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Journeying Poetry Competition 2023 Winner Announced

Journeying Poetry Competition 2023 Winner Announced

Monday 18th December 2023

The Judges are pleased to announce, Wendy Stickley with her poem, Jill is the winner of Journeying's third annual poetry competition.

She hugged trees, did my whacky friend,
she talked to bees and flowers ... and trees.
She was the first 'friend of the earth' I knew.
She grew her veg organically, did nothing
much mechanically, but everything
with love. Summer evenings she would walk
up on the downs, with child and kittens
in a pram, six goats, bells tinkling, and a dog
following like lambs, through harebells sprinkled
at her feet, sweet scent of honeysuckle in the air.
Yes, there was love, and love to spare.
She had capacity, audacity, to love all
things; to rise above sorrows as if on wings.
She baked bread without bitterness, used heart
not head to listen; taught me we're a part
of something greater. Later, then, there was
no trace of anger, when the diagnosis came.
Life without her has never been the same.

The judges write...
This year's Journeying poetry competition was on the theme of soul friends. The judges enjoyed the variety in content and structure of the entries and would like to thank all those who participated.

The winning poem draws in the reader through its vivid descriptions and strong imagery.
This 'wacky' friend appeals as someone who lived well and to the full. We can visualize her strolling on the downs with a child and kittens in the pram (humorous touch), at one with her surroundings and appreciating all their beauty and variety. Yet she not only loves nature, but also cares for it responsibly - a challenge to us presented by the writer in remembering her soul friend. We find ourselves wanting to know more about Jill and the nature of her friendship with the poet; there is plenty left to the imagination. The twist of the knife at the end is a shock jolting the reader into the grim reality of suffering, death, and grief. This reaction is intensified by the poignancy of lines like 'to rise above sorrows as if on wings' and 'she baked bread without bitterness'. The writer captures the uniqueness of Jill and the humility of their special friendship ('we're a part of something greater'). Here is a woman who had the 'capacity and audacity' to love 'with love to spare'. What resources she had, but where did they come from? Another question for the reader to ponder. Technically, the poem is well crafted with the use of subtle rhymes indicating a lot of time and effort in its composition. Ultimately, it leaves the reader with a beautiful portrayal of 'this friend of the earth' who understood people ('used heart not head to listen'), lived a life in harmony with her environment, and did 'everything with love'.

David Arkell and Phil Craine
(Competition judges)

This is the second year that Wendy has won the Journeying poetry competition. In 2022, Wendy took first place with her beautifully crafted sonnet, Iona.