Enfield libraries recently opened a poetry competition for local people to write about what the Autumn months mean to them. We are proud to be a borough that hosts a thriving community of poets; based at The Dugdale Theatre, the Enfield Poets provide an opportunity for local poets to perform their work in a supportive and stimulating environment. We also have the talented Poppy Medenis, an inspirational poet who explores how easy, fun and powerful poetry can be for people of all ages. Through her highly enjoyable, live poetry-jam workshops ‘People with Voices‘ held monthly at Palmers Green library, participants get to write and recite in an encouraging and welcoming space. We got in touch with Poppy and asked her to read and review the entries to the competition – enthusiastic as ever, she provided feedback for each poem, which can be read below.
Our judge is 51 year-old, woman of colour Susan Belle; a poet born and raised in Wembley. She has taken part in a handful of events within the LGBTQ poetry community and has published her poems on POETIZER, an inclusive social network for poets to showcase and discover work. You can read Susan’s contributions under her profile Bellesy64 and connect with her via Instagram @QUEENB51712
A WORD FROM OUR JUDGE: I started writing poetry at a young age, but didn’t really pursue my craft until later on in life. I’m inspired by real life situations and draw from my own experiences and encounters. I feel my writing style is more spoken word and felt compelled to write more during lockdown to share my thoughts and fears. I first shared my poems on a virtual platform called Poetry LGBTQ – I was nervous at first but I met some great poets on this site.
THE WINNERS: Congratulations to Sylvia Clare (An October Morning) and Jennifer Scagell (I’m sitting in Oakwood Park) who’ve each won a £25 book voucher! You can read their poems, along with other entries below. Thanks to everyone who participated and to all those who happily got involved.
AN OCTOBER MORNING
by Sylvia Clare
The brittle breeze scolds my bare hands
A reminder that winter is coming
And I am not yet acclimatised away
From the subtle cosiness of autumn.
A smattering of drizzle coats my hair, a veil
Of diamonds on snow, damp, comforting.
I stop to smell the wind, coming from the wet, windy west
pull up a hood and continue tending to chickens.
It is the time of year when log fires await indoors
And the kitchen seems the best room in the house.
Home knitted jumpers call to be worn. Knitting needles
feel more at home in my hands than pens or keyboards.
Even though words clamour
to be written down, winter needs become more attractive,
the logs checked for dryness, the yarn stash plentiful
hot soup made from the last of the summer veg.
Poppy says: This poem has a tactile and sensory quality, the writer is skilled in pulling the reader into their world and making them feel the sensations of an October morning through their words. ‘I stop to smell the wind’… ‘A smattering of drizzle coats my hair’, ‘words clamour to be written down’: we become alive to the present moment through reading this inspiring piece.
I’M SITTING HERE IN OAKWOOD PARK
by Jennifer Scagell
I’m sitting here in Oakwood park
Thinking Autumn makes me smile
I’m wrapped up with my coat and scarf
I think I’ll stay a while
I know summer is behind us
And winter’s on its way
But I like this change of season
There’s a crispness to each day
I like the colour of the trees
I like the rustling leaves
When I get home I need to check
The birds have got some seeds
I’ll put away the BBQ
It’ll go back in the shed
I’ll make some soup
And serve it up
with warm and crusty bread
I’ll be back tomorrow
For a single, simple reason,
To enjoy the park at this time of year because
Autumn is the season
Poppy says: I love the way this poet has brought in specific details of a place, the poem being an ode to Enfield’s Oakwood Park as much as an ode to Autumn. The sweet rhythm of life and the seasons is thoughtfully conveyed, and the poet brings our attention to the beauty which sits right under our noses. “I’ll be back tomorrow for a single, simple reason, to enjoy the park at this time of year because Autumn is the season”. This life affirming piece can encourage and be enjoyed by everyone.
CHANGE IN AUTUMN
by Deborah Walker
Better to make changes while the sap is drying
and the leaves, hold on to them as long as possible
until with a tremulous sigh, succumb, fall dry and
itchy to the floor.
The desiccated, discarded summer dress trod on.
I remember the tree younger, twenty years gone.
Bearing sweet queenly plums, blushing skin
dripping enchanting, surprising yellow flesh
Although, even then, it was not perfect.
One had to eat with care, should
some house a tiny disgusting grub.
No gardener I am.
This tree has been subject to too long neglect.
Yes. It has become too big. Too solid. Too much.
Instead of a proper tree, with one trunk and branches
from the crown, like a child may draw,
you are grown unwieldy.
Where once slender limbs graceful like hands raised in a courtly dance
Your trunks cross like meaty thighs. Solid. Intertwined.
Spiders veins your bark. Ivy creeps and enfolds.
And your fruit is small, yellow, and old.
This autumn, there must be changes.
Yes. As I stand, a shower of leaves falling reveals an empty nest.
Bigger and more untidy, then one might expect.
But it did its job.
And I remembered that this old tree still has its moments.
