Young Poet

6th November 1998 at 00:00
Payal Patel's poem was always going to stand out. But in fact there's more to the poem than first meets the eye. It's unusual for unusual layout to suit the subject matter, as if the poem happened to grow that way, and for nonce-words actually to say more than the ones you find in a dictionary. What is most unusual though is the combination of energy and precise image:

"flogging the branches", for instance, and the confident repetition, and best of all the sudden change of mood in the middle when "the heart tremblesin its heavy little house". It makes the poem more than just a startlingly fresh way of looking at the moon, or talking about insomnia. This time of year, seeing a full moon, I'll remember that "witchwax lamp in the dark".



the glim

skyweed slides

over the starfish sea,

and the foggy boulders slope

over the blue black ocean

over your head

and the honing wind cuts corners

slapping the flage in a gaunt light

flogging the branches

over and over

and the heart trembles

in its heavy little house

and you slip out

and you look up

at that witchwax lamp in the dark

crossing the gloved palm of heaven


as five pence in a figgy pudding

and you wish

you wish you could sleep.

Payal Patel

Payal Patel, aged 11, receives 'The New Poetry' edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley (Bloodaxe). Submitted by Jane Panter of Appleton School, Benfleet, Essex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send poems to 'The TES', Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Ann Sansom is writing tutor at Doncaster Women's Centre and is a part-time lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. Her collections include 'Romance' (Bloodaxe)

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