Revealed! The list of finalists for the York Poetry Prize 2021



Thank you to everyone who entered the contest this year.

Organized by YorkMix, in association with the York Literature Festival, this year’s competition drew a total of 515 poems from 192 poets. Our judge, Kim Moore, has now selected a final list of 27 nominations.

The poets are competing for a top prize of £ 500. The finalist will receive £ 150, the third winner £ 75 and a fourth prize £ 50.

Prizes for the best international entry (£ 50) and the best entry from a York postcode (£ 50) will also be awarded.

The winners, highly recommended and recommended poets will be notified of their success by August 9 and the results will appear here on YorkMix at the end of this week.

Preselection 2021

Here are, in alphabetical order by title, the first lines of the preselected poems.


If you look at gravel and only see dull stones that will not stay in the path you have made
for them; if you complain about the way they stick out of shoe soles like winks to turn on
lawn and flowerbed or jump on the road to be stolen by tires, you do not look closely

i don’t want to play

I’m on vacation at the beach trying not to think / and all around me are other people’s children /
empty sandcastle buckets on their heads like helmets / walking around saying Simon said/ Simon
said/ and I don’t want to play /

I paired with Jesus on Hinge

He wears a crown of thorns on his profile picture,
says he is the Messiah (and maybe he is) but also
maybe he’s just one of those guys who tells you
he can’t decide between you and three other women,

I see you ǀ hold the secrets of myself

To my ancestor-grandmother Brigid
I see you walking in the Wicklow mountains ǀ wind at the hem
from your shawl its lively blown pompoms ǀ its veiled wool
with a pouring rain your bare feet your heels as hard as granite
on these soft shades of green your stripped hair


the total area of ​​your intestines
is about half the size of a badminton court
September 3, 2005 twelve ten period 4
I spit my guts on the school gym floor


This afternoon my son wielding Mjölnir
chased Luna in the back garden until she crashed in the face
first in the sycamore. As he knelt in the grass
to check her new friend, her face a crumpled moon,


Fifteen stories higher, she sits tight.
I cannot give what has already been spent.
The housing manager will soon
stop hitting.

Mr. McCaig

Most mornings
I will go down to my shed
and see what Norman has to say.
Norman McCaig the poet, of course.

New born

Like an animal she sniffs it, says how
she missed that newborn smell,

inhales its scent like a drug.
Skin to skin, she holds her son against him.

Next year

– is an absence
where we expected a presence

– is the cry of a hunting owl
that does not disturb our dreams

Nitty gritty

Love itches your scalp / I know because I combed / week after week / every strand of their beautiful
heads / ponytails not loosened / pulled and pulled / from root to tip / for cleaning un-braided tangles / of
crawling lice / their unhatched eggs / the weapon of my choice / a metal toothed comb / which digs

Number ten

We wanted to leave behind:
Mom’s piano was no longer playing,
the rocking chair the dog had
worn out, sunk into the ground,
Grandmother Lily’s dresser,


The pleasure gardens with the stream,
its lighted bridges on their sides
by pieces of green and orange marble,
the monkey puzzle tree an umbrella.

Quantum theory of foam

The slowest magic carpet in the world,
knitting the years through the soggy ground.
A polar velvet star, frizzy, fallen, tied to the roots.

Six blankets

Under my bed smells of dust, winter blankets.
The mattress inflates through the slats
above my head. Linda Ford’s dad is downstairs
tell mom and dad about us
steal RS McColl’s candy and cake decorations
from the baker. Any minute now

To glide

Where did you go? little slip
cells what are you now? a flower next spring?

before and after you I keep a list of all the things I’m grateful for
cardigans music truth the boy who would have been

knocked down / split

his fridge hums a lullaby to limp lettuce
pale skinny dreaming on dark shelves

as the smoked glass jug slips through wet fingers
she just has time to think Oh

The gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat

On a scale from hedgehog to fox, how much do you know, mole?

From a distance, it looks like fabric hanging on the thread

When I think of you I think of the creature in the Kafka hole

but up close, the brain still cannot understand everything:

Poets never talk about money

Not the little the money, the hundreds of money
who buys a fancy meal, that cheeky dress,
the tree or the special bench for the back garden.
No, I’m talking about the BIG money, the three
or four silver zeros,

The dear wounded

(inspired by The Wounded Deer by Frida Kahlo)

Fresh dreams
to flee the hunters
I go down to the kitchen
heal old wounds
it’s always the same thing
early in the morning when a mist fell

Therapeutic session

How was it?
you asked when I got home.
We’re a little stuck, I say. Stuck, I didn’t say
like a Texaco oil rig stuck while drilling into a
shallow lake, then after a series of strong
pop the tilted platform and started to sink

This sacred and tangled forest

There were shadows on both lungs, bronchioles growing out of season.
Hear that you were still sick, people at work
would ask me how you were. Like a fool i would try
respond fully and honestly each time,

what does not come back

boomerang of a novice
body you touched in dreams
the body you dream of (and that you had at sixteen)
Randa the Newfoundland who lived among the trees
the ex that you block from social networks and four email accounts

What color today?

Here I encourage you again to delete
last week’s polish with soaked cotton
then wash your hands in a bowl of soapy water
balanced precariously on your knees.

Where we went to escape him

I came to pick you up from your home[1]
and lead[2] to the beach[3]. Lifted
interior[4], family traditions dictated that
you dip your toes in every surf
you come by[5]. We ran the tide line[6]
shoes like necklaces or chains.

Wonder Woman questions her status as a symbol of ’70s women’s empowerment

All my bad guys like to tie me up. they lick
their lips and salivate: my body a shiny slice
cherry cheesecake, my twin spaniel breasts
off leash, the bouncy castle of my thighs.

You too

If I had ever been kissed this way, like it meant something

when you mind your business

What if someone I know leaned down slowly to meet my closed mouth

and someone at random catches you from behind


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