with her poem JUDY COLLINS
Pauline is an Irish/Welsh mixture from Liverpool who has lived in the North East of UK since the 80s, where she brought up her family. She has worked in Poland and Sierra Leone where she developed a programme of creative writing at the university there. She is a founding editor of Mudfog Press, a community press in Teesside, and has several collections of poetry published, most recently ‘Bint’ (Red Squirrel Press): a long narrative poem ‘From Here To Timbuktu’ (Smokestack) and a collection of short stories ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ (Red Squirrel). She teaches creative writing for the Open University and is a semi professional cook. She is currently working on a novel.
was me, walking around London
barefoot, my growing up underdone.
My hair was a sheaf of corn, like hers,
my eyes kohl-rimmed. I gave myself airs.
No vesta curries or nylon sheets
no sliced bread without whole wheat.
I lived in a squat, lit by candle-light.
Her voice, gleaming and white
sang of rain and loneliness.
I cultivated melancholy and loss,
left behind the News of the World,
my mother’s perms
my conscience and its albatross.
My sails were unfurled.
WHAT THE ADJUDICATOR SAID
This was a poem I always knew would make the last few. It remakes the sonnet with unobtrusive skill. I loved the use of half-rhymes, the writer’s wry humour as she (I assume) looks back at a youthful self branching out to the strains of the ‘gleaming, white’ voice of Judy Collins (a stroke of genius to transfer the epithets from the teeth to the voice) undeterred by ‘my conscience and its albatross’.