Ink Pantry’s Dr Zhivago Poetry Competition 2020

Results are in!

The winner of our Dr Zhivago competition 2020 is Mark Sheeky, with his poem, Zhivago.

Our highly commended poem is Untitled by Rachel Cohen.

Many congratulations to our two winners, and all the other wonderful entries we received.

Special thanks to our judge this year, Andrew Williams.

Zhivago by Mark Sheeky

A dark leaf runs,
toyed by a winter’s wind,
away from my grasp
towards the train
and my father’s body
bent on the track.

In the dim room, I recall
only scents of candle smoke,
and notes of fruit wood,
a melody which winds
like cotton, around my wrists,
to touch beautiful Lara, then flee
ragged, a whip
of time singing sparks,
screaming steam
from mourning breaks
and shots of vodka
that ricochet past Komarovsky
like a snake of black
bent on the track.

I huddle on my tram,
which rattles like my old teeth,
and again touch her memory
which butterflies into words to write,
to fly, to her lost grave
and kiss that sorrow’d soil
where my dark leaf lies
on its broken back,
with my father’s mistakes
bent on the track.

Inky judge Andrew D Williams writes: A poem that touches on an early moment in the story, as Yuri’s father falls to his death from the train. The short lines echo the sound of the train on the track, while the images and events flash past. A train can only go where the rails will take it, and likewise Yuri’s life is a series of unfortunate events that he has little control over.

Mark Sheeky is a surrealist artist in paint, music, and writing. His poetry has moved on hugely in the past couple of years, partly by knowing more poets. Mark’s latest poetry book, The Burning Circus, was published in 2020 and includes a foreword by former Cheshire Poet Laureate, John Lindley. Marks’ book, 21st Century Surrealism, is a successful contemporary re-examination of the First Surrealist Manifesto. You can find more of Mark’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Untitled by Rachel Cohen

The world was covered in the gloom
Of swirling snow.
A candle glowed in the room,
A candle glowed.
Like summer insects swarm to flame
In buzzing clouds,
The snowflakes at windowpanes
Would thickly crowd.
The blizzard painted icy plumes
In frozen rows.
A candle glowed in the room,
A candle glowed.
And on the ceiling, now dim
The light was tossing
The shadows of hands and limbs –
In fateful crosses.
The cloth would slide, the bed would creak,
Light shoes fall down.
The candle’s waxy tears streaked
Her cast-off gown.
The winter scattered its white bloom
On high and low.
A candle glowed in the room,
A candle glowed.
Temptation readied its hot sting
-The candle burning –
And crossed above its angel wings
Aflame with yearning.
All February fell the gloom
Of swirling snow.
And then the candle lit the room,
The candle glowed

Inky judge Andrew D Williams writes: A poem apparently inspired by Boris Pasternak’s “A Winter’s Night”, and likewise focused on a candle glowing in the February night as two lovers surrender to their passions. Yuri and Lara find something between them that neither has found in their unhappy marriages – yet the cold indifference of the world will snuff out that candle all too soon.

Rachel Cohen practices law in Canada, and says that writing is an inoffensive hobby.  

Andrew D Williams writes psychological thrillers with a streak of dark humour. His stories question the nature of reality and those beliefs we hold most dear – who we are, what we think is true, whether we can trust our own minds – and combine elements of science fiction with philosophical questions. When he isn’t writing, Andrew’s time is split between swearing at computers, the occasional run and serving as one of the cat’s human slaves. You can find more of Andrew’s work here on Ink Pantry.