Press release: 19 July 2005

The Hamish Canham Poetry Prize 2005 - 
new prize for poems by Poetry Society members

'Loudness' has won the second annual Hamish Canham Poetry Prize for poet Judy Brown. She only resumed writing last year after a 13 year interval and 'Loudness' is the first of her new poems to be published. Brown studied English and American literature at Cambridge and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne universities before moving to Hong Kong. She now lives in South London.

The Hamish Canham Prize was inaugurated in 2004, and is awarded every year for the best members' poem published in the Poetry Society members' publication Poetry News during the preceding year. A remarkable child psychotherapist and writer who had a passion and enthusiasm for poetry, Hamish Canham co-edited the Journal of Child Psychotherapy in which he included a marvellous discussion of Philip Larkin's 'Aubade'. He died in 2003 at the age of 40 and the annual prize of £300 has been generously endowed by his parents in his memory.

Canham's other theoretical writings included reflections on how the reading of a poem can be illuminated by thinking about it psychoanalytically. In 2002 he and Carol Satyamurti co-edited Acquainted with the Night: Psychoanalysis and the Poetic Imagination, which features an excellent paper by Canham on Seamus Heaney. Sadly he died before the book was published.

This year's prize was judged by Carole Satyarmurti, Dr and Mrs Canham, and the Poetry Society.

- Ends -


Judy Brown

After bad news, and its pulled-back fist,

flows in a sound that's not a sound. It's not

the brain's tide beating blood in propped

and shored-up workings, not the tapestried

texture of attended silence, the goffering

of quiet air folding and unfolding

in a house where nothing is happening.


After bad news, you tell the seconds,

hungry for the hurrying thunder

that never comes. Instead a chemical fizz

fills the ears, before the descaling. An angel

rides the stirrup and anvil, spurring on the drum,

works like wild weather in wet sheets,

flapping and cracking the body's flat muscles.


Long after the bad news, when it's bedded in,

you notice most clearly the mild loudness

of the not-so-old man in the foot tunnel,

drumming and drumming and biting his mouth.

The posed coins in his blue cloth

are tiny, like a cast handful of earbones

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