Scrawl Poetry Winner – Benjamin Kemp with ‘Ju-ni Gatsu’

vicbooks’ Scrawl Poetry Competition, on National Poetry Day, with the gratefully received help of…


…is pleased to announce Benjamin Kemp as the winner of our Scrawl Poetry Competition.

We received almost 200 poetry entries for the competition, many of which surprised and delighted us with their depth and skill. Jenny Bornholdt, who was kind enough to judge the poems for us, selected the winner and five highly commended poems, had this to say of Benjamin’s poem:

“In ‘Ju-ni Gatsu’ the writer has entered ‘the arteries’ of where he lives. I love the way an emotional state is conveyed through the careful detailing of physical life. The writing itself is ‘delicate’ and attentive – rich in detail and full of surprising images. This is a strong, quiet poem which fully realises the sense of a ‘delicate’ landscape and concludes with a gorgeous final image.”

See this post for the five highly commended poems and Jenny Bornholdt’s words on them.

Congratulations Benjamin, your prize of books, $200 in vouchers and a A2 poster of your poem are on their way to you.

Ju-ni Gatsu (‘December’ in Japanese)

Japan is delicate,
& in December when snow settles
upon the branches,

it feels like a Buddhist prayer…

Walking to work,
a stonewall shoulders my path…

it was built 700 years ago

by monks who tendered the gardens with
tiny scissors &          a clear mind…

Walking to work,
my fingertips hang out from under the
sleeves of my jacket…

tickled by a morning sun &
a frost,
fragile,  like the ribs of a leaf…

Walking to work,
the peddlers in steaming noodle
carts have faces like nourished hide…

If you get close,
their foreheads are old photos,

with grandfathers, mothers,
brothers & uncles,  resting over their brow.

Walking to work,
from Yoyogi-Uehera, where I live…

it’s saintly…

for when the sun hits…
the orange tile roofs
knelt down through the night…

they rise to their feet.

& in Shinjuku, where I work…

the People have

the temperament of porcelain,
with cheek bones
like ZEN…

& Kurosawa

& in the canal,

the carp bask under muddy glass…

sometimes twelve or thirteen at a time,
trading their safety for
the sun,

& over the bridge,

with wide hips & feet resting in a puddle…

I enter the arteries of Tokyo…

With ears open…

listening for you

for Manutuke…

the Te Arai river…

& the sound of oranges growing.

We want to thank Booksellers NZ  for their kind help in supporting this competition, and for their grand organising efforts for National Poetry Day.

and for their support of student writing.


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