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Judges Commentary 2017 by Jessica Traynor and Billy Ramsell:

“It’s a pleasure to declare ‘The Varying Hare’ by Tammy Armstrong the winner of this year’s iYeats competition. This is a special poem, one that manages to combine depth of ambition with deftness in execution, rendering, with enviable clarity, a crepuscular, fog-tinted milieu. Its uncanny, depopulated landscape is one readers are unlikely to forget as it leaves us ‘wrong edged’ and ‘thicket-blind’, lingering, despite ourselves, in the ‘animal time’ it so vividly conjures.

In the Emerging Category, ‘The Last Hour on the Flight Deck’ by Cynthia Miller stood out for us as an ambitious poem full of surprising and well-rendered details. From the air stewardesses who ‘arch their feet inside boxy heels’ to the dusk which ‘siphons lavender shadows across the room’, this is a poem which explores distance and dislocation through vivid, intimate imagery.”

1st Prize General Category

Tammy Armstrong "The Varying Hare"

1st Prize Emerging

Cynthia Miller "The Last Hour On The Flight Deck"

Highly Commended

Angela T. Carr "Ameratsu Hides Her Light in the Rock Cave of Heaven"

Highly Commended

Brooch "A.M.Cousins"

Highly Commended

Mackerel "John O'Donnell"

Highly Commended

Mole "Tammy Armstrong"

Highly Commended

Observance "Edel Burke"

Highly Commended

Road Salt Dome "Tammy Armstrong"

Highly Commended

Samhain "Ingrid Casey"

Highly Commended

The Farmer "Michael O'Connor"

Highly Commended

The Quiet Ones "Alan Weadick"

Highly Commended

Tigers In Leitrim "Roisin Kelly"

1st Prize General Category

Tammy Armstrong

The Varying Hare, by Tammy Armstrong

The Varying Hare


I’d been away so long I’d forgotten

this province's dark roads and deep pines

rarely bring down enough moon

to lighten these shapeless forests of fog and dim—

all wrong edged          all thicket-blind against early starts

to Hardscratch Road quarry runs

the lobster pound graders’ commute.


This is when thresholds open briefly             

deviling hares

low-bellied and filled with smoke

beyond the fox burying finger bones at the base of hackmatacks

the toad plodding through its cotton anniversary alone.


But sometimes a small one

its escaping heel not quick enough

gets tangled in its own nest of nerves

unstopped        unstilled


it jukes the cold-van ahead of us

all leather ears and scut

all riven bones and tantrum too late.


Lording over the unrehearsed

I might say oh. I might say poor, stupid thing

now grease and bone, an orphaned sock, a tattered mitt.


But after a moment, this passes:

weather is weather

smoke is smoke           traffic moves on.                                                                                                        

But something childish still

wants to stay in animal time

to reassemble the fog's glide

weed the wood of misgivings and scuttles

so the hare’s long bones haven’t snapped

its heart hasn’t stopped

the harbour hasn’t skinned to ice and locked us in

and the dawn flits of the blackbirds’ ruby wick

calling aujourd’hui, aujourd’hui, aujourd’hui

have yet to begin.

© Tammy Armstrong

1st Prize Emerging

Cynthia Miller

The Last Hour On The Flight Deck, by Cynthia Miller

Shirt too tight, a splotch of mustard (Hokkein noodles?

egg salad?) from lunch eaten somewhere over the Arctic,

steady heartbeat of lights blinking circadian rhythms.

Already his body is waking up when it shouldn’t be,

sun pulling at him from the other side of the world.

Tray tables stowed. The good coffee snuck into the galley

where air stewardesses arch their feet inside boxy heels.

The cabin dark is lush and soft as mouths in sleep.

Landing is just muscle memory. There’s a tipping

that happens as they glide past longitudes, the plane

arriving lighter, passengers heavier. He thinks

it’s a good thing they’re only ten thousand feet 

in the air because he saw that film where interstellar

astronauts zip around the galaxy only to return home

the same age as their great-grandchildren, days sliding

out from under them like wet runways. He can relate:

his whole life is spent chasing lights. There’s always

a moment as he crosses the doorway where he waits

for everything around him to have changed, aged, somehow.

It’s never the case. He’s still picking up old socks

and building blocks, hears the familiar gurgle of the second

bathroom’s pipes, slips into bed while dusk

siphons lavender shadows across the room. 

© Cynthia Miller

Highly Commended

Ameratsu Hides Her Light in the Rock Cave of Heaven, by Angela T. Carr

© Angela T. Carr

Highly Commended

A.M.Cousins, by Brooch

© Brooch

Highly Commended

John O'Donnell, by Mackerel

© Mackerel

Highly Commended

Tammy Armstrong, by Mole

© Mole

Highly Commended

Edel Burke, by Observance

© Observance

Highly Commended

Tammy Armstrong, by Road Salt Dome

© Road Salt Dome

Highly Commended

Ingrid Casey, by Samhain

© Samhain

Highly Commended

Michael O'Connor, by The Farmer

© The Farmer

Highly Commended

Alan Weadick, by The Quiet Ones

© The Quiet Ones

Highly Commended

Roisin Kelly, by Tigers In Leitrim

© Tigers In Leitrim