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1st prize - 2017

Photograph of Derek Sellen

Derek Sellen lives in Canterbury and has written poetry over many years. He has written on a wide range of topics from Spanish painters to Chinese street vendors, from medieval legends to fake news. His poetry has been recognised in many competitions, including first prizes in Poets Meet Politics 2014, O'Bheal Five Words 2015 and 4th prize-winner in Poetry on the Lake 2017. Some of his work can be seen at: www.poetrykit.org

AESOP by Derek Sellen

That face — you had to invent it,
a gaunt arrangement of bone and muscle,
someone who knows the quirks of pride and greed.

A man as near anonymous as it's possible to be,
lending his vagrant name to others,
authoring tales long after he is dead.

One hand cups a book, the other's slung
in his dust-brown coat, the wounded hand
of a general or the withered hand of a beggar.

A jobbing story-teller, a fabled fabulist,
with a biography that begins in the slave quarters
and ends at the bottom of a cliff.

By the threshold of power,
leaning slightly back in wry appraisal,
in the atrium of a global bank or the hallway of a parliament,

he sees the fox and cockerel in you.

NOTE: Many of the stories known as Aesop's fables were written by others in later times. His life is equally an invention, at least in part, portraying him as a slave who rose to be an adviser to kings.

Aesop by Velázquez, 1640

Aesop by Velázquez, 1640 - Click to enlarge

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