Comments

Some comments on Paul’s poems:

  • Paul’s first pamphlet ‘Those People’ won the 2014/15 Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet competition

“Funny and quite serious at the same time, these poems cast a fresh, ironic eye on contemporary life and find a wild variety of fields in which to play.  The colloquial tone and satiric brilliance might make a reader wish to hear more, ideally over a pint or two”. Billy Collins, competition judge

  • ‘Going Through’ was published in Poetry News, Spring 2015

“I had never thought of snow globes as contraband. I loved the specificity of the airport and the globes in ‘Going Through‘. They create a tight focus, and the poem develops its geographical imagery – ‘destined for nowhere’ and the little cities – really nicely. Look how ‘hazards’ suggests ‘blizzards’. And its final image of lonely transience and endearing humanity is beautiful.” Katy Evans Bush, Poetry News

  • The Guest‘ was published in Poetry News, Winter 2014

“‘The Guest’ by Paul Stephenson has perfectly surprising but unforced imagery. For a long time I will think of the lines, ‘He sat there in the way / piles of gravel do, delivered // to the beginning of a drive’ and also the enjambment on ‘landscape'”. Kei Miller, Poetry News

  • ‘Eight Faces of Anne Hidalgo’ won second prize in the Ware Poets competition 2014

“I did not catch on to the main idea (that it is about partial faces visible on hoardings after an election) until the second or third reading. It had already snagged me, and when I got it, it made me more interested in the concept. An original and neat idea (by a poet, when I found out the name, who I should have recognised as he rather brilliantly specialises in clever ideas and forms).” Roddy Lumsden, Ware Poets 16th Competition Anthology 2014

  • Womb‘ was published in Poetry News in summer 2012

“Leonardo da Vinci is known to have planned a book on human anatomy and to have dissected some 30 human bodies, drawing what he found or could guess at. His ‘Studies of the foetus in the womb’ from The Anatomical Manuscript (both were the set theme of this members’ poems competition), shows a child in the womb, apparently ready for birth […] ‘Womb’ by Paul Stephenson I found truly haunting: a sonnet that, until you get to the final couplet, is just a list of nouns.” Clive Wilmer, Poetry News

“His Ekphrastic poem ‘Womb’, following a drawing of a foetus in the womb by Leonardo da Vinci, makes startling use of both diaphoric metaphor and list-making: ‘Chestnut, oyster, ministry, pod, / bunker, shelter, kiosk, vault; / ingot, conker, pearl, soldier, / pea, secret, newspaper, passenger’ […]” Robert Peake, The Huffington Post

“Tom Chivers has put together a ‘compendium’ of poems in unusual forms: found poems, text poems, anagram poems, a poem composed of song titles, another of numbers. A fetching example is Paul Stephenson’s ‘Notes on Contributors’, which assembles biographical notes from the back of poetry magazines, but with the content omitted….” James Cambell, Times Literary Supplement

  • Paul was awarded third prize in the Kent & Sussex Open Poetry Competition 2012

“‘Turkish Delight’ by Paul Stephenson is the third prizewinner. The conceit of this poem is built on the use of anaphora, the repetition of the phrase “What you do” at several points of the poem, beautifully judged.  At the outset, we know that the poem is about the imminent last days or hours of someone close to the speaker, perhaps a father, but the extremity of the situation is dealt with consummate tact.  Whereas a poem like Sharon Old’s ‘The Race’, dealing with a similar situation, is explicit in its tension and drama, this is a much quieter poem, full of emotional undercurrents, but understated, dwelling instead on all the material objects the eye or mind falls on during the journey to get there in time, the waiting and helplessness.  The anaphora here performs a vital function as it embodies the inner panic, the sense of urgency, driving the poem to its conclusion.  And it is a marvellous, unexpected gasp of a closure.  Congratulations to Paul on a sensitive, honest and moving poem.” Mimi Khalvati, Adjudication Report

  • Paul read at Ledbury alongside poets Anne-Marie Fyfe and Phil Hancock in July 2011

“Programming Ledbury was a great pleasure – bringing to the stage talented writers like Ian Duhig and Anthony Thwaite, Stuart Maconie, The Antipoet and Tony Walsh, Luke Wright with his coruscating Cynical Ballads and fresh talents like Paul Stephenson.” Jo Bell, The Bell Jar

  • Paul’s poem ‘On Sundays‘ was published in Poetry News in autumn 2010

“Paul Stephenson’s ‘On Sundays’ takes a more playful approach to the family dynamic, using linguistic wit to craft a subtle comment on the frustrations and familiarity of routines.” Jane Yeh, Poetry News