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2019 women's poetry competition judge Malika booker awarded 2nd prize to 'Fishwife' by Jacqueline Saphra, saying: 'the second place poem is structurally composed around such visceral and guttural sonic quality, that I found myself uttering lines from the poem over and over delighting in the rhythmic sharpness of the words, yet haunted by the lyric’s narrative drive. This seemingly literal tale is as layered and brutal as any Grimm’s brothers as alluded to in the epigram. The poem responds to the fishwife’s anger (epigram), by illuminating the premeditated action this anger initiates. The couplets demonstrate that this is a poet who clearly understands how to manipulate language as illustrated by the way the alliterative rhythm pushes against the taut syntax, and is reined in by rigid couplets and line breaks.'



'Anger fell over her. Her hair flew wild about her head...'

- The Brothers Grimm


The fish knows I’m shackled by desire

like all my kind. I want: the verb that’s blind.


I caught him once: he dangled while I dreamed,

then slipped my grip. Cursing, hungrier,


I worked the lure until he bit. I reeled him in

with all his wishes, struck the deal: he left me


fooled and famished yet again. Now I cast

my line and he’s hooked, lips agape, a future


in my fist. How he preens, then tenders me

a wish. This time I know him for a liar. I stroke


his silver coat and, sleazy as a lover, slit

his bastard throat and gut him for my supper.



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