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Winners announced for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Poetic Licence

Ben Simmons

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On November 2 , Jerwood announced this year’s winners of the 2021 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship one of the leading poetry prizes in the UK!

About the Fellowship

The Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship focuses on supporting artistic experimentation over the production a particular work or outcome, the Fellowship provides the opportunity for real artistic growth outside commercial pressures, giving poets time and space to focus on their craft. By challenging the popular conception that art prizes should recognise achievements over potential, the Fellowship champions change in art funding practice in the UK.

This year in its third and final edition, the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship has been awarded to Romalyn Ante, whose first collection of poetry Antiemetic for Homesickness was published by Penguin last year to critical acclaim and who is also a full-time nurse, the trans/crip poet Jamie Hale, whose poetry pamphlet Shield explores disability, Covid-19 and treatment prioritisation; and multi-disciplinary artist Dzifa Benson, a performance poet whose work has been performed at the Old Vic, Royal Opera House, Bush Theatre, Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, Kew Gardens and the House of Commons.

Romalyn Ante’s debut collection is available here.

Dzifa Benson’s performances for Oxford House are available here.

Jamie Hale’s pamphlet Shield can be purchased here.

 

A poem by Dzifa Benson

For the Love of Hendrik de Jongh, Drummer from Batavia

i

In the beginning,

he was my lord

of the 6 weeks.

When !Kaub showed

the dark side of his face

again, I had to slough off

my lover’s name.

ii

You are on the other side of the water.

Here, my forehead touches only air.

I map the radiant places of your body

the seams of my skin brittle and ablaze.

iii

Even when the rise and fall of our ribcages insist

we are still here, I try to live above the flood.

I breathe you in. You breathe me out. The world,

in rain-wind and dilate-sun, leans in to learn

which way to carve the howling sweep of years.

iv

You asked: What parts of you are unknown to me?

I answered: This too muchness of self in its not enoughness.

v

Day empties through us as a Cape sugarbird sparkles thinly

                                                                        in the shadows.

You let me follow you into your dreams. Vast night looks in,

                                                                        open-mouthed,

leads us by a nose of buchu into its fluid corners on the //Stars Road.

                                                                         Our eyes don’t close.

I want to bury the chameleon of this love in a secret place                                                                                                                   of nerve and sinew

while we wait for the mantis to sing the !Great Hunger to sleep.

vi

If I arrived at your voice again would it fatten

         into a new kind of passing time,

pour down my back into this thousand years

         hollow of my spine? Your memory breathes

warmth over my skin. My body catches it

         like when our astonished spirits

were every crashing leaf on every tree,

         when our hallowed hands cupped

soft curving and fingered lean meat.

vii

You never left. We endured. I was still denied.

viii

My I was him.

In order to live

I had to use

the knife

between us.

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