Saturday, 30 September 2017

400 entries from all over the UK

Settle Sessions' 2017 competition drew over 400 entries from all over the UK - and produced a very high standard selection.

The winners were announced by judge Kim Moore at our September evening. Kim said she was very impressed by the quality of entries. She explained that she looks for poems that she herself couldn't write.

We reproduce the poems by the three prize winners with the shortlist of commended entries. We were delighted and a little humbled by the excellent poems entered. Congratulations to the winners and those commended, and thank you to everyone who entered. We'll be launching our 2018 competition next Spring.

You can see a review of the evening at the end of this list. We also thanked Jean Harrison for all who work on Settle Sessions. She started the venture some five years ago and has driven our programmes ever since, bringing top quality poets and writers to Settle.

First Prize:  Caroline Price from Framlingham, Suffolk

(Baby mammoth, Natural History Museum)

You lie so peacefully you could be
sleeping, soundly, on your side
on the white sheet rucked and folded like
the Yamal snows. Your flank
exposed, each ridge and wrinkle in your hide
quite visible, the colour of wet sand or the clay that set
around you when you fell, legs stretched as if you
toppled in mid-thought, still walking, four feet
trampling at the air. Your trunk curled in
protectively, its two soft
flanges of skin preserved, a miracle,
for our speculation: imagining you
thirsty and using them to sweep the snow
into your mouth, flakes spilling, hanging
in a premature moustache. Your domed head
calm, your month-old weight at rest within its
shadow-shape of cloth and foam as it was when you
keeled over in the Siberian wastes and closed your eyes
and died and more snow fell and turned
the mud to ice, encasing you;
and you lay in your bed
for forty thousand years – the time it took for us
to arrive, for the earth with a gasp
to thrust you to its surface as the reindeer herder
and his sons came hurtling past with their sledges and dogs
and tripped on the cracked-open
crust of knowledge and found you.

Second Prize: Vicki Bertram from Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Stanley, the white cockerel,
motorised helmet plume,
cavalier ruff lifting
at the stiff dance he stamps
to show off his spurs-

Stanley is dead.

He was a gift
with Lucy the goose, inseparable till
her ganders muscled him out and
he found his place in the pecking-order,
chivvier of hens.

No more crowing
and it is the season
for his pre-dawn, drawn-out
over-blown, monotonous

Snowdrops shiver
as wind rakes iced scrub,
seeking his ragged call
to tear spring’s silence,
shake bulbs awake
to poke white through darkness.

No corpse, of course.
A few drab feathers snared in wire.
Remember the girls chasing him,
that comic scoot behind the sycamore?
The crinkly labial scrunch
of his foppish coxcomb?

Our latest loss. Minor, of course.
We closed the door too late.
The bright light of him gone.
Fell and field and walls and rock
pulse absence.
Like a home in early new year,
denuded, or this vista suddenly
dull green again, snow’s white glory
vanquished by rain.

Third Prize: Kerry Darbishire from Kendal, Cumbria

A Winter’s Night
(after The Song of Wandering Aengus – W B Yeats)
Geese safe inside, I shut the door
and turned into the frosty night,
left settling chatter, rustling straw
four still white wings tucked warm and tight.

The Plough above the sycamore
and Seven Sisters clear to see,
the green and red lights in the north
like sailors’ lanterns on the sea.

Then in a breeze I lifted through
November branches high and bare,
bones needle-thin and shining new
my feathers glided brimmed with air.

The moon a scythe upon my back
and frozen scent of earth below,
my cattle shrunk to mice and rats
as I flew silently as snow.

Though now it seems I’m almost blind
in trodden pathways long ago,
in hope I’ll search until I find
tracks in a land I used to know.

Commended poems
Wish I were here now       John Foggin       Ossett
Witchcraft at Belvoir        Tina Negus         Grantham  
Heatwave                          Mary Jane Holmes     Lunedale
An old man’s reply to Jenny Joseph           Bill Adair     Stirling

Bumble bee                        A.F. Paterson         Poole
The school trip                   Kerry Darbishire   Kendal

Multidrop                           Peter Wyton           Longlevens, Glos

Review of the evening 

Poetic abundance

400 hundred poems winged their way to Settle Sessions during the Summer to take part in their second national poetry competition. Coming from across the UK and covering a variety of styles and subjects competition judge Kim Moore finally selected: ‘Emergence’ Caroline Price’s winning poem which vividly described the finding of a baby mammoth, whilst Vicki Bertram’s second prize eulogised her departed white cockerel in ‘Silkie’ and Kerry Darbishire’s took third prize inspired by WB Yeats in ‘The Winter’s Night’.

Kim continued the evening with new work, drawing from her transition away from 13 years of teaching in ‘Leaving Teaching’ and no longer needing to ‘pull a perfect b flat from the air’ to examples from her new poetry sequence, ‘All the Men I Never Married’, including calling out the sexist behaviour she still encounters.

Calder Valley based poet Carola Luther describing herself as ‘not a jolly poet’ gave a sample of her work with poems blending her former life in South Africa made contemporary with the news of the death of a former friend, her observations of women seeking economic survival through prostitution in ‘Commerce Madrid 2012’ and highlighting the impact of recent flooding in ‘The Rising’. 

Sarah Wiltshire 

The next Settle Session will be on Friday 17th November at 7.30pm (venue to be confirmed). It will feature two well know local writers Jean Harrison and Sue Vickerman. Both published poets and novelists, they will be reading from their latest work. Sue recently spent a year in China and has produced a book of her experiences.

The evening will also include young local poets who took part in the Tom Twisleton Project. This commemorates the centenary of the Settle artisan and dialect poet. The new work is in response to his work and celebrates local life today.

Tickets are £6 available from The Folly, Cave and Crag and The Cheese Centre Lawkland. For more information please see


media information from Veronica Caperon 01729 824537