2020 POETRY COMPETITION

Lady Gray

IT GIVES US GREAT PLEASURE TO PUBLISH THE NAMES AND POEMS OF THE WINNERS OF OUR 2020 LOVE in THE TIME OF COVID POETRY COMPETITION:

ADULT CATEGORY

First Prize Anthea Garman for her poem When I get out I will order a repeat supermoon

Joint first prize Pamela Williams for her poem – Isolation

2nd prize – Christine Coates for her poem LOCKDOWN BRIDGE

3rd prize – Adre Marshall for her poem Remembering

Highly Commended Award John Ellis for his poem Cruise Ship

YOUTH CATEGORY

Joint First prize – Zindi Van Zyl for the poem Asblikkinners

Joint first prize – Rozadin Fortuin for the poem The Covid Test

Merit Award for Achumile Ntabeni  for the poem Stuck in a shack

Merit Award for Shiba Phiri for the poem Huh! What’s to love in the time of Covid?

MAGDALA AWARDS

The Magdala Awards highlight poetry as a creative practice that awakens the Poet. In the process of writing, poets connect with their true nature,  open an inner eye to see what is real, and speak from their deepest ground of  belonging. Through the –Magdala Awards we remind ourselves that the  journey of maturing as poets is also a beautiful pathway of evolving as human beings. The widest purpose of all is to nurture the traditional role of poets as Wisdom Keepers.

First prize – Seamus Wilson for his poem Sonnet

2nd prize – Gillian Rennie for her poem Ever After

3rd prize – Ghaireyah Fredericks for her poem In Die Tuin

 

YOUTH MAGDALA PRIZE

Juanita Marks –Bayman for her poem Being Love in the Time of Covid

TEMENOS AWARDS

for poems highly commended by our judges:

Mike Kamstra A McGregor poet) for his poem Love in the time of Covid

Risha Lötter for her poem Isolation

Winners of the Patricia Schonstein Poetry in McGregor Award

Joint Winners 2020

Chris Mann for his poem A farewell in advance of death

Ilze Olckers for her renderings into Afrikaans of Rumi’s Zero Sirkel, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s Liewe Verdonkerende Grond

 

Acclaim 2020

Lionel Abrahams (1928-2004) for publishing, during the height of apartheid, the poetry of Oswald Mtshali and Mongane Wally Serote, through his Renoster Press, thus heralding the emergence of black poetry in South Africa; and also for his own contribution to the South African canon.

POEMS OF THE FINALISTS

ADULT CATEGORY:

Social Distance

ek het groot geraak,

jou hande kan my nie meer hou nie

ek skrik nie meer as jy my voor die beord gryp nie

nie as jy my nagte uit jou huis sit nie

nie vir jou kil woorde wat my altyd laat huil het nie

ek het bitter geraak

jou hart kan dit nie hou nie

nie my verwyte nie

my onvergewensgesindheid

die woede wat ek daagliks in kweek nie

jy’t drome vir my gehad, Daddy

ek was jou sagste kind

een wat nooit teё praat nie

nooit t’rug slaan nie

die een wat vrede vra

maar, Daddy, my hart kon nie die lewe se punch vat nie

ek was nooiy sterk soos jy nie

ek het geknak, my Pa

die breek het hom jare as heel vermom

en my têksnommer is tevergeefs

my ou UIF bydrae kan nie brood in die huis koop nie

hier kom nie meer mense by my nie

is nie oor gremdeltyd nie

nie oor masker of sanitizer nie

jy hoef nie te sê jy’s teleurgesteld nie

die jammer in jou oё as jy my kyk

sê dit daagliks wanneer ek jou melk tee

in jou groen PEP koppie in die garage loop afgee

daar was distance tussen lank voor COVID

jy sug

ek is nie soos jy gedroom het

ek sou wees nie

jy draai my nou in watte toe.

By Lynthia Julius

When I get out I will

Order a repeat of the supermoon

and it will be pinker and huger and brighter and kinder and softer

than any moon we ever saw before

because we missed it

We’ll sit on the rocks at Dassiekrans and watch

because we will be out,

and it will be out,

and the dog

– especially the dog –

will be out

for the supermoon

pinker and brighter and kinder and softer

By Anthea Garman

CRUISE SHIP

a homeless cruise ship

lies quarantined off my balcony

huge and white by day

at night rows of purposeless lights

it faces north

as though it cannot bear

to look upon the harbour it

has been denied

“north”

it’s purpose in normal times

“north”, filled with songs and beer

some nights it turns slowly upon its anchor

and the breeze brings me

the faint hymns

of the skeleton crew

By John Ellis

Isolation

To an extent

this childless couple

had made children of each other,

filling the felt space – the emptiness –

with small endearments, little courtesies

and, carefully avoiding fruitless blame,

remained together in their disappointment, though alone.

