS poetry, The Frogmore Papers, Magma, Oxford Poetry, The Rialto, and The North. Smiths Knoll published a pamphlet in 2013 entitled Sweet Coffee and The High Window published her collection – Man Walking on Water with Tie Askew – in 2019. She is represented in Poetry South East 2021.

The hands’ part by Margaret Wilmot

He puts the chisel down, surveys
the window

emerged out of the wood,
almost a porthole

(he with no home port)

String it, and it might play – no,
not even in his dreams –

he sweeps up chips

makes black tea

sands, for days

One evening rubs a small disc
silken

to wire in that space his eye keeps
slipping through

Runners-up for the Prize were Stephen Keeler (Ullapool) and Mike Barlow (Lancaster). Poems by Mike Barlow (again), K I Colombus, Cróna Gallagher, Marion Hobday, Vanessa Lampert, Nick Pearson and Anne Stewart were shortlisted.

All shortlisted poems will be published in number 98 of The Frogmore Papers (September 2021), available for £5.00 (post free) from The Frogmore Press, 21 Mildmay Road, Lewes BN7 1PJ. Please email frogmorepress@gmail.com for details of how to pay by BACS or PayPal.