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Posted on December 06 2019

Runner-up Erin Coppin received this year's special Unpublished Poet Prize for being previously unpublished at the point of submission.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

I strike


the flame’s absorbed

  turns twigs to tiny torches

kindling’s caught


Exhaling in a bellows of relief

tongues of fire lick and flick and

hope still leaps


   too soon


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



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