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1st prize - 2016

Photograph of Mark Totterdell

Mark Totterdell lives in Devon and works as a copywriter. His first published poem appeared in his school magazine in 1977; his second followed thirty-three years later. Since then he has been widely published in magazines and has had some competition success. His first collection, This Patter of Traces, was published by Oversteps Books in 2014.

Cormorants by Mark Totterdell

It’s nothing but a soft splosh and widening,
fading rings on the river.
Half a minute under. Eelbane.

Mute low flight. Wingtips never quite breaking
the tension. Baldraven. Shaggy tail
balancing diamond-bit head.

A score of black cyphers on lines either side
of the pylon. Coalbirds. Their pattern
charged with a semblance of meaning.

Seacrow. Unseen against the bladderwrack,
it’s only its own wrecked reflection,
shifting across the overturned sky.

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