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:


1st Place:

John Foggin – Camera Obscura


Highly Commended:

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:-


Camera obscura              

(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.