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Helen Dunmore wins £5,000 National Poetry Competition

Who says poetry doesn’t pay? This year’s winner of the U.K.’s National Poetry Competition has been announced, and the £5,000 prize goes to ¦ an Orange Prize“winning novelist and poet. Helen Dunmore, author of dozens of books, including 2008’s Counting the Stars, entered her poem The Malarkey at the last minute, just before the competition deadline. Dunmore describes her entry in the Guardian:

It’s quite a tightly organized poem, in terms of the rhymes and the near-rhymes. It’s very much about containment … I’ve written very few poems over the past four years … but now I have the feeling that there is the kernel of a new collection. It is a great boost to receive the prize “ a confirmation.

The National Poetry Competition was founded by the Poetry Society in 1978. This year, there were more than 10,000 entries. If there is an unspoken Grand Slam circuit for poetry prizes, then the National Poetry Competition is definitely Wimbledon “ it’s the one everyone dreams of winning, poet Christopher James told the Guardian when he won in 2009. This year’s second prize winner of £1,000 was Ian Pindar, whose debut poetry collection, Emporium, will be published in 2011, while the third prize of £500 went to John Stammerstook, whose third collection will be released next month.

Here’s a peek at the winning poem, which can be read in full at the Guardian:

Why did you tell them to be quiet
and sit up straight until you came back?
The malarkey would have led you to them.

You go from one parked car to another
and peer through the misted windows
before checking the registration.