A memento and prize - I won the Middleport Pottery Competition!
Well it was all a bit "shock horror" - only kidding! - but I, a Scouser, won the City Voices poetry competition , judged by Theresa Fox- Wells of Middleport Pottery. Theresa explained that it was not an easy task, and that in the nicest way she was surprised by the quality of all the writing. Theresa was also kind enough to provide feedback on all the poems submitted, which will be published on the Middleport Pottery web-site - www.princes-regeneration.org/middleport-pottery/visit-us
The feedback I had on my poem was humbling for some-one who never saw the Potteries in it's industrial hey-day. The poem was described as "moving" and that it "brought a lump to the throat". This is the poem.
Landscape of Fire
Remember this now all the fires are dead:
canals reflecting scorching hovels*; towers
sucking the black smoke out, leaving ovens red
and hot as hell. Smuts like blackened flowers
shedding lung-destroying petals over Burslem.
The cut’s watery veins, lava-flows of molten colour
that mirrored the fire and brimstone of this town.
Night sky wild with flame and sparks; now much duller
though you can see the stars, and an angel looks down
to quiet, clean streets, on dead Sundays.
Every bottle had its own beauty. Huge, satanic,
the dark-plumed queens of the Potteries hives.
Factory workers live in a world become volcanic,
a magma of muck and money that fires their lives.
Industry erupting, leaving nothing untouched.
Four thousand kilns in Stoke at one time, so it’s said;
the sun blotted out by smoke, and choking air that killed.
Saggers, when the ovens cooled, balance on a ragged head.
Cheap labour. Women, youths and men, uniquely skilled
to create beauty, and be soon returned to clay.
*The most visible outer part of the kiln, which is bottle shaped is known as the hovel