The Frogmore Poetry Prize Winners 2005

Adjudicators Report
and winning entries


I went through three major sifts to arrive at this list and as I put them in numerical order during the second sift, for no good reason other than to try and read them in a different order and see how it changed my perception of them, I realised from the numbering that often I'd selected more than one entry by the same poet. I mention this because what made the poems I've selected stand out was language and what they had to say. There were many well written poems that nearly made it but too many didn't take me anywhere. The first prize winner, ‘The Loch at Harray’ (Julie-ann Rowell), jumped out of the first sifting and stayed with me. I hadn't decided at that stage it would be first, although as I kept thinking about it and the effect it had on me as I read and re-read it, I knew it would be my choice. It's a poem I'd love to have written - so subtle, quiet, meditative but troubling. I love the movement of this poem from the light opening the end of the loch to the long dive following the equinox. I love the way the standing stones become pointing fingers and the confident, lyrical assertion at the end of the poem.

The third sift left me with more than twenty poems divided into the first ten and the rest. I sat on them for a while, took them to France even, shuffled them around and took hard decisions about sentimentality, whether the poems were saying anything, whether I cared enough about them. Some could have started later or ended earlier. The first runner up, ‘It's Only’ (Pat Borthwick), like ‘The Loch at Harray’, creates a mood out of the landscape. The language isn't so lyrical but it's engaging, slightly offbeat. I like its confidence, the way it flashes sometimes and pulls everything together at the end. The second runner up took me longer to decide on. Eventually I went for ‘Train Spotting’ (John Terry) because it is surreal, funny and it plays with words, ideas, pictures, popular culture, colour and movement. It's very clever and made me laugh. In my selection, I tried to find poems that I felt were true, not literally of course, but true to themselves and that live within themselves.

Jackie Wills
August 2005

The winner, and runners-up
THE LOCH AT HARRAY (Julie-ann Rowell)
IT’S ONLY (Pat Borthwick)

Shortlisted entries
THE CUTTERS (Angela Cleland)
IDEOGRAM( Alex Smith)
CURIO (Jane Weir)
(Josephine Brogan)
INFECTED WOUND (Charles Evans)
JULY 1969 (Maria Bradley)