Great Escapes: Poems From the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2013
There are moments’, reflects Rhoda, one of Virginia Woolf’s characters in The Waves, ‘when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now’. Poetry is like Rhoda’s bubble. From nothing, the poet fashions an entire world of meaning and sensation. Poets and readers enter that imaginary, frangible world to escape the ‘here and now’, and, since we must always return to the ‘here and now’, a good poem must equip us better to deal with, or understand, it. Whether it’s the music in which ice-cream-factory workers find sanctuary, as Philip Williams suggests in his prizewinning poem ‘The Elvis Shed’, or a painter’s quest for truth, as Andrew Rudd’s poem, ‘Hiroshige at Work’ shows, the poems in this collection provide many alternate ‘worlds’ into which we may escape.
The Cheshire Prize for Literature was inaugurated in 2003 as the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature. It is funded by the Bank of America and is administered by the University of Chester. The 2013 competition was for poetry, and this collection contains poems by 26 of the shortlisted poets, including those of the eventual winner and runners up. Details of the Prize are available at: www.chester.ac.uk/literatureprize
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