Thanks to all of you who sent in poems this year. We received over 800 poems, so we're very grateful to all the contributors, and to Andy Croft from Smokestack Books and Mary Sayer from Unite for doing the difficult job of choosing the winners and the other poems to go into this year's anthology.
The five winners are Helen Burke; Martin Hayes; Fran Lock; Alan Morrison and Steve Pottinger.
All the poems will be posted up shortly. Mary Sayer said this about the competition:
This is my second year judging this much-needed and extraordinary competition. Again, I was struck by the passion, the urgency and the sheer hard work driving people to write these poems. So many of the entries were beautifully put together, often with a story that demanded to be told and with artfully refreshing humour.
The poems all reflected the fact that we find ourselves in such bleak and alienating times – making this type of competition more crucial than ever. And this year we had a particularly healthy number of entries from women and from young people – again, a reflection of deep, unvoiced feelings from those hardest hit by today’s increasingly rampant inequality.
So, thanks to all of you passionate poets out there – keep them coming! If I had my way, it would be like Alice in Wonderland: “All are winners and all should have prizes”
And Andy Croft said this:
At a time when the British poetry world is sinking under the weight of so many self-promoting vanity projects, it was a pleasure and a privilege to able to read so many moving, witty and well-written entries to the Bread and Roses competition. While the poems ranged in subject-matter, voices and styles, they shared a radical common-sense that social inequality is worse than ever, that government is remote and hostile, and that only in collective work and struggle can we begin to imagine another way of living.
The best entries try to describe the tectonic historical plates beneath the surface of everyday life, making connections with other poets, other readers, other histories and managing to avoid nostalgia, helpless anger or generalised pity. I really hope that Culture Matters is going to publish a big anthology of the best of these poems as a follow-up to last year's wonderful On Fighting On anthology.
On Fighting On is still available for sale here.
Mike Quille is a writer, reviewer and chief editor of Culture Matters.