Hamish Canham Prize 2014
Winner: Suzanna Fitzpatrick

‘Conversations With my Father’ by Suzanna Fitzpatrick has won the 2014 Hamish Canham Prize
for best Poetry Society members’ poem published in Poetry News between summer 2013 and
spring 2014.

Suzanna Fitzpatrick, by Hayley Madden for the Poetry SocietySuzanna said “I’m currently taking a career break from my day job as a freelance academic editor to care for my son, and it’s hard to find time to keep my writing going. Winning the Hamish Canham Prize is incredibly affirming, and gives me a huge push to keep it up.” As this year’s winner, Suzanna receives £300.

Suzanna explains, “The poem is from a sonnet sequence written for my parents and exploring the effects on the whole family of my mother’s illness. I wanted the strict form to counterbalance the strong emotion in these poems and, as sonnets, they are also love poems to my parents.” The judges Carole Satyamurti, Kate White, Paul McGrane and Sophie F Baker all agreed that the poem was a very well handled balance between heart and head, wearing its formal structure with a lightness of touch that gives the poem great feeling.

Click here to read the Press Release

Suzanna Fitzpatrick
Conversations with my father

Sometimes you call me on your own, now Mum,
drugged up, sleeps more. I ask you how it goes;
you speak of broken nights, pain’s ceaseless hum,
new side effects. But what I want to know
 
is how you’re doing. People rarely ask
the carer how they manage all the tasks
dictated by an illness not their own;
a job for life that no-one ever chose.
 
You dodge my questions deftly, like the fly-
half you once were. I shouldn’t be surprised –
we’re all performers now; our cheerful smiles
a non-slip legacy, parent to child.
 
I say that you sound tired. “No more than usual”;
and my heart breaks, although no more than usual.

Pighog and Poetry School Pamphlet


Read about the history of the prize and past winners.