2006 William Soutar Prize Winners
Tessa Ransford was founder and organiser of the Scottish Poetry Library 1984-99; founder and organiser of the School for Poets 1981-99; editor of Lines Review magazine 1988-99; and winner of numerous awards including the OBE, Royal Literary Fund, Scottish Arts Council, Howard Sergeant, Heritage Society of Scotland, Saltire Society, and the Society of Authors. Her comments on the leading prizewinners appear below, and she also selected a number of runners up which will appear in our forthcoming pamphlet.
Work with Cabbage
"This apparently objectively-written recipe has only one line in eighteen with a personal adjectival pronoun in it: Lift and fold your hands in a rhythm of prayer And that is what this poem is itself: a rhythm of prayer. Not only is the rhythm hypnotic, but the sounds are assonant and sensuous, the imagination is captured, the voice becomes more and more intense, the climactic last line is perfect – a truly memorable line: Taste it drained and trailed through oil. There is no word in this poem that could be changed without spoiling the whole. There is no space in it, no tedium. If imagination is the ability to project yourself into the essence of the other, then the author of this poem must have been born in a cabbage patch. The presentation is interestingly divided like a sonnet into a longer first stanza - of eleven lines, not eight as with the sonnet, followed by a shorter second stanza of seven lines, not the sonnet’s six. It is not fourteen lines and not rhyming. But it observes the dialectic of the sonnet, whereby the second stanza is hinged onto the first. And the poem is clinched in the last two lines as with a Shakspearean sonnet. The title is also poetic. It is not simply cabbage, or cooking cabbage, (it avoids the clichйd present participle title too,) It is work with cabbage. This implies a loving creative involvement, in short poeisis itself. A wonderful winner."
"Talisman is a caustic, cutting poem presumably in the voice of Medea, who, having helped Jason,
the Argonaut, in his achievements by her magical powers, is abandoned by him, your need to be a hero, your honour –
and in cold-blooded revenge kills her children by him. This is not stated. The only clue is the Argonaut, and the Jason/Medea
story is the hinted-at metaphor for the woman’s/the writer’s supposed situation, silenced and rejected. I’m set adrift in
the doldrums/that stretch between the text/you permit, like holes in fabric,/ worried at, un-mended.
"Belonging is a deceptively quiet poem, where a sense of knowing oneself is immensely strong: a self that observes, is both part of and apart from the business of life, the framework of time and tension, and the wholeness of nature at ease with itself. In a sinuously flowing twenty-one lines a scene is conjured sensuously, visually and intellectually. There is a subtle change of key towards the end: I watch – we watch – where unity and duality are suddenly juxtaposed before the final extinction as moths lured too close to our hot dazzle/flare for an instant, fizzle into smoke."
In addition to the winning poems, the following entries will appear in the TWO! 2006 Pamphlet: