Poet Susannah Hart Selected UK’s Prestigious National Poetry Competition Winner

1935. Children playing cards in front yard in slum area near Union Station. Photographer: Carl Mydans / courtesy of the NY Public Library

“‘Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.” Maurice Riordan



Susannah Hart has been chosen as the winner of the prestigious National Poetry Competition, with her poem Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.

Judges Mona Arshi, Helen Mort and Maurice Riordan selected the winning poem from 16,659 poems entered into the competition from 6,979 poets in 87 countries, including entries from every EU member state. All of the poems were read anonymously by the judges.

Told in a single long sentence that intensifies the momentum and the sense of building desperation, Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy uses the dispassionate language of bureaucracy and policy to counterbalance the cruelty and descriptions of acts of violence in the poem.

Judge Maurice Riordan said of the poem: “Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.”

Susannah Hart’s win follows on from her acclaimed debut collection, Out of True, which won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah’s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London.

Susannah said of the win: “It’s a mixture of disbelief and delight. I’m genuinely astonished that I’ve won. I enter the competition almost every year and have been longlisted a couple of times, but you never enter expecting to actually win. I feel very honoured to join the list of winners. For personal reasons, it’s also great to have this particular poem recognised. I’ve been a primary school governor for many years and I think this is the only poem that has arisen directly from that experience, so it feels very special to have that part of my life acknowledged. I remember telling my governor colleagues that I had written a poem about the Safeguarding policy and I think they thought I was joking.”

About the poem, Susannah said: “The poem’s original draft came quite quickly. I did in fact go for a walk after reading the policy, feeling very upset by what it contained – what it needed to contain – and I found myself thinking about ‘all the horrible things that someone somewhere is always doing to someone else’. And then when I looked at the draft of the poem I realised I could make more of the bureaucratic language that was already in there, so I looked again at the wording of the policy and lifted some more phrases from it.”

Since it began in 1978 the National Poetry Competition has been an important milestone in the careers of many of today’s leading poets, with previous winners including Helen Dunmore, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison.

Internationally praised and recognised, the National Poetry Competition continues to see an increase in entries year-on- year (2019 saw an 18 per cent increase in poems and a 17 per cent increase in entrants compared with 2018). Awarding a total of £9,400 prize money annually, the competition recognises individual poems previously unpublished, in an anonymised judging process. The judges only discover the identity of the winner after making their final decision.

Nine other winners were also named in the National Poetry Competition, including Ann Pelletier-Topping for her poem Granddaughter Moves In (Second Prize, £2,000), Natalie Linh Bolderston for Middle Name with Diacritics (Third Prize, £1,000) and seven commended poets (£200 each): Joe Dunthorne for Due to a series of ill judgements on my part; Charlotte Knight for MOONDADDY; Mark Pajak for Reset; Rosie Shepperd for Letter from Kermanshah; Louisa Adjoa Parker for Kindness; Cheryl Moskowitz for Hotel Grief; and Gerald Smith for Where Dedushka Comes From. All the winning poems will be published on The Poetry Society’s website. The top three poems are also published in the Spring 2020 issue of the leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review.


First Prize for Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

SUSANNA HART‘s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London. She has won several prizes for her work and her debut collection Out of True won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah is on the board of Magma. She works as a freelance copywriter and is a long-serving governor at her local primary school. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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Poetry by Susannah Hart:


OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR YOU:

The next National Poetry Competition opens in May. Entry forms will be available online HERE. The closing date is 31st October 2020.


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SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Competitions, Events and Other News and Information

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

THE TISHMAN REVIEW is a literary magazine that publishes four times a year with a current call for submission open for the October issue. Submissions of short stories, micro and flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, book reviews, craft essays and art are welcome. “The Tishman Review pays all of our text contributors, according to the genre. Poems are paid on a sliding scale between $10 and $25 per poem. Creative nonfiction and fiction is paid a minimum of $10.00 for a piece under 1000 words and for a piece over 1000 words at .01 cents per word. Craft talk articles are paid at .01 cents per word.  While we realize this is a small payment, our hope is (with continued support and growth) to be able to increase the amount we pay.” Deadline September 15 for October issue. Details HERE.

HAUNTED WATERS PRESS “is the annual literary journal of Haunted Waters Press. Featuring works of prose and poetry, the journal is released in both print and digital formats in the fall of each year. Described as ‘one of the most compelling and beautifully illustrated literary journals,’ From the Depths was created to showcase and celebrate the writing of new, emerging, and established authors. We offer contributors several paths to publication.” Reading periods vary. Payment is 1¢ (US) a word or fiction and $20 a poem. Calendar and other details HERE.

THE ARTIST UNLEASHED seeks feature articles to inspire writers and other artists. These should be based on your experience. Pay $0.015 AUD per word. Details HERE.

LITERARY MAMA, writing about the many faces of motherhood welcomes submissions that are “rooted and inspired by the experience of motherhood.” Themes change monthly. Literary Mama publishes blog posts, book reviews, columns, creative nonfiction and essays, fiction, literary reflections, poetry, photography and profiles and interviews. General guidelines are HERE. Poetry guidelines are HERE.

THE BeZINE submissions for the July 2017 issue – themed Prison Culture/Restorative Justice – should be in by July 10th latest.  Publication date is July 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration. Please check out a few issues first and the Intro./Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. No demographic restrictions. We would encourage submissions from people who are involved one way or the other in the justice system and former youth “offenders.” Critique along with constructive suggestions or tested solutions and best practices are welcome. We do not publish anything that promotes hate or violence. Heads-up on August: The theme is Theatre. Deadline: August 10.

BLACK HEART MAGAZINE, We Heart Art will begin reviewing submissions in August for its anti-gun anthology. “In the wake of only our latest most-deadly shooting here in the U.S. – the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that left 50 dead and more wounded – we feel it’s time to take action. No more “thoughts and prayers.” No more fuzzy sentiments. No more excuses. No more bullshit. We’re looking for stories to include in an Anti-Gun anthology, which will wholly benefit the Gun Control Lobby. (See Everytown for Gun Safety for more info on our proposed beneficiary.)” Black Heart Magazine publishes poems, short stories, essays and narrative nonfiction  Deadline for the next issue is July 31.  Details for the magazine and the anthology are HERE.

SLICE magazine publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Details HEREIt’s current reading period for issue #20 closes on August 1.

THE WALLACE STEVENS JOURNAL (John Hopkins University Press) “welcomes submissions on all aspects of Wallace Stevens’ poetry and life. Articles range from interpretive criticism of his poetry and essays to comparisons with other writers, from biographical and contextual studies to more theoretically informed reflections. Also welcome are previously unpublished primary or archival material and photographs, proposals for guest-edited special issues, as well as original Stevens-inspired artistic and creative works.”  Details HERE.

PLOUGHSHARES AT EMERSON COLLEGE Look-to series seeks essays about underappreciated or overlooked writers. “The Look2 essay should take stock of a writer’s entire oeuvre with the goal of bringing critical attention to the neglected writer and his or her relevance to a contemporary audience. Examples of such essays include Stewart O’Nan’s piece on Richard YatesJoan Acocella on Sybille BedfordGore Vidal on Dawn Powell, and Ploughshares’ DeWitt Henry on Brian Moore. The writer can be living or dead and from anywhere in the world (if there are good English translations available). Essays should make note of biographical details that are pertinent to the writer’s work.” Look2 essay queries may be submitted between June 1, 2016 and January 15, 2017 and the guidelines are HERE.


CONTESTS/COMPETITIONS

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HAUNTED WATERS PRESS annual Fiction and Poetry Open will close on the 30th. $10 reading fee. Grand prize is $250 and publication. Details HERE.

THE TISHMAN REVIEW 2017 Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize is open to poets worldwide. The call for submissions opens on October 1 and closes on November 15. $15 reading fee per submission. First place wins $500 and publication in the January 2018 issue of The Tishman Review. Second place wins $100 and Honorable Mention wins $50. Details HERE.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS CENTER FOR THE BOOK and UNO PRESS “is accepting previously unpublished submissions of book-length fiction, novels or short-story collections. The winning author will receive a $1000 dollar advance and a contract to publish with UNO Press. The selected manuscript will be promoted by The Publishing Laboratory at the University of New Orleans, an institute that seeks to bring innovative publicity and broad distribution to first-time authors. We read submissions from April 5th to August 15th. Abram Shalom Himelstein is the editor-in-chief at UNO Press. Submission guidelines HERE.

THE 2017 BARBARA MANDIGO KELLY PEACE POETRY AWARDS “is an annual serious of awards to encourage  poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.” The three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 and under. The contest is open to people worldwide. Poems must be original, unpublished, and in English. Deadline: July 1, 2017. Cash awards. Entry fees. Details HERE.


EVENT/S

SPLIT THIS ROCK Calling poets to a greater role in public life and fostering a national network of socially engaged poets “invites proposals for workshops, panel and roundtable discussions, and themed group readings for the Sixth Biennial Split This Rock Poetry Festival, scheduled for April 19-21, 2018, in Washington, DC. The festival, celebrating the tenth anniversary of Split This Rock, will feature Kwame Dawes and Solmaz Sharif!” Details HERE.


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