And when, skin chemo-browned,

ill-fitting borrowed wig askew,

she hesitated – mirror – shy –

he gently touched her cheek

and told her she was beautiful

they were together in their suffering, though alone.

And now, stalking the ward,

the dreaded silk-shod dragon

grips his chest with tightening claws

as he, determined to survive,

coughs tired rasping gasps

while she – separated from him by distance only –

draws deep healing breaths on his behalf.

And so, in isolation, they are still together, though alone.

BY PAMELA WILLIAMS

Remembering

 

I think of you always when I cook courgettes

and not, I’m afraid, when Bach’s Goldberg variations

ripple out in the night; Dvorak and Schubert can’t do it

no, not even Beethoven’s late quartets

Do I think of you looking across False Bay, with regrets,

watching otters in gullies, gannets spearing into the sea

while paintbrush flowers splotch orange along the path

and sky flares apricot as the sun sets?

Do I stroke passing Daschunds, your favourite pets,

and think of you finding in rock pools those Cecil Higgs paintings?

No, but you once told me never to cut them, it spoils the flavour

so I think of you always when cooking courgettes

Now, in a time of Covid, I’m the one who nets

memories of the past, meanders on the mountain

rock pools morphing into paintings, apricot sunsets with you

and most of all, eating buttery unsliced courgettes

By  Adré Marshall

Lockdown Bridge

 

We’re playing bridge now as we did then

before TV or money to dine out

or movies. You taught me Honeymoon Bridge until

we met a couple. They fought Clubs and Spades.

To keep the peace I partnered her, you him.

We studied each other across the bias, Hearts,

Diamonds. You called. I responded. Rubber –

the night you didn’t have one. Contracts and Conventions.

Our baby slept in a carry-cot besides the card table until

our friends packed for Perth. Finessed. Outbid.

Auction. We bought our first house, had more

babies. Cards forgotten, you climbed the

corporate ladder. Sometimes it seemed we lived

in a house of cards. Cards dealt, we held them close,

Bid and Bluffed, counted points.

But now in lockdown, we find

the cards again. Read them. They tell of

Tricks and Triumphs, of bridges

we’ve crossed, water

flowed under.

By  Christine Coates

 Ek wil

(vir my leerders)

Ek wil jou vashou

en vir jou sê alles

gaan okay wees,

maar ek kan nie.

Jy staan 2 meter van my af,

maar jy voel ver weg en ek

kan jou nie beryk nie.

Ek sien jy is bekommerd.

Ek weet jy is bang.

Ek is ook.

Ek wil jou beskerm

En jou veilig hou,

maar ek weet nie hoe nie.

Jy lyk verlore in al die spasie.

Jou stem kraak wanneer jy

met my praat en my oё traan

terwyl jy wegloop.

Dit voel asof ‘n deel van my wegraak.

My hart breek met elke tree wat jy gee.

Ek wil jou vashou, maar ek mag nie.

By  Adré van Lill

When I get out

 

The sun dips, duties done,

and the twilight urges us to our closing rituals:

drawing te curtains,

checking the windows –

this one open, that one closed –

moving through newly darkened spaces

and switching them one-by-one to light,

while closing the walls in a little tighter

to guard against the night.

But when I get out

I will watch the sun dip at the end of the day

from a spot on the hill where the big blue sky lives.

I will breathe in the quiet, cool air, and breathe out.

I will watch the sun dip at the end of the day,

and as the  azure sky turns to tones of fire,

I will breathe in, and hold …

to ignite a fire within to fuel bravery for this strange new world.

I will watch the sun dip at the end of each day

from up on the hill where the sky is vast and most radiant.

By Pamela Vale

This poem has its roots in the first morning of the CV-19 “lockdown”. I woke up to a brilliantly still morning. The surface of the lake in front of my home was like a silk covered pond. However, it was the silence that struck me.

  

An unfamiliar silence

It was the stillness –

the silence that woke me.

Not the silence of night,

or grief, or the quiet emptiness of the quayside –

for the ship, long gone, was out of sight.

