Winner

This time last year, I was a mess. This year I had three pieces of really good news. Three!

I found out I have been shortlisted for a poetry competition. A member of the Canterbury Christ Church University library team contacted me last week, and asked me to attend the award ceremony. Last year I came second place in the competition and felt bad I didn’t attend the ceremony (if you haven’t read my entry, Feral Youth is here). I wanted to go to offer support.

So, the ceremony started and who ended up being the winner? Me!

Incidentally, how long have I been turning my feet inwards during photo opportunities? At least since 2014, I think.

When announced I felt my face heat up. I had a little panic because I couldn’t remember my entry so I wasn’t sure if it is something I’d feel embarrassed about others hearing. Luckily, the poem wasn’t read out but I missed the judges feedback on the poem because I was internally bracing myself to hear my words. I became a little bit afraid when I heard the poem was called Imposter.

I chatted to the staff briefly but then had to head off to work for a focus group I was taking part in.

I beavered away at my work until mid-afternoon. A person I met recommend I go to Augustine House to introduce myself to some local companies and talk to them about the work I do and perhaps look into them attending an event I am organising next year. Brilliant. I turned up and went to speak to Unitemps about an application I had put in for a casual second job. I hadn’t been shortlisted and it was slightly disappointing to hear, especially as the person doing the shortlisting knows me through work. But I figured it’s OK because I jokingly said to my partner earlier that morning I’ll start taking my writing seriously again if I win first prize.

While I was visiting I spoke to an ex-colleague who advised me that they tried to email me and didn’t get a reply. It was then that I figured my university email address was still active so I logged in to see what was happening. Most emails were spam but I replied to the important ones and sent my new contact details to them. A few moments after that I got my second job rejection of the day. I felt deflated and spoke to a few other people before heading home.

En route I decided to work on the bus. I got a different bus to usual and sure regretted it! It was rowdy and someone kept pressing the stop button so it took longer than usual. I noticed an email from a company I had submitted writing to last month – it turns out they were thinking about creating an anthology and asked if it was something I would consider being part of. Today was turning out better than imagined.

I got home and watched some television. I started feeling unwell, but as I had a day of unexpected highs and lows in addition to being in anxiety-inducing situations I figured I just needed some rest. I thought I’d check my emails one last time because there were a few outstanding enquiries I had with some of my contacts.

What do you think I saw when I opened my emails?

Another writing opportunity. It turns out a piece I pitched for Mslexia‘s For The Love Of It earlier in the year has been picked up. Wow!

Code

My penultimate month
In university
And I’ve finally found the courage to face you

We met last year
I had been avoiding you for some time

Refusing to work with you
Asking colleagues to deal with you

Over time we were introduced
I was in awe of your capacity
But always at fault

Months later people were asking me about you
Making requests I did not want to complete
I didn’t know how to begin

The stress pulsed at my temples
I resented you

But I knew that it was not me that broke you
It was the person before me
And the person before them
Who brought you in with no knowledge
Of how you work

I had to sit down and tear you apart
I saw how you were put together
But more than that
I saw the gaps in you that nobody noticed

And felt anger that you were corrupted

Deep down, there was no order or reason
To how they treated you
I hope I can fix you before I leave

A portrait of the artist as a young woman

My advice to any young poet
Is Own It

People will tell you you’re not good
Or worthy

They’ll list bards and beauties

There is always someone they’ll measure you against
And you’ll come up short

Your anger will be coarse
Your sadness will be seen as weakness or self-indulgence
Your joy shallow

Any emotion you lay claim to with be labeled naïve

But this is how the world works

Youth is mistrusted and mocked
Age is respected

Look around at everyone who has power
You’ll see a pattern
Like a rhyming couplet

Don’t follow suit
Be you