2011 Ipswich Poetry Feast

On Friday night I attended the Ipswich Poetry Feast Awards evening…for the fourth consecutive year as a prize winner which was very exciting! This year three of my poems won prizes, ‘Chrysalid’ was Highly Commended in the Open Category, ‘Final’ won second prize in the Local category and ‘Limestone Park’ won the Ipswich category.

All the poems are now up at the following site:

How wonderful also to see such a strong showing from my fellow City of Ipswich poets Brett Dionysius and Vuong Pham who took home a share of the prizes. Please check out their poems – in particular Brett’s dense and brilliant sequence ‘Heartland’ and Vuong’s beautiful shape poem ‘Petrichor’.

And now, the poems…

Second Prize
by Vanessa Page
Rosewood, Qld

Coming over the seven mile bridge
the Bremer River was still kissing the road,
the contents of its belly hung like scarecrow
detritus, out on the fence posts to dry

You’d lain in state like a crumpled love note
for bleached hours after the waters receded
deep in a row of quiescent post-wars,
ants working round you like a bicycle chain

When I arrived there, you were softened
by the end of day’s orange-sherbet glow
your gaping nightgown flannel like a husk
and your hair as sudden as a final wing-beat

In the kitchen, birthright was already placing
its claim on your crystal set, cutting words
with bee-sting mouths and shaking out the
sum of you like an embroidered sampler

I pick up your hand like a beaten stone
and even now, broken and gone, you fix all this.

Judges Report:
2nd Place: Final by Vanessa Page

Final is a poem of aching loss. The opening images create a haunting atmosphere, which is skillfully maintained throughout the poem. As we reach the Seven Mile Bridge, the Bremer is ‘kissing the road, the contents of its belly hung like scarecrow detritus’. This image of a scarecrow’s spilled belly, prepares us for the image of the body that lies ‘like a crumpled love note’ inside its post-war home; ‘hair as sudden as a final wingbeat’; but nothing can prepare us for the ‘bee-sting mouths’ squabbling over crystal sets and other human possessions. It is an image that struck a chord with me on first reading and continues to startle. With grace, the poet delivers a final couplet that moves us on from these ‘cutting words’ of greed, taking the hand of their lost loved one in a healing gesture.

Open Age Winner

Limestone Park
by Vanessa Page
Rosewood, Qld

Night is pulling close, one lungful at a time
so cold and so clear, at the top of Limestone Park

a fist of glow worm streets show themselves to
June’s dead sherbet sky, and the gloaming answers

you can cut perfect words from this looking glass sheet
one hand cupping the world and another lost in stillness

as transitions are made on porches all over the city
and evening is an avalanche of opened doors and ears

up here, floodlights have turned the trees into spectators
over children scooping and tumbling like confetti flakes

all around, endings and beginnings are being marked
out in tail light parentheses and keyless exits

as darkness falls, thick and familiar
over a thousand tin-lidded anthologies

Highly Commended

by Vanessa Page
Rosewood, Qld

This day is made for breaking.

I lie awake in myopic fug. Outside
my window, the agapanthus heads
are inviting deconstruction.

There are only incidental details left.

I inhabit the shadows like silk-sheen,
resting my fingertips on your objects.

Your pieces have grown into monuments.

There’s no fix for this.
No interventional gestalt. I feed each
hour by hand to a paper tiger.

I do not recognise the shape a week makes.

This day is made for breaking.

When I imagine my return, it will be by
increment. A thing of weight, measured out.

I’ll pour a litre of milk down the sink,
slide a curtain open
and the sky will shatter.

Judges Report:
Highly Commended: Chrysalid by Vanessa Page

On a day ‘made for breaking’, agapanthus heads invite destruction, milk is poured down the sink and the sky shatters as curtains are slid open. There is a sharp edge to this poem; many of the images cutting with the clarity of a diamond.


2 Responses to “2011 Ipswich Poetry Feast”

  1. March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

    “final” is wonderfully complete, and perfect. a closed circle.

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