“Dear Friends, hope this finds you well.
“Just to let you know that I won the Basil Bunting Poetry Award (it is the first time they had run the award). Which means I won £1,000 and the editor of Bloodaxe (a poetry publisher) will look at my work. I went up to Newcastle to receive the award. I'll probably spend the money on some more poetry mentoring!
“You can look at the results - and find out about Basil Bunting - on their website www.basilbuntingaward.co.uk
PS - here is the poem:
The Coat Cupboard
Once you close the door, once you’re in, you’re small
like you’ve shrunk – no window, no view of sycamores,
cattle or an aqueduct – a stand-alone place
big enough for one. The walls and the back of the door
are lined with coats, two or three deep, hanging
on high brass hooks: gabardines, parkas, macks –
the smart black coat your father never liked, the knitted
afternoon jacket that might’ve belonged to your aunt,
and shoes unevenly stacked, so that you almost stumble
and twist your ankle on the heel of a brogue.
You don’t push your way through to discover a landscape
where beavers can talk; you’re not reunited with your lover
coming around the headland in a ship – your face
is pressed against lambswool, which smells of camphor,
ink and dogs. Some of the pockets are torn; you have to
fish inside pearl-coloured linings yellowed with age.
Some of the cuffs are frayed. Your fingers,
which have become unaccountably small and white,
ferret inside the pockets of a waxed raincoat, among coins
and balled-up silver paper, folded receipts and pencil shavings.
And there are shadows between the coats, long scarves
of shadow that disappear when you touch them
like crows flying up from a field. You find a set of keys
without their brightness or warmth of handling –
the leather keyring almost worn through at the hoop,
an aluminium badge with a profile of a swan –
and a lipstick your grandma must have used, the 50’s pink
when you wind it out, still shaped to the curve of her lip.