It is with great excitement that we can now announce the results of the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition 2015.
Andrew McMillan had the daunting task of reading 161 initial entries and whittling those down to a shortlist of six before finally selecting our winner and two runners up.
The winner receives £1000, plus publication of their debut poetry collection in 2016, and 50 author copies. Our two runners up will receive publication of a pamphlet length collection and 30 author copies.
Winner of the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition:
The Knowledge Weapon by Annette C. Boehm (Germany)
- Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, And Other Troubled Creatures by Joanna Duffy (Hackney, UK)
- Continuous Present by Peter Wallis (Norfolk, UK)
- Boundaries by Michael Brown (Middlesborough,UK)
- The Opposite of Defeat by Ken Evans (Derbyshire, UK)
- More than you were by Christina Thatcher (Cardiff, UK)
This kind of competition asks a lot of the writers who decide to submit to it. First of all: do they have good poems? Then, do they have enough good poems to make a pamphlet? Then, can they sustain the accomplishment of a pamphlet into a full collection; with the different questions of voice, coherence and sustained ideas which the latter involves? Not reaching these points isn’t a question of skill, just of time. Given more time, the ones who didn’t quite have a strong enough pamphlet will get there, given time the ones who couldn’t quite stretch their pamphlet to a full collection will get there too. Every single poet on the shortlist is someone who will have a debut collection out in the mid-to-near future.
One collection stood out, for its singular voice, its dynamic images and the sheer force of charisma which comes through the pages. Congratulations to Annette C. Boehm and her collection The Knowledge Weapon. Often, when judging a competition like this, before committing to reading a collection as a whole, you might read a few of the opening poems, then the final poems, to reassure yourself the collection in front of you is going to be able to last the pace. Here’s a game to play with The Knowledge Weapon, when you get your hands on a copy: open the book on any page and try not to be impressed by the command of language, the dynamism of image, the thrill of subjects which are on offer. This is a poet who will be new to many UK readers, and we are lucky to be learning of her. It is rare, but so very welcome, that a competition such as this should turn up a poet with a collection which is already so honed, so tight and so ready for the reader to come in to its world.
Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of Bare Fiction, there will also be two new pamphlets from the shortlisted poets. Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, and Other Troubled Creatures announces the unique new poems of Joanna Duffy to the world; we’ll be seeing a debut collection from her very soon I’m sure. Continuous Present by Peter Wallis will be a pamphlet that contains gorgeous, lyrical and heartbreaking poems of twinship, the body; life as something tentative as well as tender.
Andrew McMillan (Judge)
Annette C. Boehm – Winner
Annette C. Boehm is a graduate of the Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her chapbook The Five Parts of Love – Confabulating Sappho was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2012, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in UK and US journals such as New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, elimae, Chariton Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts and others. Her manuscript The Knowledge Weapon was also finalist for the 2015 New Issues Poetry Prize, FIELD Poetry Prize, and the Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves as a poetry reader for the online journal Memorious.
My Boy Sherlock
The boy with the puppy-dog eyes tells me
he knows what’s behind the wall-papered door
our grandmother always keeps locked.
It’s where she’s hidden the body, it’s where
our granddad is. She’s stored him standing
upright in his Sunday suit, and hidden the key.
Palm-sized, dusty sunflowers cover the cracks
but grubby fingers have peeled
the paper off the lock to look. It’s just dark.
When the heavy hoover is running, the air
vibrates bare ribs, shuffles toe bones in the
black leather shoes. Bats live in that chest.
What we need, the boy says, is a skeleton key.
Annette C. Boehm, from her forthcoming debut collection ‘The Knowledge Weapon’.
Joanna Duffy – Runner Up
Joanna was born in 1991 in Swindon, and grew up in Marlborough in the Wiltshire countryside. She studied for her BA in English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, graduating with a first in 2013. Now based in Hackney, East London, she works as both a freelance copywriter and language researcher, and focuses on her own writing whenever she has a spare moment. Her debut poetry collection Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, And Other Troubled Creatures was longlisted for the Melita Hume Prize in 2015 under a different title.
Of the anthill
We grew up in the kind of neighbourhood
with currents that can drag you under if you
don’t leave before you’re twenty—no one
really sinks, but it’s not a suburb of strong swimmers.
She stays, I get away. I am a monkey shot into
space without the correct breathing apparatus
and she shrinks to an ant trapped under a bottle cap
—in the early infancy of a panic attack, your body
prepares a fight or flight response. You will not
know which it is until your breath is flying up
your throat too fast for your chest, or your feet
are suddenly closing down distant horizons.
As children we picked out pieces of this jigsaw town and
jammed them back in the wrong places, laughing because
we were still the puzzle-masters. I left dog shit on the door-
step of her mother’s ex-boyfriend’s porch, and she released
colonies of ants into car exhaust pipes so they could travel.
When I call from Taiwan I am watching
one crawl up my leg, and we both hear
the ocean roaring in the static
Joanna Duffy, from her forthcoming pamphlet ‘Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, And Other Troubled Creatures’.
Peter Wallis – Runner Up
Peter Wallis is an identical twin, born in 1954.
A former Eastern Arts Association Visiting Writer, and Primary School ‘Poet in Residence’, his poems have been published in the UK, Germany and New Zealand. He is three times winner of the Thetford Open Poetry Competition and has either won or been second in other competitions including the Scottish International, Capricorn International, and Norwich Open.
He has read his work at The Poetry Society, and on Radio 4’s Poetry Please, and has been widely published in magazines.
He is Submissions Editor for the charity “Poems in the Waiting Room”, which produces Britain’s widest circulating poetry periodical.
Ducks, plastic tea-pot, cups and pretend drinks;
we’ve graduated from the kitchen sink
to this sort of bronze position—standing
as we do, third/fourth in the family ranking.
Steven, Andrew, and finally, laughing,
“the Twins” playing tea parties. All sit in
four fingers of grey water in age order.
Poor Dad hoards old paper bags pushed under
cushions. Soap’s so precious he almost dry-cures it,
and if it’s found floating, he starts an absurd
inquisition. Then, in spite of protests,
rubs it through our hair to make a modest
saving on the use of cheap shampoo.
“Count Your Blessings” means this bathroom,
indoor loo, immersion heater, the chessboard Marley floor—
it means these whole four inches of the cooling war.
Peter Wallis, from his forthcoming pamphlet ‘Continuous Present’.