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Project 52 ’11 23: Wolverhampton Poetry Competition

July 30, 2011

It’s not the catchiest of titles, but I didn’t choose it; the council did. They have decided to run a poetry competition to celebrate the fact that Wolverhampton (my home town) has been a city for the past ten years. The theme (strangely enough) was ‘Wolverhampton’ and the deadline was yesterday (Friday 29th July). This competition was quite inclusive – “…anyone who lives or works in the city or who can demonstrate a strong connection to the place.” Falling into at least two of those categories, I thought I’d give it a go.

I won’t win because I didn’t write the sort of thing they’re after. I can’t abide to write the sort of thing which usually wins a competition like this  – “Oh Wolverhampton is the best / I like the pubs and shops. / There’s many people everywhere – / There’s lot and lots and lots.” – and so on. The usual awfulness. I tried to write what the place actually means to me. I recognise the importance of the place in my life, but I don’t love it. I can’t – I’ve seen better.

The poem has a title. I’m terrible at writing titles for poems but the competition stipulates titles. Also it gives me a chance to actually use the town’s name, lest they thought I was writing about just anywhere.

What Wolverhampton Gives to Me

In a small seed,
Swirling early morning mist –
Blue-grey and empty
Like middle-aged sleep –
Wraps its fingers round
Abandoned building sites,
Boarded shops and broken wasteland glass.

In a brittle-shelled seed,
The buses rattle and complain,
Shamble and lurch like old men:
Broken, coughing.

A small, brittle-shelled seed
On ugly wasteground gravel;
A seed that is potential,
That owes you nothing
But will give as freely as the sea
And take like it also.

A seed to bore you taproots,
To pierce the ground of your forebears
And provide the nourishment
For you greenshoots.

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