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Courage Is Poetry Project 2017 - Over 16 Category

Poetry is Courage, Huddersfield Literature Festival


Migration - By Theresa Sowerby

A stand of rowan in a Yorkshire town
braves traffic fumes and flaunts
shocking blood-red clusters against
the urban grey and in the branches
hang a hundred waxwings, heads nodding,
jamming their bills with berries, inland
now but feathers still damp with salt wind
and in each small skull
the coordinates for steppe or fjord.

This winter daybreak a weak sun
leaks onto road and pavement
where the migrant workers come
to cafés, hospitals, hotels. Some
dreaming the dry cold of a real winter,
or evening air loud with crickets,
or the cadence of a first tongue.
Good morning. A latte and muffin.
Please, Thank you. Alien words bed in.

One looks up, points and all stare
in wonder at the barrel-chested
waxwings, slicked-back Mohicans
and the red seal on their folded wings
that marks their right of passage.

Runner - Up

Everyday Courage - By Simon Williams

Each morning before leaving the house
She would struggle into an ugly overcoat
Woven from fear and bitter experience
With pockets full of memories
Rough and heavy as millstones
Then each morning before leaving the house
She would look in the mirror
Square her shoulders and
With her chin held high
Go out anyway

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Highly Commended

The Gladiator Ward  - By Helen Burke

This is the gladiator ward
And it can go, either way.
Thumbs up. Thumbs down.
We all make our way into the arena –
The walk is different, but the fear is the same.
My armour is a nightie that you bought me.
Doreen’s shield is an apple pie that the kids made.
We never know which emperor – sorry Doctor –
Will be sitting in judgement today.
None of us signed up for this – we were all captured
Brought here in wire cages from far off lands called home.
Our families miss us – the old us –
And all vow to return.
But some will not. The lions will claim them.
But no one goes down without a fight.
And the cheers ring out when they see us, still standing.

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Anxiety - By Hannah Hodgson

It is water
that pushes its way through flood gates
up my nose, fills my head
puddles in my lungs.

There is a crowd in my throat
and I am choking
on people.

My breaths,
shallow as car revs.
Lungs, laced shoes
pulled tighter, tighter

in enclosed space.
Everyday I show a smile
I hand embroidered,
every night I rebuild myself

like Jenga blocks.
My smile shakes
But stays, it stays
it stays.

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Kirklees’ Pilgrims - By Lynda Turner

Children who flee
Over land or seas
Under siege

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Courage - By Inez Patino

Tears in a row
Perfectly formed
Softening the blow
Drop by drop
A silent rage
That cries "no more!"
And a gentle whisper.."I'm still here".

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Courage By Angie de Courcy Bower

Measure us:

not by how we suffer but how we survive

not by who we lose but the love we derive

not by our scars but how well they heal

not by bitterness but how grateful we feel

not by religion but the empathy we share

not by colour but how much we care

not by our lack but what wisdom received

not by our age but the insight perceived

not how little we earn but how little we owe

not the struggles we have but how much we grow

measure us

not by our fears but the courage we show…

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Pluck - By Jack Faricy

18 A-listers you didn’t know were gay
Vet commits suicide, squashes dog
Bacardi-fuelled nuns’ marauding holiday
Swings both ways? Tennis bombshell’s stray snog
Win a pair of 3D-printed testicles
16 selfies snapped moments before death
Bank robber runs for mayor against Giggles
the pig. Who knew these celebs were on meth?
27 therapeutic cat vids
won’t reach mum-with-no-phone, Sahar,
who fled airstrikes with three of her kids
but doesn’t know where the other nine are.
Her heart’s stripped raw with each breaking day.
Pluck. Not a flinch. She won’t look away.

(Inspired by Sahar and her Family, a photo taken in a Lebanese refugee camp by Dario Mitidieri)

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Lifeboat - By Anne Broadbent

As if goaded by
a frothing mouth of swaggering spittle,
the small rescue vessel
flings itself into the swell of a sea
too frightening to conceive.

Life-riskers, life-savers
search a dynamic shifting surface
in the belly of the beast.
Twenty-three call outs daily
cradle thousands to safety.

Courage of the finest,
wrung from hands and hearts
of lifeboat crews,
is given for free,
to the lives of you and me.

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By Rebekah Marriner

Courage is…

standing in a windowless room
whilst you hear the world roar outside.
To shout out loud ‘I’m coming’
and with the tone that says ‘I mean it’.
To grasp the only door handle
firmly, ‘til your fingertips go white

and exit.

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The Bad Step - By Mantz Yorke

Hiking the loch-side from Camasunary
to the Black Cuillin, the Bad Step
is a shock: no scramble, just a crack
across a slab slanting steeply down
to water deep enough to drown.
Below, Loch Scavaig is as clear as glass,
its pebbly bed dappled by the sun.

Flashback, half a century ago:
the Head announcing in assembly
a pupil had drowned trying to swim
Porth yr Ogof’s Resurgence Pool.
I imagined him dragged down
by boots, struggling in the dark
till water filled his lungs. Alone,

I weigh the risk, check the rucksack
will unclip, laces easily pull free. Scared
almost to immobility, I edge my boots
along the slit, hands walking the rock
like an awkward arthropod, till I regain
the rocky track and can ring-pull a beer,
effervescent at deliverance from fear.

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Courage of ordinary people.  - By Janet Blackburn

It is the woman who shaves her head,
even before the first chemotherapy.
The old man who still smiles philosophically
as he cares for his beloved wife,
whilst her mind unravels.
The child who remains joyful at finishing the race
even though they are last.

The girl, who quietly challenges racism, in the bus queue.
The boy who comes out loud and proud,
to all his macho mates and disapproving parents.
The Mum and Dad, who although crying inside
stay strong, as they hold hands with their dying child.

Tireless volunteers, who fearlessly face danger
to support a stranger, through manmade mayhem
or natural disaster,
with no thought of thanks.
Their names unknown.

It is the extraordinary resilience of ordinary people,
facing life’s challenges with fortitude and dignity,
who carry on relentlessly.
When asked they modestly reply
‘It’s what anyone would do, isn’t it?’

If our trial comes, however big or small,
we can but hope to find such courage in our hearts.

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