The Prole Pamphlet Competition, 2022
We are open for submissions for the 2022 Prole Pamphlet Competition from 1st August until 17th October.
As ever, we are looking for writing that exemplifies the values of Prole: writing that engages, entertains and challenges the reader. We are completely open in terms of style and subject matter, it’s quality that counts.
Open for submissions from 1st August until 17th October, 2021.
The winner will be announced in December and published in early 2022.
We’re looking for between twenty and forty pages (A5) of poetry.
The winner receives £200 and 25 copies. (Further copies can be supplied at a discount.)
Jessica Mookherjee - see below.
How to enter
By email: email@example.com
Send your entry as an attachment with nothing on the attachment to identify you. Fees can be paid using the PayPal button, below.
My post: Send your entry with a cover letter with nothing on the manuscript to identify you. Cheques payable to P Robertson. GBP only.
To: Brett Evans
£12 per entry, £8 for subsequent entries.
Jessica Mookherjee is of Bengali origin, grew up in Wales and London and now lives in Kent. Her work appears in many journals including Agenda, Magma, Poetry Wales, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar, Birmingham Literary Review and in various anthologies including the Bloodaxe’s Staying Human. Her pamphlets are The Swell (TellTale Press 2016) and Joyride (BLER Press 2017). She was highly commended in the 2017 Forward Prize. Her first collection, Flood, was published by Cultured Llama in 2018 and her second, Tigress, by Nine Arches Press in 2019. She is a joined editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press. Her new pamphlet Play Lists is published by Broken Sleep Books in June 2021 and she is working on her third full collection.
The Prole Laureate Competition, 2021 - results.
Many thanks to everyone who entered and also thanks to our judge, Carrie Etter. The winning poems can be read below.
Snapshot of My Great Great Great Grandmother, Missouri, 1863 by Katie Hale
Easter by Catherine Gander
Reunion after a Long Pandemic by Caroline Gilfillan
Bilbao by Ruth Yates
Taf Estuary by Gareth Writer-Davis
Weathers in the City by Kathy Pilmott
Night Out by Val Ormond
Fete Galante by Pam Thompson
Under the Equalising Night Rowland Bagnall
Fleet Salvage: Coulthard's Dad by Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth
Making a Scone by Oli Isaac
Urgent Business by Christopher M James
A gigantic kiss rowed toward him by Ruth Beddow
Winner receives £300 and publication in Prole, issue 32. (June 2021)
2 x runners up receive £75 each and publication in Prole 32.
American expat Carrie Etter has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Weather in Normal (UK: Seren; US: Station Hill, 2018), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, Poetry Review, and The Times Literary Supplement; she also publishes short fiction, essays, and reviews.
Snapshot of My Great Great Great Grandmother, Missouri, 1863
The boys are practising war.
In the yard at the edge of the road, the sparrows
rejoice at bathing in the dust.
Believe God watches all of this:
their jocund rollicking in the wheel-ruts, feathered pulses
throwing dirt towards the sky in prayer. Believe
God watches all of this and cares.
In the yard, your young son’s arm
is a repeating rifle, his mouth
a gunshot saying
as your husband
only to give him the joy
of falling again. You are out on the edge, on your own
contested land, on the shores of the fighting
they call Civil. Here,
war is just another story from the east,
so why shouldn’t he shoot
from the pale
unchecked barrel of his fingers? Why not
be jubilant at his father’s cruciform drop,
his overblown cry and too-late
clutching of his chest?
And if he makes believe
to turn his aim against the sparrows, then
so what? He can get them all
and not have to stop, to reload.
On the porch,
your girls are learning their letters,
scratching erratic beauty on the slate.
There’s something of guesswork
in their fingers. Even at this age, they understand
is unpredictable –
how their brother
can twitch his fingers over here,
collapse in the dirt over there.
So you’ve told them what you know
about photographs, the distance
caught. And though you have not seen the pictures
of the war-beaten city where your family was born –
the rubble, the recorded aftermath – you have heard
how they call it
through the correct aperture, light
can throw person, building, bombarded street
against sensitised plate
with the glass-eyed gaze of the fallen –
how a camera can capture a moment like a torn flag,
and somewhere beyond the lens, a mother
is caught in her grief.
Tonight, you will check
all your children’s soft bodies
You will thumb the crooked places,
the insides of elbows, those sacred hollows
at the backs of knees
that still smell, even now, of your milk.
In the burrow of your son’s armpit,
you will find one, a fattening
just at the point a man
might brace a rifle butt
its swelling greed,
its feeding on your firstborn, its giving back
of its own diseases. And you will pinch it
full of anger
from his flesh: body, pinned mouth, the skin of your son
it fixed to – will drop it
on the embers in the grate, listen hard
for the air escaping, a squeal like a ghost
fleeing its strict cage of bone.
You have been sewing shirts for soldiers,
dressing them the way their own mothers
must have tucked them in at night, the way a nurse
might cover the glass-plate faces of the dead.
How many of your cotton cares
will be buried with their men inside?
How many will burst
like a spray of fresh carnations
on a grave?
Except you know enough
of blood’s exit from the body
to know it is never sweet
You, who have birthed three children,
understand the mess made by bodies
coming into and leaving the world,
the wet brown scud of a soul forcing through.
In the yard, your son is begging to be shot,
to try his own hand at falling, to test
his narrow weight against the air.
He is too far away. Your arms
are too far away. Your husband looks
straight down the barrel of his hand,
your son is all light, his face
a gleeful aperture – your husband
winks, squeezes the slick trigger of the air –
and you are running
from the porch,
from across the yard, and God
give speed to your legs,
you are running as he falls –
and your reach
and you are always
too far away
to catch him.
Open the door a crack
& sickness flares
The air inside the room is metallic, charged
with something otherworldly
but familiar as blood
Her body lies on the bed like
an open jack-knife
sharp bones glowing
through turmeric skin &
when she turns
— impossibly small
haloed with sweat —
to search your face
you want nothing more
than to wash her hair
Her eyes are unstrung
beads of amber resin
through which she watches family
out the room and into
sunlight homework noise
She’s an alien mother now
more thin & yellowed than
a photograph in an attic but
downstairs a vase of lilies sings colour
to the kitchen table
& before you’re ushered out
you’ll sit with a bloom on the end
of her bed which is also the edge of the world
& stare at how the vivid pollen stained your fingers.
Reunion after a Long Pandemic
You know the flat on the Hills Estate
where we slept under a pink striped blanket?
Start there. The block will smell of lime tree blossom
and there’ll be no drum and bass rolling like thunder
round the blocks. You'll find the Escorts and Beamers
have disappeared: all that’s left are metal skeletons
hunched over faint smears of oil
between the dandelions.
Keeping your hood over your hair, head for
the main road. Watch out for the ditch –
a girl could drown in its khaki sludge.
Pass the green-tin synagogue and the stables
from where the ponies used to trot out,
proud as paint, on a Saturday morning.
My street is next to the mini-mart that sold
sesame loaves perfumed with butter and honey.
I'll make a chalk mark faint as hope on the kerb
in front of my house. Go down the steps –
careful, careful – don’t trip and break a leg –
whistle the first line of Catch a Fire
and I'll be there, and the dog with the honking bark,
and the ebony cat called Emily Pankhurst,
and the gas fire hissing its salmon-pink song.
You can kiss me, and I'll kiss you back.
Our teeth will be snow. Take off your threads
and hob-nailed boots. I can summon up enough water
for a bath. Naked, you'll know you've arrived.