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Fenland Poet Laureate 2017: The Winning Poems (part two)

We absolutely loved listening to all the winning poems at this year's Fenland Poet Laureate Awards, but we were really keen to give you all the opportunity to read them online too! With that in mind, here are some of the winning poems in the adult category. You can see the other winners here and here. Happy reading!

Highly Commended - Tony Bowland

messages of the birds

we walk away from the city

into the empty fen landscape

seems we’re the only things moving

then we’re surrounded by swallows

performing in figures of eight

to harvest insects from the air

a last feast before flying south

we watch silent under their spell

then a solitary crow calls

and I think of the ghost dancers

who believed birds brought messages

promising a new world to come

when the earth’s skin will be rolled up

the white man and his cities gone

and the buffalo will return

to roam free across the great plains

the crow calls and I remember

the ghost shirts in the museum

with birds and stars as talismans

and the heart breaking bullet holes

at wounded knee and standing rock

fear and the sacred polarise

here overhead fighter jets roar

a hare runs along the field’s edge

Highly Commended - Beth Hartley


I drive a fine Fen line

Where the grey and the blue meet,

As the border of land,

As if you might fall softly

From the edge, into the sea.

A meteorological blown abyss

The furrowed line of stratiformis

Mirrors the ploughed land below.

Winter empty, waiting

Taking in frost and favour.

I drive a Fen fog line

Where only the rise of the isle shows

History is obliterated by weather,

The lady is cloaked in mystery and murk.

Hidden from my view, an eerie image.

Without her, the prospect is more forbidding

I see I have relied upon her stone resilience

The floating lantern a symbol of home.

I drive this fine Fen line inside

Between the big blue and the big grey.

Every gearshift, every footstep,

My weather in meets the weather out.

Boundaries are blotchy, obscured;

Another border to navigate,

Another season to survive.

Until the spring – not sleeping as we suppose,

In swell and furled bud;

Breaks the dark line,

Probes the mist,

And shouts her green words onto the black earth.

Rising, I clear my throat to join the song.

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