National Poetry Competition
Joint Second Prize


Matthew Sweeney
A History Of Glassblowing

The records show that in Shanghai
at the end of the Yuan Dynasty,
the year 1364, a glassblower blew
a mermaid that came to life, and swam
away. And in Cologne, in 1531, a team
of glassblowers blew an orchestra,
instruments and all, and these played.
Then on Hokkaido, in 1846, a blind
monk blew his own Buddha to pray to,
and the next day he was able to see.
In Natchez, in 1901, a glassblower
blew a paddleboat with gamblers in it,
one of them lying dead. And in Oaxaca,
in 1929, a small version of the Sierra
Madre was blown, with golddiggers
on its lower slopes, and the whole
town filled with gold. In Letterkenny,
in 1965, a woman blew a flock
of glass sheep, wool and all, each
of them with a tinkly baa. In 1993,
in Séte, the harbour glassblower
blew a lighthouse with its own light,
and in 2004, in Timisoara, three
glassies blew a new solar system
that they let float up and away.

Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal and has since lived in Berlin, Timisoara and London. He is currently based in Cork. His latest publication is The Night Post – A New Selection (2010). Previous collections include Black Moon (2007), Sanctuary (2004) and Selected Poems (2002). His children’s collections have been published by Faber and bilingual poetry selections came out in Germany and Holland in 2008, with others in preparation in Poland and Romania. Matthew Sweeney is co-author, with John Hartley Williams, of Writing Poetry, and editor or co-editor of several anthologies.

Read the other poems...

First Prize:‘Robin In Flight’ by Paul Adrian
Joint Second Prize: ‘Wish' by Josephine Haslam

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


Matthew SweeneyMatthew Sweeney