by Angus Cronin Harrison, Brisbane State High School, South Brisbane
It’s always there.
Staring at me like it doesn’t have eyelids.
Its sapphire blue eyes are beautiful,
Its black feathers remind of a shadow,
That follows me everywhere.
It opens its beak and screams,
Like someone in terrible pain.
I run for my life.
Yet it follows.
Yet THEY follow.
I keep running and try to find a way to escape.
But then I am suddenly consumed by the dark swarm of evil.
And once they finish,
The crows will hunt once more.
This year’s Paul Sherman Award entries showed a great deal of creativity. What struck me was that though the poets’ topics were diverse — tackling war, the environment, family — the poems themselves cleaved to more traditional verse forms. Throughout the entries, we had lots of word-music, rhyme and rhythm. The poems that stood out as winners were the ones who used this music most subtly.
It will be no surprise to hear me say that I read a lot of poetry. It might be stating the obvious, too, to hear that I read some pretty literary fiction. But the books that really, really excited me in childhood happen to be the ones I still reread most today: Harry Potter.
I thought I’d share with you my two favourite pieces of advice JK Rowling gives to young writers: “Read everything you can get your hands on” and “be ruthless about protecting your writing time.” The poems here suggest the start of lots of promising careers in writing. Poets, make sure you each cast Patronuses around your creativity; protect it and foster brave writing by challenging yourself: read fantastic and fantastical books and poems.
Three poems were highly commended this year: “Metaphorical Poem”, which experimented with the power of metaphors to evoke feeling; “Dragon’s Lair”, which constructs a fantastical narrative; and “The Girl Who Made the Rivers Run Red”, a spooky poem with a great rhythm.
This year’s third-place winner was “Four Seasons”, which employed a modified haiku form to chart the changing of seasons throughout a year. This poem uses evocative images to set a gentle pace. In second place — and with a fantastic title — “Singing at 52-Hertz” is an emotive poem combining a conversational tone with experiments in rhyme.
This year’s Paul Sherman Award goes to “The Crows”, a short poem evoking the tense mood of Hitchcock’s The Birds. I loved this poem for the quiet sense of humour in its melodrama; its powerful, creepy imagery — “It’s always there/ staring at me like it doesn’t have eyelids”; and its easy free-verse rhythm.
Thank you and congratulations to all entrants, but especially to this evening’s prize-winners.