My poem Lullaby has been named runner-up in this year's BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year competition.
It's about swifts. When I was a kid, I wasn't at all keen on them, because of that screaming sound they make on summer evenings (thinking back, it's probably just because when you're little, you resent having to go to bed when it's still light outside, and they were a reminder of that). Now, though, they're one of my very favourite species, I think because they're such uber-birds - once they leave the nest, they might not land again for years. But anyway, a friend's young daughters were telling me earlier in the year that they didn't like the screaming noise, either, and the poem just came from that. Unusually for me, I wrote it very quickly.
I won't post it up here just now (because then you wouldn't buy the mag, would you?!), but the judges - last year's winner Chris Kinsey, Poetry Please executive producer Sara Davies, Poetry Please senior producer Tim Dee, poet Philip Gross, BBC Wildlife editor Sophie Stafford, and performance poet Sarah Williams - said: "The sensitive paradox in this poem is that while seeming to offer homely comfort, it comes as an expanding vision of nature and weather that does, as it says, throw the window open on the world".
I'm highly delighted because it's the second time I've managed second - in 2007 Hares In December, which appeared in my collection Troy Town, occupied the same place.
The winning poem, A Murmuration, by Heather Reid, is excellent, I think. It's concerned with flocking starlings, quite a common image in a lot of poetry (and songs) these days, but I really like the way the poem itself shifts pace and shape in imitation of its subject. A worthy winner.