In association with Keith Arthur, Magma is delighted to announce the results of the competition for the best new poem about fishing.

The competition was devised and judged by Keith Arthur and Magma’s Alan Ferrett.

Keith Arthur is the leading UK broadcaster on angling, presenting Fisherman’s Blues (from the Waterboys’ song) on TalkSPORT (Mw 1053, 1089 kHz) on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8am. He also presents Tight Lines for Sky Sports and writes columns for Angling Times, the leading angling weekly, and Total Coarse Fishing and Match Fishing magazines.

The competition ran from November to January, with some entries read by Keith each week on Fisherman’s Blues. Keith writes:

“I was staggered at the amount of interest generated, and at the number and quality of the entries. I have read every single one and enjoyed what I read enormously. There was a huge diversity of entrants – from anglers exhibiting their love of the sport, to observers of all kinds of fishing, with rod or net, to those that used the term fishing as a cliché, even to some from what us anglers lovingly refer to as ‘fishing widows’…and yes, there are fishing widowers too! I am sure that for several it was their first experience of formally writing down poetry. I plead with them to continue; their efforts are not in vain. To those more experienced poets that maybe had fishing enter their psyche for the first time, I plead with them to learn more of what I describe as, ‘The best excuse for loafing in the countryside’.”

The first prize is a luxury two night stay for the winner and guest at The Compleat Angler at Marlow with (for a winner interested in fishing), a day’s angling at Marlow with Keith Arthur. Runners-up and their guest will be invited to a lunch at The Compleat Angler. The winning poems will be published in Magma 37. The prizes will be presented by Keith Arthur at the Magma 37 launch reading at Troubadour, Earls Court, in March when the winners and runners-up are invited to read their poems.

1st Prize

Julia Casterton

Señor Lobelinos

We sit over his nets. He doesn’t fish now but

sometimes he sits with the nets
in the fishermen’s house on the lonxa.

Somehow we talk a little
me with my small gallego, he with his small English
among the nets.

The fishermen leave for the fish, he says.
They take the currents they’ve always taken
to the New World, for the cod,

for the hake. The secret routes

sailed by the Basques, the Gallegans,
long before Columbus.

And often they make another life
away from the rains of Galicia,
leaving their families on the calle des emigrantes

for a softer life away from here.
Señor Lobelinos has not done this.
He always returned with his catch

and now his daughter is a lawyer in Santiago,

his wife is round and happy. I ask him
What is his best moment, in his life with the fish.

In Canada, he tells me.
In a bar I heard my own name spoken
by an old man on a corner chair.

He was my grandfather. We were there
the whole afternoon. That was when I knew
that the bitter season means nothing

because though the sea draws us out

and we are scattered,
there is a magnet at the root of the world

that lands us together face to face.

2nd Prize

Dot Lubienska

By the Willows

I saw him standing in the river, by the willows,
A tall man wearing a tweed hat.
Long waders making him look even taller.

Green against green.

He was fishing, his line cast down,
As were his eyes.
Then he looked up at me.
I noticed the moustache, dark
against pale but healthy skin.

His mouth did one of those clichéd things
that mouths do only in novels – it twitched into a smile.
Then he was gone.

He did not wade out of the water,
he was just gone.

“I saw a ghost today,” I told my husband at tea.
And to please the angler in him, I added finally,
“He was fishing,”
My husband looked at me,
And his mouth twitched into a smile.
Then my heart did something that hearts

do only in novels – it froze.

3rd Prize

Glenis Denley

Here We Go Again

“There must be a full moon on the way”
He climbs back into a bed.
“It’s warming up and the wind’s dropped off”
So casually said!

He still thinks I haven’t guessed his game

this “morning cup of tea”.
Last evening guess who prepared the veg?
Would you believe – no prompting from me.

“Might give Peter a ring tonight” –
“Nothing definite though you mind!”
Then – almost disguised with an obvious yawn
“I think I need a new line!”

“Here we go,” I say to myself,
“Goodbye to my trip in the car.
If Peter agrees – as he jolly well will,
I won’t be going far!!”

“Mind you – I did go with him once;
His protesting was far too lame.
But why at the end of a ‘fishless day’
Should my presence be really to blame?”

So – he lies here – his thoughts elsewhere,
I lie here – but no good wishing.
We’ve been here many times before.
My husband’s going fishing!!