In spring, blossom swings sweet petal rain.
In summer shades a childhood of darling green.
And if I do prune savagely, I might disturb the empty nest
Do birds return to the empty nest?
I think they will.
Poppy says: This poem reaches into my heart with its evocative imagery and imaginative storytelling. The more I read it, the more layers there are to be discovered and unpeeled. The concept of ageing is grappled with, and the poem feels like a process of acceptance: “I remembered that this old tree still has its moments…Do birds return to the empty nest? I think they will”. This final line fills me with emotion as I think of the cycles of life and our fluctuating relationships with one another throughout time. I am left feeling that hope prevails through time, age, and the tree’s transformation. This is a beautifully rendered poem that expresses a human truth everyone can relate to.
AUTUMN ALMANAC (NO, NOT THAT ONE, ANOTHER ONE)
by Peter Bayman
September comes and we are told, as if it’s overrated, there will be no more sun this year, the chain stores have dictated. My partner wants a summer dress to wear upon some tropical isle but when she asks at M&S she’s greeted with a pitying smile. A brand new poster proudly proclaims, in letters green and gold, ‘Winter collection now on sale!’ as if to say ‘forget what you need, just buy what you are told’.
Back home again and our grandchild plays on the lawn with paddling pool and slide; It’s 27 Celsius in the shade and feels even hotter outside. Nobody told her that Summer’s over, she just wants to have some fun, go to the park, play on the swings and smile and laugh and run.
She’s only three but she’ll soon learn.
October follows and they say a hunter’s moon is on the way. I’m not sure what that is but it sounds dangerous anyway! Google says it’s when the tribes stored game to get them through the winter ahead. We’re not really into hunting so we go to ASDA instead.
I pack away the paddling pool as the sound of children’s play is replaced by the sound twits with leaf blowers at all hours of the day. This is a new game that someone has invented (pretty clever). First, you blow the leaves off your property into the nearby lane then the wind or the council come along and blow them all back again. And the best bit is the game can go on for ever!
That is until someone spoils the fun by actually picking up the leaves and then nobody knows who won!
November’s next and pretty soon, as we all surely know, bonfire night brings fog and rain (or maybe even snow). The hardy parents venture out into the cold damp night, clutching some overpriced fireworks that they then attempt to light. The fireworks suddenly spring to life, much to the kids’ delight, burning off dad’s eyebrows and setting the shed alight. The fire brigade are very good and, as they drive away, Mum says’ “maybe next year kids we’ll go to a display”.
With December not too far away and as he lays in bed, Dad starts to think of Christmas gifts, perhaps a brand new shed. The kids will have their presents, which they’ll break by Boxing Day, and all he’ll have to worry about is the credit card bills to pay.
Still, looking on the bright side he might have grown some new eyebrows by then.
POPPY SAYS: There is an undeniable warmth to this poem as the narrator takes us on a journey through daily life, conversations, and thoughts. Little details are brought to life through rhythm and humour, my favourite moment is the description of the game where the leaves are blown back and forth by the people, the council, and the wind. The last line must also be highly commended: “Still, looking on the bright side he might have grown some new eyebrows by then.” This cheerful poem puts a smile on my face, and I build up a vivid image of who the narrator is through their words. I wonder if the author has ever thought of doing any spoken word poetry? It would be great to hear the poem read out loud too!
by Henry Benjamin Jacobs
The tree from my window is golden, it used to be green,
Autumn’s magic, sheer wonder transforming the scene.
The leaves whisper gently, summer’s reign at an end,
Cascading in chorus, in gusts to descend.
A carpet of crimson revealed early morn’,
Glowing amber and russet, a cloak for the lawn.
Mother Nature never failing to follow her course,
Exciting, rewarding, unstoppable force.
And now comes the twilight, changing fortune and form,
Soon to be followed by rain, wind and storm.
Chill days of bleak winter, Jack Frost’s icy fingers,
Come snow or harsh blast, still the memory yet lingers.
Of autumnal delight; season ripe, warm and mellow,
The palette of colour: red, orange, bright yellow.
The crunch and the rustle, the seasonal story,
All the shades and the hues of fall’s golden glory.
Shining copper and scarlet, swirling leaves in a squall,
To dance and to spin, playful sight to enthral.
But how to look back on the annual surrender?
To have and to hold fine blades of such splendour.
Selected and saved, dried pressed to perfection,
Preserved to recall, autumn leaves – my collection
POPPY SAYS: I love the brightness of this poem and the way the writer has shared their awe of Mother Nature with the readers, capturing the “exciting, rewarding, unstoppable force” that she is. All the enchantment of the changing of the seasons is expressed and I find myself falling in love with the magic of the world through the words. The poem also provides space for reflection about the passing of time and deals with this idea of loss and memory thoughtfully: “Selected and saved, dried pressed to perfection, preserved to recall, autumn leaves – my collection”. The poem feels like a pressed leaf itself – another means by which to collect, hold and preserve the beauty of autumn within, all year round.