Congratulations to Ryan Murphy of Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland, who won First Prize in our 2021 Open Poetry Competition.
This is what the judge, Rishi Dastidar, had to say about his first choice.
The first prize goes to Ryan Murphy for ‘The Mundane Borders on Evil’. This is a startling poem of which takes as its jumping off point a simple cliché – a line in the sand – and then proceeds to explode and twist it, as it becomes an exploration of who is an insider, who is excluded, who is allowed to belong, the violence implicit or otherwise that is threatened to those who cross that line. All of this is achieved through its full-throated embrace of repetition of the word ‘sand’ – it becomes punctuation, but also revelatory as it swirls in and out of focus. The sound, of that word, and the ‘lions’ too, keeps jolting you, and you can feel the energy and tension building as the lines run into the tight constraint of the form, a single justified column, meaning when the poem explodes towards its end – “we shall make our stand and draw our lines for the sand is ever ours and ours alone” – its force is stunning.