What a pleasure to receive so many excellent entries. It was a hard job making the final decisions, but in the end the winner and runners up were decided by consistency in quality of the collections as a whole. There were many individual poems in other entries (too many to single out here) that were memorable, and which would certainly make an impact in a single poem competition, but the requirements of a chapbook or pamphlet are strength in depth, and that was evident in the work of the poets listed below.
Hilary Stobbs winning entry was the one I kept returning to. My attempt to cut down the number of adjectives to describe her work was a failure – I needed them all. Spare, lyrical, haunting, exquisite, musical, intriguing and just plain beautiful. Her portrayals of living women chimed with poems taking as their starting point fragments from the Chinese (an imaginative tour de force), as did her explorations of the real lives behind female protagonists of famous paintings. Other poems conveyed a sense of place with an immediacy of detail which often felt like shorthand for something much deeper (and occasionally threatening). Brilliant stuff. A very accomplished poet and I am delighted to be the first to publish her work in book form.
Fran Baillie has successfully accomplished the feat of a complete collection of poems in dialect (in this case Scots). The poems were not always easy to figure out for a non-Scots speaker, but her gallery of portrayals had that powerful feel of homing in to the bone that is unmistakeable.
Elsa Fischer submitted a collection of great variety both in subject matter and style, from the minutiae of the domestic and female to the world of myth; from poems about artworks to close observation of life in a retirement home. Evocative and moving.
Jane Hollingworth’s account of the progress of a love affair, taking us from passion to stillness, was absorbing, and had strong communicative power. Great to read off the page, and probably even more impressive when read aloud.
Sarah Wright was one of the few entrants who used formal structure and rhyme to convey the quality of her observational skills in a way that was subtle and unobtrusive, but added power and memorability to her poems.
Thanks to all for your submissions – it is so encouraging to be made aware of all the talent that is out there among the poetry community of older women.