I’ve sat on this news for a month, but last night I travelled to Cardiff to the prize-giving ceremony for the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Which I’ve won. I can’t quite believe it yet either.
When I got the email, the first thing I did was swear, a lot and imaginatively. My second thought was ‘they’re going to want me to read it out, aren’t they?’ My third, following close on to the second, was ‘why on earth did I write such a long one?’
Anyway, I arrived at Waterstones in Cardiff to meet Lemn Sissay and Rhian Edwards, who treated us to a few of their own poems before introducing the shortlisted and winning poets. Lemn’s performance of his was incredible: absolutely riveting. Rhian read her beautiful poems completely by heart, which is something I aspire to but have never had the nerve to try.
They both said how hard the judging process had been, with Samantha Wynne-Rydderch filtering the 3,000 entries down to 500 for Lemn and Rhian to read. The more I heard about the process, the more disbelieving I was that my poem had actually made it through. I reckon my subject had carried it along: John Harrison was an extraordinary man.
Some of the runners-up and other winners were there, and read their poems. Lianne Strauss’ It was a terrific, headlong, unpunctuated description(s) of the multiverse. Edward Storey’s wife had luckily brought a copy of his poem in her handbag. It was a really friendly and fun evening. We laughed a lot.
The full results and judges’ comments are now up on Literature Wales’ website here, along with all the winning poems (mine is here). I feel incredibly proud and honoured to be among those chosen by Lemn and Rhian. Still a bit giddy, to be honest!