No! This was the silence of a thief

Fingering her way into my sleep.

I stirred –

Was that a breeze?

Or was it the deep Earth – sigh of relief?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Now awake

I heard the silence of the promise of an unborn child,

felt the stillness of an unruffled lake –

a virgin state

upon which the fate of that child

lay in waiting –

a new world was waiting.

Could this be the silence of the second, or third,

or, perhaps, the final Coming?

By  Ian McCallum

The flesh of words

These days we wade through

our routine in silos of silence

that begin or end with digitalized

hellos or  goodbyes

Death revels brazenly in data

compiled by diligent strangers

whose woes are sanitized by

imperatives or endurance

We wait endlessly segregated from

Each other’s lives, captives of an

Implacable intruder scornful of

stature or station

Still in this confinement

it is the flesh of words we

desire most, far from promises of

respite or remedy

By Abu Bakr Solomons

the eyes have it

 

in a surreal space of empty street

boarded up shops and solitary

hurrying figures

we orbit familiar paths in an unfamiliar world

the waters of or lives dry up

with the old bread

our eyes represent us

bespectacled, narrowed, sunken

bewildered

offering covert glances

anonymously in our armour

we are passing ships in a locked down universe

a nod is tentative

too late

lost in concertinaed folds

smile with your eyes

I don’t know how

I practise in front of a mirror

an angry primate, teeth bared

the mask holds firm

outside I select my target

attempt the eye smile

connect, brief but steady

lock on

we have contact

a flash of sunlight

an experience shared

By Sue Woodward

Isolation

To an extent

this childless couple

had made children of each other,

filling the felt space – the emptiness –

with small endearments, little courtesies

and, carefully avoiding fruitless  blame,

remained together in their disappointment, though alone.

And when, skin chemo-browned,

ill-fitting borrowed wig askew,

she hesitated – mirror – shy –

he gently touched her cheek

and told her she was beautiful

they were together in their suffering, though alone.

And now, stalking the ward,

the dreaded silk-shod dragon

grips his chest with tightening claws

as he, determined to survive,

coughs tired rasping gasps

while she – separated from him by distance only –

draws deep healing breaths on his behalf.

And so, in isolation, they are still together, though alone.

By Risha Lötter

Ever after

This is new

the way the garden steps

into this body

takes by surprise every sense

The man next door daily now

plays ball with his daughter

filling the drums of these ears

There! she calls and

the ball falls, a flat note, but

Well done! he sings and

her feet chase the ball’s rolling tune

She squeals, delighted

as am I

as I watch the laundry dry

so this is how sunshine can quench a tongue

Now the father stops playing

to build a fire to braai so that

Monday smells like Sunday

I should weed

I could read

but the cats lead me to exhale

to see in every squeal

the earth

cracked

waiting to pour

 

By Gillian Rennie

Hard Lockdown

The dogs are dreaming more,

since lockdown started

and walks ended.

Before, they slept silently, deeply,

an occasional twitch of a paw

or an eyelid.

Now they are taking their missed walks

in their sleep;

paws flexing, muscles twitching,

barks issuing from deep

in their dream-tight throats.

Tails wag, ears twitch in greeting

in these dream runnings;

freedom, long grasses,

hadedahs berating from overhead

and a clear dirt road disappearing

towards the sunset.

 

By Jeanne McKean

POEMS OF THE FINALISTS

YOUTH CATEGORY:

ASBLIKKINNERS

Deur die strate van laatnag sondes

en vroeë-oggend skofte

hoor ek kleutervoete klap

oor die gebroke teer.

Hoewel die magies leeg is,

is die hartjies vol;

gevul met ‘n onbekende lied

wat die gemeenskap verhelder.

Voor die son oor die koppie kom loer

en met sy goue vingers

oor die egalige riwwe

van my vier blink mure kan streel.

Hier in die strate van vrees en vergetelheid

waar gesinne skaars is

en kinders volop

vind ek my plek

tussen die ander uitgeworpenes.

Nie een van ons hoort hier nie,

maar ons almal hoort saam.

