Thursday, June 18, 2020

Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry 2020

Congratulations to Tania Stokes, who has again won the Senior Poetry Prize, named after Old Columban Peter Dix, who was killed in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. The sculpture marking the prize is kept in the Library, and inscribed with the names of past winners.

Here are two of her winning poems.

‘The Lockdown Dichotomy'

The neighbourhood felt like a meadow
And I was a wandering sprite,
Bending my eye on the tiniest blooms
With a pioneer's sense of delight.
I skipped in the middle of glistening roads,
Chasing them into the haze—
Each time they would roll off the end of the world
So I wandered their length with my gaze.

Then bustling into the vacuous forum
I wondered at how all was still...
But a revenant cloud must have stirred overhead
When the quiet was cast in a chill:

The sun trickled off from the windows above;
Shadows around became cold;
Loneliness sucked at my heels like mud;
The strangeness was made manifold.

I slunk away from that desolate scene,
Headed for hearth and home.
But ever I saw the streets in a shroud,
This cold, unwavering gloam.


‘Shadow Stream’ By Tania Stokes

On quiet nights there is a shadow stream,
A well-kept secret sneaking between lines
Of forgotten cottages, fleet as time.
By day it runs right beneath our noses,
So obtuse is the prattle of traffic
Bridging the fisherman's subtle angle.
But now, being fettered and infested,
Driving home at night is no one's business.
Once more the silence of antiquity
Sits in the dry, grey hours after dusk
And from crepuscular halftones issues
The shadow stream, as smooth as worry stones.
Water like a cut of silk softly folds
Over pebbles, pooling in crevices,
Slipping beyond knowing under the bridge.
Down here, down in the darkling river bed,
Where the hush goes deeper than the water
And is just as clear, the susurration
Of a lone heron lifting off upstream
Nestles in the ear as a close sound might,
Nearer to the low snuffling of shrews...
Few are the patrons of the shadow stream:
Even as this town's sleep begins to thaw,
The waters bending to their fading realm,
The number of them dwindles, growing thin,
Until the stream is lost to memory
And once more is a shadow in the din.


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