Autumn Poetry Competition 2018
Winning Poem for School Years 12-13
Carmen Anderson for 'All Make of Shoes'.
First the dapper desert boots,
Tan suede, grainy like sand dunes.
They must have made a comeback
Since I was a boy,
I wish I could too.
Here some sturdy black boots stomp,
Steel toes coated with cement dust,
Pounding on the pavement.
I shrivel as they march past
Here come the tip-tapping ones,
Gleaming out their office pride,
Thin heels and toes razor-sharp.
I shudder and turn aside.
Nike, Adidas, Puma,
Converse, Vans, brightly yellow DMs,
I see them all; those shining brogues
With purpose, destination –
While i have nowhere else to go.
Brightly coloured rubber boots,
Wellies of every size and hue
Crunch in grimy winter slush
Or slush or splash in reckless rush
While I shiver in my sodden rags.
A battered hat to gather coins,
A tatty coat and cardboard mat,
A mould-stained sleeping bag,
A scarf to hold my coughing back,
And two odd shoes with matching holes,
No thoughts, no words, no me, no home.
Judge Conchita Triay's Comments:
This poem first immerses us in the world of shoes, parading before our eyes a wide range of styles and colours. There is great attention to descriptive detail throughout, allowing us to visualize what the narrator- a homeless man- sees. Shoes and boots “tip-tap” and “stomp” along the pavement, and each passing pair reinforces the fact that he has “nowhere to go” while they walk “With purpose, destination-“. The marching feet only serve to emphasise the narrator’s aimlessness. He is only an observer, literally on the fringes of society.
This poem does not adhere to a strict rhyming scheme but rather varies it from stanza to stanza, sometimes with a rhyming couplet, sometimes with an alternating rhyme scheme, allowing a freer form of verse which enhances the sense of movement that the poem is trying to capture. Each verse focuses on the feet walking past but also on creating a sense of the narrator’s isolation. The line which describes the narrator’s own footwear “ And two odd shoes with matching holes”, is a poignant image which encapsulates the man’s miserable existence. With its sensitive control of language and structure Carmen Anderson has produced a poem which makes an impactful social comment on the very ugly reality of homelessness.