In his first year as patron of the Lumen and Camden Poetry Series and as judge of the annual competition, Andrew Motion has chosen a stunning poem called Camera Obscura by John Foggin as the winner. John Foggin’s prize will include having a chapbook released by Ward Wood Publishing in November this year, and he will work with editor Adele Ward in the coming months to select and work on the poems for his collection. He will also receive 50 copies and will have a launch reading in the Camden venue.
The results are:
John Foggin – Camera Obscura
Cara Jessop – Old Adam’s Likeness
Mark Leech – Leaf Lessons
Richard Westcott – Corporal Yukio
Joan Michelson – Vision
Gillian Henchley – Half Siblings Discovered
Cameron Hawke Smith – Walking to Addenbrooke’s
Roger Caldwell – Defence of Essex
Lorna Liffen – If the Fifth Born
Chris Duggen – A Place to Leave My Shadow
The Winning Poem:-
(Emily Wilding Davison. June 1913)
By John Foggin
The reason for your being here
is out of sight. They can’t be seen –
your Cause’s colours sewn inside
your decent coat: white, violet, green.
The camera sees the moment
you began to die:
the jockey, trim in silks, is doll-like
on the grass and seems asleep;
his mount is spraddled on its back;
its useless hooves flail at the sky.
Your spinning, flower-trimmed hat
is stopped, distinct, mid-flight;
your hair’s still not come down;
you’re frozen, inches from the ground;
your boots are neatly buttoned,
take small steps on the arrested air.
You’re stopped in time. No sound,
no texture, no sour odour
of bruised grass and earth. Just
silence and the alchemy of light.
How did you comprehend
the shock of heat, huge muscle, hair,
in that white moment
when the dark came down?
The camera cannot tell;
it’s business neither truth nor lies.
It shows a fallen horse. A woman falling. A crowd
in hats and blazers staring down a long perspective;
the field intent upon the distant fairy icing
grandstand. The waving flags. The finish line.
Until the image blurs, dissolves in silver flowers,
it’s there on celluloid in shades of grey;
the camera only says that in that instant
you are dying, and everyone has looked away.