Eyes on the Prize

Bridport PrizeFor poets and fiction writers, there is just still time to submit that work of inspiration for the Bridport Prize.
(Entries close 31 May)

By Gill Capper

Last year, The Bridport Prize for poetry and fiction had 15,000 entries from 90 countries, which makes it all the more extraordinary that Bridport itself has produced a significant number of those winners over the last few years.

Ellie Madden (now Sturrock), who is a familiar figure flying around town on her bike wearing colourful outsize spectacles, was a runner-up for the prize in 2005 with her poem, Pie. [Click on link to read the poem.] She was inspired by her win to found the poetry group Some Bridport Poets (who acquired their name when Ben Fogle was stuck for a way to announce their performance for the inauguration of the Arts Centre’s new chairs).

And two of their current members – Elaine Beckett and Sarah Barr – have also been successful in the competition.

Sarah Barr was a runner-up in 2010 with her poem, Clearing the Ice, and she also won the Dorset award in the same year. The Dorset award is given to the best single piece of work – poetry, short story or flash fiction – written by a Dorset resident who has been shortlisted in any of the three main categories. In 2012, it was awarded to Elaine Beckett for her poem, For Roy.

Virginia Astley, known to many Bridportians as a busker in Bucky Doo Square who plays the flute, with her daughter Florence on harp, was highly commended in the poetry category in 2013 for her poem, How did I ever think this would be OK?. She also took the Dorset award that year and has now published her first pamphlet, The Captive Harp, with Southword Books.

So be inspired, Bridport. (Entry forms in the Arts Centre)

By |May 16th, 2015|Gill Capper, Poetry|0 Comments

Pie – Ellie Madden, 2005

I want to eat pie with you.
Sedately, with knives and forks at first,
With tablecloth and napkins
And proper sauce.

A splash will land in your hair
And I’ll lean across and pull it out
With my fingers.

which I lick

A pea will roll off the tines of my fork
and onto my brown wool skirt
and you’ll push your chair away
and it will scrape across the floor
and then you’ll put one hand
on my knee
and I’ll feel your warm breath
through my skirt
as you pick up the green sphere
in your red mouth.

I’ll tense my thighs
and probably drop
the aforementioned fork,
so that it clatters onto the plate
catapulting a piece of pie
which will fly
and land on the floor
splattering brown sauce.

The tablecloth has gravy decoration.
The pie dish is smeared with congealing protein.
The sink is rolling around with pies, peas, plates and pastry.


I’m as hungry as I can imagine.

I want to eat pie with you.

Ellie Madden, 2005

By |April 17th, 2015|Poetry|0 Comments

Clearing the Ice – Sarah Barr, 2010

My mother’s twin aunts drink tea with her in the sitting-room.
They are no-nonsense, plain-speaking northerners.
It’s doubtful these methodist aunts will want gins

but my father hacks at the white mass
which has billowed round and ‘chockered’
the ice-making compartment of our fridge.

Clearing the ice is a habit he resorts to in times of crisis
such as now, his younger daughter’s marriage.
I expect he remembers how the twin aunts demanded

back the loan from my mother’s mother
when she became a widow, with two children.
He won’t go into the sitting-room, and neither will I.

Sarah Barr
(from the Bridport Prize 2010 Anthology)

By |April 17th, 2015|Poetry|0 Comments

How did I ever think this would be OK? Virginia Astley, 2013

Here we all are at the wedding party,
your sister has married my ex,
the one I left for you,
this winter’s afternoon they married,
in that same riverside church, your sister
pale and gorgeous, Russell in his kilt.
His mother and his sisters are here,
downing rum punch in the lounge.
They seem to avoid me, possibly
because I was the one who slung
his bass guitar into the Thames.
That was before you and I were,
before London and Liverpool,
before Oxford and Monmouthshire.
But the last time I was in this house,
I can hardly speak, the last time,
was the day we buried you.
And I remember your father,
who had never bought your CDs,
breaking down in Tower Records.
And that day, your poor body,
the only thing the same, your hands.

Virginia Astley, 2013

By |April 17th, 2015|Poetry|0 Comments

For Roy – Elaine Beckett, Dorset Award Winner 2012

Twice round the block in sheeting rain,
up windy hill, in all weathers
he’d parade the rows of bungalows

with a smile, or a kind word,
as if he were in charge
and in a way he was;

first to notice if lights were still on
beyond half past ten, or someone had parked
a car by the blackthorn hedge,

he’d store it all up for a conversation
with anyone, anyone willing to pass
the cold time of day.

Jean is at her window trying to make sense of it,
how it could have happened like that,
all of a sudden, like that.

Elaine Beckett, 2012

By |April 17th, 2015|Poetry|0 Comments