SSLC_White_Pencil file-pdf prize-ribbon

2018 Free Verse

2nd Prize

2nd Prize

How to Write a Waterfall
Penny Lane

Nelson Bay, NSW

Hesitate over a rocky beginning, a
precipice of intention, then shape
a solid wall horizontally lined
by calligraphic fissures, its
layers a waiting page, black
lines on brown, and portrait-
oriented; feed it a stream of words
to ink the page with white, with word-
spill smudged with green-ink mosses,
bracketed by trees, by ferns,
by forest litter scribbled
as a fluster of rapid notes;
pen a plummet, a plunge of
vowels and consonants, of
diphthongs and digraphs falling
and frothing from white-inked words—
moist bursting its air bubble into mist
repeatedly from question-marked
cascades over rocky ledges, other
words spurting into a sibilance
of phonetics, then tumbling into
a surge of words re-forming or
cast as vapour-spray to spangle
spider silk in strings of o’s or
splash on fallen rocks like
balled discarded paper scrawled
with lost words; end with an
expression of exclamation marks
dissolving into a splatter of full stops
on the surface of a shallow pool.

Judge's Comment

How would you describe a waterfall? What words would you use? Here is an ingenious, imaginative answer to that question in a relatively short poem which uses the essential elements of language to achieve the desired effect. I can do no better than quote an example: ‘pen a plummet, a plunge of / vowels and consonants of / diphthongs and digraphs falling / and frothing from white-inked words - / moist bursting its air bubble into mist’. That last line is one reason I describe the poem as ‘ingenious’.

Author's Comment

I am astonished and delighted at winning. I have been writing poetry for three years and enter an occasional poem in a competition as a means of getting feedback. This time I decided to enter two poems, fingers crossed one might be short-listed. This would be a way of finding out which of the two is judged to be better than the other. Hence my astonishment at the success of both my poems. Poetry is an important aspect of my life, both reading and writing it, so the pleasure I have in knowing I am writing worthy poems is deep.

This competition would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors