WWI poem wins UK poetry award

tags: Guardian (UK), World War I, United Kingdom, poetry, Great Britain



A poem inspired by her late mother's stories of the first world war, which has drawn comparisons with Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, has won the poetry journal Agenda's editor Patricia McCarthy the National Poetry Competition.

McCarthy, who has published several poetry collections of her own, beat 13,040 other entries to win the anonymously-judged prize. Her winning poem, "Clothes that escaped the Great War", tells of the plodding carthorse who would take boys away to war, and then return, later, with just their clothes. "These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes / piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone," writes McCarthy.

Judges and poets Vicki Feaver, Nick Laird and WN Herbert said they were first struck by the poem's unusual title, but then drawn in by its atmosphere. "We loved the journey it takes – both literally, as the horse and cart piled high with old work-clothes trundles down the lanes, and metaphorically, as these clothes come to represent the ghosts of all the young men lost in the Great War," said Feaver. "It follows on from the wonderful poems written by poets like Owen and Sassoon about their war experience, to show the grief of the women left behind."...



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