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The Inpress London Book Fair Poetry Prize 2016

 

Inpress are delighted to announce the winner of the Inpress London Book Fair Poetry Pavilion Prize 2016. The theme for this year’s prize entry was INTERNATIONALISM and it was judged by Amy Wack, poet and poetry editor at Seren Books.
 
We welcomed entries from anyone who works in the international book industry or who is attending or working at the London Book Fair as an exhibitor, visitor, student, stand builder, caterer, designer, cloakroom attendant, author, speake.
 
First prize was awarded to Jacqueline Saphra's poem ‘Cheap Late Night Fusion and How the World will End’, with second place being claimed by 'Coarse fishing with the President' by Mark Fiddes.

 

Cheap Late Night Fusion and How the World will End

 

With poison, I suggest. We must avoid tuna:

top of the food chain, mercury-infused, GM crops

and phosphates, beef pumped full of hormones,

 

milk shot through with penicillin. Over soup,

here’s news: my daughter’s learning

Mandarin, my dog is into broccoli, I never win,

 

the Chinese coal refineries spew their waste

into the Pacific; hence my tuna crisis. Ava

tells me tales of OK Cupid, stupid bosses,

 

false economies, her cat, while two night workers

dressed in day-glo knock back silent shots of sake;

perhaps they’re listening to us. Bird flu, I posit,

 

warming to my audience, as their wooden swan

sails in, its fishy pink and orange cargo glowing;

will they eat that? It doesn’t look too fresh.

 

Ava’s sceptical: even bubonic plague was just

a passing purge. I’m hungry but my Tom Yum

doesn’t smell so good, nor her miso. Ah, fusion:

 

always a risk. The two men do their quiet thing

with chopsticks: maybe they’re intrigued to hear

our conversation: poetry and sex, the bitterness

 

of prizes, wages of success, doomsday of course:

always a winner. Water wars, I suddenly suggest.

Ava looks up. That’s more than possible she says.

 

The two stewed men begin to laugh. At us? I smile

across the tables’ distance, hoping they don’t take it

the wrong way. The grey one raises his glass.

 

Alarmed, I fiddle with my hair, look out into the dark.

Ava, meanwhile, lists the obvious: climate change,

nuclear apocalypse or meteors; takes out

 

her phone, shows me a photo of a bloke she met

on match.com. I place my bets on loneliness:

extemporise on babies wasting in their cots

 

for want of touch, citing some article I read.

The staff are closing up, time to re-enter night.

I say this world will end from lack of love

 

and all its fallout. Bah, says Ava, if that was it,

we’d all be long gone. This one’s on me.

She lays her money on the table, takes my arm.

 

 ***

 

Coarse fishing with the President

 

“Why the bare chest Mr Putin?”

 

Behind us, salmon bounce the falls

Sideways, backwards, upside down

Flipping as if the rocks were sizzling.

He’s giving me that whipped dog look.

 

“You must feel the sun upon your heart.

It is Russian sun so it makes you strong

Like a bear or a city or a larch.”

 

Anti-machismo snow starts to fall

In big doily cake shop flakes

That fade on his oh-so-tattoo-able torso,

slippery clean as a hard-boiled egg.

 

The salmon now vault like acrobats

In harlequin jackets flashing on and off.

Putin slips down his camouflage fatigues

To silver underpants, legs like trees.

 

“In Russia, our fish don’t swim,

They dance. All animals dance by law.

Even our donkeys and foxes.”

 

Now we’re at the abyss, how will he fish?

A rod and fly, maybe strangulation?

A couple of grenades would do the job

Although crossbow is more his style.

 

But it’s too late. A spiked fin protrudes

From his chest and rainbow scales glitter

Around his neck and scalp. His feet

Have ribbed into a mottled fan.

 

The President of the Russian Federation

Scythes through the thundering spume

To gavotte around a pink bellied sockeye

Who Merkels back with quivering gills.

 

 

 

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