And the winner of the Bournemouth Writing Prize for Poetry is…

Like the Short Story category, the Poetry entries for 2022 surpassed any other year in both numbers and strength – making the task of choosing just one winner even more of a challenge than usual. As ever poet Antony Dunn, and in-house poet Tom Masters, rose enthusiastically to the challenge and now, finally, we are delighted to be able to share the results with you.

The winner of the Bournemouth Writing Prize for Poetry is:

Acrylic Eyes Yellowing Under Strip Lights in Acton by Ben Verinder

Ben Verinder lives in rural Hertfordshire. His first pamphlet was published by Frosted Fire, the publishing arm of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, in autumn 2021. Ben is an amateur mycologist, a wild food forager and the biographer of the adventurer and writer Mary Burkett. He is currently studying a Writing Poetry MA with Newcastle University.

The Judges said: “It’s all too easy to take one of those interesting quotes, like this poem’s epigraph from the Daily Mirror, and to use it to make a poem with a great premise but which never quite lifts itself beyond a cute anecdote. But this poem, riding as it does a wave of global upheaval, has something very important and universal to say. The shelving-away of statesmen and superstars, the abandonment of great figures of politics and pop culture, remind us powerfully – terrifyingly – that all things must pass; all flesh is grass. That placement of Gorbachev at the very centre of the poem, just at this moment, is an astonishingly apt touch. The poem is linguistically inventive without ever showing off or going too far. The verbs are wonderfully muscular. The final phrase, with its risky pun, seems to sum up the poem perfectly; simultaneously funny, heart-breaking and wise.”

Highly Commended

The Stuffed Minimalist by Roan Ellis-O’Neill

Roan Ellis-O’Neill is a writer and poet from Belfast. His work features in ‘Hold Open the Door’ and ‘Interdisciplinary Literary Studies’. In 2021, he co-created ‘Placing Poems’, an online, interactive map offering a chance to write about new and imagined journeys away from the stifling reality of the pandemic, with cartographer Ceren Dolma.

The Judges said: “This also exercises a kind of head-spinning anxiety about the state of the world. Distracted and discursive, its playful worrying flits from potential global catastrophe to gossip-mag irrelevance with delightful ease. No sense of minimalism here – the poem brilliantly communicates a panicky sense that it’s simply all too much. And then there’s that peremptory final line that shuts the whole thing down – a puzzle about the narrator’s response to the all too much which kept me coming back and back to this poem.”

Congratulations to both of these poets, and also to everyone who made it onto the shortlist.

Ben’s poem features in our anthology, Strange Encounters, due to be published on Amazon in July, and Roan’s poem features in Pick Me Up, also due to be published in July.

An anthology of the Bournemouth Writing Prize 2022 shortlisted entries will be published later in the year.