 

By Zindi van Zyl

The Covid Test

Introduced me to the book of fear

new words ……

A vocabulary so dark

it spins the world another way

Lock up is lockdown,

Pandemic.. is the new demonic

Sanitizing the new sanity

fear …  the new hope

hope and fear …fear and hope

as in the dark we grope

for the new anti….

anti this, anti that… antidote

It is now on the  anties that we  dote

New metaphors of war

A new enemy out there…

Questions looking at answers for:

how  to fight

do  battle

control,

lock up,

bury and

to  hate

But they do not teach

The one thing I wish to learn

Not a whisper…not a word

not a mention

Not one question

on

How to love

in this time of Covid

By Rozadin Fortuin

LOCKDOWN!

… and I’m Stuck in the Shack.

The clocks begin to stick, get stuck, then stop

And 21 days turn to

forever …

Stuck in the shack

Time moves on

and past my window she flies

tossing her kisses and goodbyes

to me, frozen in the frame

forever…

Stuck in the shack

The shack gets smaller and smaller

The people grow taller and taller

Mother, Cikizwe and me

no room to move

tethered together

forever …

Stuck in the Shack

The world stands stiff and still

Too frightened to move forward

Forbidden to go back

I want to jump off

But I’m….

Stuck in the shack

By Achumile Ntabeni

Huh! What’s to love in this time of Covid..?.

Huh! What’s to love in this time of Covid?

I wake up in the morning mourning

Grieving for my stifled youth

For our  stifled, repressed, depressed,   youth

That has been put on freeze  …

And you call us the born frees ..huh!

What’s to welcome each day

I don’t  feel welcomed

At school

Lining up

To take the Covid test

I feel like a jew

standing in an Auschwitz queue

Those who  pass

go through

those who don’t

off  to death row

Wear your mask..where’s your mask? … put  yours on properly, tighten it!

tighten it!.. tighten it more.  Speak up girl … I can’t hear you, you’re muffling your

words! ……that’s my teacher talking

Keep your distance, don’t socialise at break, don’t breath out, don’t talk, be careful

where you walk…….  she’s still talking

Why do you all look so miserable?  Martiner! Stop giggling-  laughing is infectious.

Shiba stop crying! Watch OOwt  your  tears are dropping to floor…wipe them up

quick. Quick I say… before they  make us all sick!….now she’s  shouting.

I loved you once….

In the time of  lockdown

So  delighted  to be  locked out of school

And Locked in

for months

just me my family and I

I loved you then……

Not now

By Shiba Phiri

POEMS OF THE FINALISTS

Magdala Awards:

Sonnet

I knew no love in the time of Covid.

The muse would have me not sing of such things.

I said: See the clouds bend to the earth now

and there’s chill wind and nipple above heart

beat and the passionate tone of the bou-

gainvillea, surely we can wrest something…?

Speak to the hand.

There are times, she whispered,

when its wasteful to sing in metaphors.

Let silence speak for itself in the realm

of cause.

So I turned with those around me

into myself and heard the song of God’s

infinite heart beating our footsteps  home

as we passed:

All is love and made for love

by love.

See the clouds bend to the earth now.

 

By Seamus Wilson

Ever after

This is new

the way the garden steps

into this body

takes by surprise every sense

The man next door daily now

plays ball with his daughter

filling the drums of these ears

There! she calls and

the ball falls, a flat note, but

Well done! he sings and

her feet chase the ball’s rolling tune

She squeals, delighted

as am I

as I watch the laundry dry

so this is how sunshine can quench a tongue

Now the father stops playing

to build a fire to braai so that

Monday smells like Sunday

I should weed

I could read

but the cats lead me to exhale

to see in every squeal

the earth

cracked

waiting to pour

 

By Gillian Rennie

In die Tuin

Ek sien ‘n man

verouderd en grys,
hy vat foto’s van sy vrou.
Haar gryshare kruip met trots

uit onder haar hoed
en haar helder uitrusting

verklap iets oor haar siel,
dis lig.
Hy vat kiekies oor bosse,

struike en deur rankende blare

en sy glimlag krul vriendelik

om die hoeke van sy mond.

Die spelerige fotosesie duur

vir nog so ‘n verdere tien minute voort

en vertolk ‘n hegte vriendskap

wat beskermend nyktinasties toevou

as die donker tye dreig.
Hy wil haar naby alles wat mooi

en kleurvol is hê.
Sy oog flits elke ses sekondes

en hy snap al haar laglyne, plooie
en sy blik gly oor haar goedversorgde gladde vel

wat die klein kussies van kielierige sonstrale waardeer.
Haar ken, wat op hierdie ouderdom bly grond toe kyk,
versterk ‘n skamerige jeugdigheid

wat deur SY lens en sy hart self ook dit van ‘n tiener weerspeël.
Die wip van haar neus lig hoog,

sak laag, swaai links en regs,
soos sy hom met haar statige gees verlei.
Hulle oë bly gevestig op mekaar en blink
met borrellende emosie van eeue op die mou dra.

