This is the third in a series of pages publishing the winning and highly commended poems in the People Need Nature/Young Poets Network “Ways to be Wilder” poetry competition, hosted by the Young Poets Network. We’re also publishing the judge Jen Hadfield’s comments for each poem.
Twenty tourists in a motor boat watching marine plankton bioluminesce – by Rachel Lewis
Competition judge Jen Hadfield said “Concrete poems like this make the reader ask what’s happening in the white space of the page. Visual rhythm is as important as beats or syllables here: as our eye tracks the poem we feel the zigzag of hands cutting through the water here, lighting a trail. It can be challenging to make poetry about such magical natural phenomena. You do well to tell the story simply at first, with the fluency of the night sea evoked in those three yoked adjectives ‘starless blackly softly’ (proving, incidentally, that rules such as ‘take all the adjectives out of your poems’ are made to be broken.) In your very moving poem, plankton and humans can discuss each other. Imagine what a poem-poster this would make, printed in white perhaps on a black ground, and drawn into the centre of the page; or appearing and fading line by line on a black laptop screen.”