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2021 Abby Sparling Poetry Contest: Winners Announced

Poems were written on ACWC's 2021 theme BROKEN, details about next years contest TBA

2021 Judges were: 

Professor Norm Gayford 

Kat Sinclair; Kat Sinclair is a doctoral student at the University of Sussex, UK, researching the political economy of feminised robots. She is the author of Very Authentic Person (The 87 Press, 2019) and The Very Real Prospect (Face Press, 2019). She is currently working on another book for publication.

Rowan Morrison; Rowan Morrison is a writer and editor based in Cleveland, Ohio, where he thinks about trauma, trans identities, political wonkery, and storytelling. He tweets at @timesnew_rowan.




BROKEN/FIXED - Sue Hengelsberg

“Teddy boke,” he said as he held up the fuzzy ear.

“We’ll’’ fix it.  I’ll sew it back on,” she said.


“Chewbacca’s head fell off,” he said, with pieces in hand.

“We’ll fix it. We’ll glue it back on,” she said.


“I’m afraid his leg is broken,” said the doctor, holding up the X-ray.

“We’ll fix it with his cast and rest,” she said.


“The car is a wreck,” he said, “But I’m OK.”

“That’s good.  The body shop will fix it good as new,” she said.


“We broke up last night,” he said, with misty eyes.

“It takes time to fix a broken heart,” she said.


“I’m broke,” he said.  “Can you tide me over?

“Sure, this will fix you ‘til you find another job,” she said.


“A tree fell on our garage—broke everything to bits,” he said.

“Insurance will cover it.  Call a contractor to fix it,” she said.


“I’m afraid her hip is broken,” said the doctor, holding up the X-ray.

“How can you fix that?” her son said.


“Everything breaks down in old age,” she said, as he pushed her chair down the hall.

“They’ll fix you good as new here, Mom,” he said.


“She was a wonderful woman,” they all said as they shook his hand or hugged him.

“Yes, she could fix anything,” he said.



A Prayer for Roadkill – Augusta Monet

How does it feel to go out with a bang?

Cheap shot.

But the point remains; you left the world in a blaze of lights blinking to a soundtrack of horns and tires scraping gravel.

In that second you froze, captured by the mix of beauty and horror, that primal wordless jolt.

How did it feel?

To be taken from here with rough, calloused hands, a sudden black,

Take solace. For one second, your death was someone’s main event.

Did you hear their yells, the cursing behind the wheel?

Did the them even emerge from beyond their all powerful dashboard to examine the damage? as if there was something they could do. Perhaps they gave you a moment before driving on.


Are why a family trip to the cottage has to stop for a moment, for some frazzled coupling to explain to a smaller one what it means to forever sleep.

Vermin in life, roadside idol in death-quickly they drive on, and you cease to exist in their worlds.

There are no candles for your greasy, matted fur, no band to lend some ceremony to your glassy eyes.

And now, there shall be no silence in your new sleep.

For what could be silent about the glistening pink that is you, strewn across the freeway, massaged back Into the earth with each new wheel? The cries of revulsion you elicit from the unholy never cease.

Your tragedy is offensive to the modern world, yet in this offence is your power.

Your corpse shouts “I am seen. I matter”.

In an age where nothing seems to touch us, you remind us how we touch you in our ever urban sprawl.

So rejoice in your so-called ugly.

We see you. There are inductees into your church, those that will silently close their eyes in wordless hymns, lay flowers you will not see.

We declare you a guardian spirit of this tar laden strip. Count the cars, whisper consolation to us who every day must also scrape our insides off the pavement.

In your death, you refuse to hide.

I am seen. I matter.



kel macdonald is a sound artist whose poem is best enjoyed accompanied by her piece of the same name; listen on bandcamp to (white noise)  

(white noise) – kel macdonald

(white noise) ghosts on late night radio

Sweat begins to cool on the back of your neck when you step into the train car.

Outside, the night air is damp and thick, heat rising up from the tracks.

Jittering legs find stillness, backs of bare knees rubbing against the stained moquette seating.

Restless thoughts go quiet when you press your forehead to the window.

For a few breaths,

forward motion

dulls the compulsion to do —

doing, your uneasy substitute for being.

Have you always

lived here?

Have you thought of


The thick heat rushes back in with the opening of doors and

The mechanical screech of brakes

You’ll take the train as far as the train will take you

And then you’ll take a bus as far as the bus will take you

And then your feet will take you as far as they can take you


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