Poetry Prize 2016 judges Andrew McMillan and Rebecca Perry on ‘The Truth About Figs’:
It would be easy to draw a direct (and obvious) likeness between this poem and a fig; it’s true that both are compact, neat, beautiful, packed full of tiny details, and far more complex inside than is belied by the exterior. But ‘The Truth About Figs’ is much more than that – it makes a stunning truth of a fiction, as all great poems should, and not a word is wasted. The wasp at the centre of the fruit serves as the ultimate symbol of sacrifice, undoing and transformation – a journey that takes a mere 14 lines.
Each ripe fig has at its heart a devoured wasp:
a solitary female, to pollinate
the fruit’s inverted blossom; she crawls in
at the meeting of the bracts, the ostiole:
a hole so small it rips her antennae,
splits the tectonic opacity
of skeletal wings; sky-bereft and undone,
she nonetheless tends the fig’s dark garden,
its minute inflorescence – strokes stigma,
seeds stamen, tucks her eggs into the styles
of ovule florets – and settles into death:
the enzymatic gall of her own deflowering.
Sink your tongue into the burst of purple skin;
mouthful of fleshy sweetness, born of a sting.
Poetry Competition Third Place 2016
Angela T. Carr is a writer and poet based in Dublin, with work published or forthcoming in literary journals in Ireland and internationally, including Mslexia, Bare Fiction and Prelude. Her debut collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life, won the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition 2013. In 2014, she was selected for Poetry Ireland’s Introductions series and won the Allingham Poetry Prize. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016, she was also commended in the Hippocrates International Poetry Competition and runner-up in the Trocaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. She is Poetry Editor at Headstuff.org. More at www.adreamingskin.com