National Poetry Competition
First Prize


Paul Adrian
Robin In Flight

Let’s imagine for a second that the robin
is not a contained entity moving at speed
through space, but that it is a living change,
unmaking and remaking itself over and over
by sheer unconscious will, and that
if we were to slow down the film enough
we would see a flying ball of chaos,
flicking particles like Othello counters,
air turning to beak in front just as tail transforms to air behind,
a living being flinging its changes at a still universe.
 
This would require infinite alignments. Each molecule
privy to the code of its possible settings,
the capacity of a blade of grass to become
the shadow of a falling apple by pure force
of the tree’s instinct. Every speck of world with the potential
to become stone, dog’s breath, light twisted through glass,
filth under fingernails, the skin’s bend at the bullet’s
nudge the moment before impact,
the thought of a robin in flight,
the thought of the thought of a robin in flight.

On winning, Paul Adrian commented: "The National Poetry Competition is wonderful in its democracy:  open to all, professionals and amateurs alike, and judged anonymously, it focuses solely on the strength of the poetry. The calibre of the past winners is truly intimidating. Winning it is a bewildering, terrifying honour, and a tremendously flattering endorsement. It felt like somebody snuck into my head when I wasn’t looking and rearranged all the furniture. I’m waiting patiently for the judges to realise their mistake." 

Paul Adrian was born in Leeds in 1984. He is an unpublished poet, though at the age of ten produced a single-copy hand bound collection of poems, Aliens Ate My Poetry, which won the Froebelian School (Form 4) Poetry Prize. This is the only prize he had won for poetry until winning the 2010 National Poetry Competition. He has been the Books Editor of Leeds Guide Magazine and currently is in charge of Accounts and Institutional Sales at Waterstone’s, Leeds. Paul saw the entry form for the National Poetry Competition pinned up on the notice board in his local library and decided to give it a try.

From the judges...

George Szirtes: "Paul Adrian’s robin is a living fragment of the universe, an aerodynamic form that takes its place among the other miracles of the universe, including our thoughts about it. It comes at us with a comprehensive freshness, both tough and exhilarating, a new voice on its own rising flight path."

Read the other poems...

Joint Second Prize: ‘Wish' by Josephine Haslam,‘A History of Glassblowing’ by Matthew Sweeney

Commended Poems:
‘Visiting The Country of My Birth’ by Carmen Bugan
‘juju baby’ by Caroline Carver
‘Boy With A Knife’ by Vicki Feaver
‘The Sleep of Wasps’ by Giles Goodland
‘Joy’ by Ann Gray
‘Tonguesplay’ by David Thorley
'Stubble' by John Wedgwood Clarke

Email: Robyn Donaldson
Telephone: 020 7420 9880


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