So pleased here at the Leaping Word that ‘Oystercatchers’, a poem by our very own Deborah Harvey, has just come home with a shiny penny in its pocket, having been awarded first prize in the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition.
Of the competition, Judge Pascale Petit says: ‘I love short poems, but I know how hard they are to write, so it was with trepidation that I read this longlist. I need not have worried – the under-ten-liner is in good health. The challenge is to go as far as in a long poem, without the length! It’s all about compression and impact, making words as elastic as possible.
‘Oystercatchers’ does just that – every word is weighted. In ten short lines I see a figure like Leonora Carrington’s ‘The Giantess’, a powerful and spare enigma of a woman, oystercatchers, (with their red bills and legs), and blood cells. Although nothing is explicit, something important is being enacted, and the epigraph by Camus adds an anchor, so that we guess his are the words being taken to the sea and released from the heart. I kept coming back to this and getting more from it.’
The Leaping Word would like to extend its congratulations to the other winners in both categories of the 2018 competition, the Open and the Short Poem, and to all the short- and long-listed poets.
‘Oystercatchers’ will be included in Deborah’s forthcoming collection, The Shadow Factory, to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this summer.