‘The Bed That is a Tree’ won the Agenda Poetry Competition in 2011 and was subsequently Poem of the Week in the Guardian. Read the poem, and Carol Rumens’ lovely reading of it here.
‘This poem deserves the exalted company of writers such as Margaret Atwood. An emotional depth-charge, its most striking technical quality is verbal compactness. A monologue can ramble and still be successful if the voice convinces. This one succeeds also as a tight-knit lyric poem… True to the spirit of Homer and epic poetry, anaphora serves this lyric beautifully, keeping it minutely connected, building the rhythm, and intensifying the mood… The rhythm inescapably draws us into the mood, and the images are almost archetypes. Cut loose from classical context, ‘The Bed That Is a Tree’ works perfectly as a resonant contemporary love poem. The speaker could be any woman moved by grief to emblematic utterance, and the governing metaphor, the bed as tree, finds all kinds of shapes in a reader’s imagination, combining growth and death, cradle and coffin, security and evanescence.’ Carol Rumens, the Guardian
‘This poem was picked out as the first-prize winner because of its potent mix of original, musical language, its clever distilling of the myth into a moving contemporary piece, with universal application, and because it mesmerised on the page and read like a spell.’ Agenda judge’s comments