What is Poetry? That’s a question asked by the editor of this anthology in a brief article at the back of the book. A needless question actually, for the selected poems themselves all lend eloquent testimony as to what poetry really is. Mind you, I was puzzled by some of the poems, particularly by Jennie Herrera’s First Prize-winning "Fritillary". Admittedly, the Tom Howard Contest is one in which anything goes, but "Sweet bright grasses fringed about a secret cove, With little rasping voices, softer than the waves that curl, Softer than the winds that trill a harmony across the dunes, Telling tales… "
"Fritillary" is not the only surprise offered by this anthology. The Second Prize-winner, "Train Journey" by Ann Tregenza is similarly oddly rhythmical. But rather than the motion of waves, it conjures the movement of a train: "No need to count the sheep, I sleep,/wait again to the same heart beat,/ranges of mouse-backed hills each side,/a breeze to keep the windmill turning,/windmill turning, windmill turning."
Yet another surprise! That unpopular genre in most other poetry contests, the humorous poem, earns Third Prize for Adam Wallace with his "Jeremy Johnson Jackson the Third". Perhaps I should not have been so taken aback, for the judges themselves have contributed a humorous piece, "A Lion’s Lion". A weak pun, but nonetheless an amusing attempt at "licking limpid leonine lines to light."
And unlike most other lead-lined poetry collections, "End of Season" is so neat and well-designed, it’s a delight to hold and tempting to carry. It weighs far less than a Reader’s Indigest and will slip quite easily into a brief-case, knapsack, or even a capacious overcoat pocket. A pleasure to indulge at work or play – or on your next train journey!