The poetry of ploughs: winners announced

Agricultural College librarian Peter Brooks and the Farmlife team have sifted through dozens of entries to find the winners of Farmers Weekly’s latest poetry competition.

The Rusting Plough, penned by Barry Carter from Hull, was unanimously picked as the favourite, winning the author a copy of Our Common Ground – a collection of more than 100 poems celebrating farming and the countryside.

“I enjoyed reading all the poems, but my preferred poem to win overall is ‘The Rusting Plough’,” said Peter. “The poet’s memorable use of language, imagery and rhyme all display a pleasing depth of poetic sensibility. While the poem speaks of things intensely personal and particular it also touches on universal themes of ageing and loss that everyone can relate to. Like many of the poems in the College anthology, it merits and will reward repeated reading.”

Barry lives in the suburbs of Hull and surprisingly, doesn’t have any direct connections to farming or the wider world of agriculture. “I just thought the rusting plough was a good metaphor for the farmer himself – no longer able to do what he used to,” he told Farmers Weekly.

Peter also commended Fairshare by Alwyn Marriage and Painting by Numbers by Astrid Bartlett, saying “I’d gladly have considered them for inclusion in the College anthology.”

A total of 10 entrants (listed below) will each win a copy of the RAC’s anthology. You can order a copy at bookshops or by calling Silverdart publishing on 020 7928 7770.

• Barry Carter, Hull

• Alwyn Marriage, South Pool, Devon

• Astrid Bartlett, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

• Paul R Wright, Skipton, North Yorkshire

• Fred Waterfall, Seighford, Stafford

• Aimee Cox Northwich, Cheshire

• Carol Forrester, Whitchurch, Shropshire

• James W Fuggle, Wadhurst, East Sussex

• Emily Gadd, Redditch, Worcestershire

• Rachel Davies, Weeping Cross, Staffordshire

The Rusting Plough, by Barry Carter

I wash my hands and stir the
fire after removing the
rust from an old plough.
I linger on the flames-
the fingers of the fire
remove my memory of rust.
I recall the names of old
labourers who have now
returned to dust. With a
a book of poetry and
mulberry wine, I water and
plough the fields of my
mind and I find the line-free
face of my young wife –
I see her cutting home made bread
with an old family knife,
her pure hands untainted
by time; she starts singing
with tenderness, with a voice
as refined as the silk of
her dress. My angry words
fly past – sparks from the fire –
death’s plowman’s relentless
desire will grind this rusting
plowman into his earth.

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