Runner-up Erin Coppin received this year's special Unpublished Poet Prize for being previously unpublished at the point of submission.
Malika Booker described this piece as a 'sparse powerful poem that hinges on a shocking volta like turn in the thirteenth line. Coppin uses alliteration throughout the poem to illuminate the ordinary scene of a woman lighting a fire. Yet rightly abandons all poetic lyricism for the stark admission in line fourteen: “I have not felt the baby move in days,” providing a shocking pathos, that blindsides, shifting the obsessive description of the fire into an extended metaphor for worrying or loss.'
I kneel to make a fire
paper kindling logs
lie waiting for the spark
the flame’s absorbed
turns twigs to tiny torches
Exhaling in a bellows of relief
tongues of fire lick and flick and
hope still leaps
I hesitate but strike another match
another twenty matches
I have not felt the baby move in days
I sweep the ashes and
the half-charred kindling
from the grate