Tans is 2020 vreemd, maar hulle is nie.

Hulle is tydloos vir mekaar.

 

By Gaireyah Fredericks

Being Love in the Time of Covid

The Covid – 19 pandemic … honestly,

caused me  to fear:

The fear of losing a loved one

Fear of us not making it as a country

The fear of dying,

It caused me to wonder if this life is truly worth living

This pandemic  ripped us from our freedoms

It isolated us from each other

Forced us deeper into poverty

And when we  could no longer rely on ourselves

It forced divided nations to join hands

It forced us to strengthen family ties

To bring out the best in each other

despite the worst of circumstances

In separating, isolating and bringing us  down on our knees

It gave us the assurance that in unity we rise

It  has afforded us  an opportunity like no other could

To know and value ourselves differently:

In  dark times to become the light

In an unknown future to be the path,

the acceptance, the beauty, the wisdom

and

the love

that we seek

 

By Juanita Marks-Bayman

TEMENOS AWARDS

for poems highly commended by our judges

Love in the time of Corona Virus

Captured in our Covid capsule,

Our horizons mountain ranges,

a hundred million years of rock

Aglow each evening in the sunset skies.

Our sun one hundred and fifty million miles away,

Itself reduced to dust by outer space

which measures all in light-years.

And man on earth—not one thousandth of a light-year even,

Created by accident—destroyed by avarice.

Less than dust.

Is this the end?

Our thoughts now channelled to lock-down space

Contract to view the small, the previously invisible

Each bird, each insect—their lives as intricate as ours,

Their sounds as secret as the sounds from Covid-hidden village life

Is this the end?

But with their secret whispers there comes—again—the WORD

As it was in the beginning.

And with the Word comes life.

And where there’s life there’s hope.

Who else, this very moment, distills from life’s subconscious maze

Forgotten memories,

But She,

My Woman, my life, my love, my all,

Recalls the very words of love and hope

Instilled by German Nuns at mission school.

Themselves a product of their times.

“Wir sind durch not und freude gegangen—

Hand in hand—

Das wir uns nicht verriren—

In dieser einsamkeit”.

“We tread our halting path

Together

Hand in hand.

That we not lose ourselves

In the great loneliness”.

 

By Mike & Jo Kamstra

Isolation

I think that I shall miss this:

the long faint trellises of gloom

and the spiky tendrils of aloneness

pricking deftly away at my afternoon;

the way I romanticised the hollowness

of where your mouth had been

the way I filled with languor

these echoing days, these

strange nightly harbours

wherein I cradled my own untouched heart.

I shall miss the expanse of this ungainly sorrow,

the vastness of imagining

a world at large.

I shall emerge from my cocoon unmasked

exchanging the imagining for flesh

and in the face of our ineptitude,

our half-said words, our searching hands,

I think that I shall miss

this half-remembered solitude.

BY RISHA LÖTTER

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Leila Witkin, one of the patrons of our Poetry in McGregor Festival, we are thrilled to announce the theme for this year’s competition.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID

The competition is open to published and non-published poets.

There are two categories OPEN and YOUTH (writers under the age of 18).

Poems may be submitted in English and Afrikaans.

Poems should not exceed 36 lines.

  • In the OPEN CATEGORY we will award a first prize of R5 000, a second prize of R2 000, and a third prize of R1 000.
  • In the YOUTH CATEGORY there will be a first prize of R2 000, a second prize of R1 000, and a third prize of R500.

Entries are now open and may be sent to mcgpoets@gmail.com    with the subject title Competition – Youth or Adult category /Your surname

CLOSING DATE is 30th of September 2020.

Due to current circumstances, we are short staffed, so NO CORRESPONDENCE will be entered into regarding the competition.

The poems will be judged by external well-known poets, and their decision will be final.

Finalists will be announced mid-September and winners at the launch of our 2019 Poetry in McGregor Anthology.

Hopefully, this will take place in October or November, in McGregor, depending on our Lockdown situation. The date for this event will be published on this website as soon as it is finalised.

Thank you to the following Sponsors for their support of Poetry in McGregor events

Share This Page, Choose Your Platform!