A huge congratulations to the overall winner of Funeral Services Northern Ireland’s National Poetry Competition, a true reflection of greatness, from Bangor, Co. Down, Ross Thompson.
Beverley Brown explained the judges collective decision at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, when Ross was presented with his £500 cash prize and award sculpture, crafted locally by Bangor based artist Jo Hatty, for his poem “Icarus”:
The judges described the poem as complex, eerie and interesting. They loved how much the poem managed to pack in, really demonstrating the power and strength of language as an outlet.
Marie-Louise Muir said that “Icarus” had great energy from the get go, and its eeriness kept your interest engaged with its unusual language. She quoted a line from the poem which all the judges, Ciaran Carson especially, had loved, “The moon appeared to ripple, as if reflected/ in a bucket, then pulsed with the surge/ of a million kettles…” The judges felt that this line exploded in the middle of the poem.
The inspiration for the poem came from the Russian Soyuz disaster, the poem focusing on the cosmonauts who died in space and their thoughts and reflections in those final moments. Ross Thompson, an English teacher, has been writing poetry for the past two years. He recounted the first time he told his wife that he was writing poetry it felt like revealing a dirty secret, but asserted that she was “very supportive.”
Take another chance to read and appreciate the overall winning poem of Funeral Services Northern Ireland’s 2nd Annual National Poetry Competition.
Arcing through a silent ocean
of infinite stars refracted upon infinite stars,
hundreds of miles above the earth,
you gazed through a feathered window,
past the lens blinking back at you.
With one eye closed, you rolled the moon
like a gleaming dime, back and forth
between your finger and your thumb.
Slowly, breath by breath, it grew in size
until it filled your encircled fingers
like the bulb of a torch, then burned as brightly
as the magnesium ribbon you once lit
during that fateful Chemistry lesson last period,
Wednesday afternoon, twenty years before.
The moon appeared to ripple, as if reflected
in a bucket, then pulsed with the surge
of a million kettles, match point,
Wimbledon final, height of summer.
There were record temperatures that year.
Now your face graces a neat set
of commemorative stamps
while your darling wife tosses and turns
in half a bed, her pillow wet. In her dreams
a tiny silver speck
through the black.