Third Prize: Pippa Little, 'Spell for a Stonemason'

Third Prize: Pippa Little,

‘Spell for a Stonemason’

Pippa Little’s poem ‘Spell for a Stonemason’ has won Third Prize in the 2020 Newcastle Poetry Competition.


Spell for a Stonemason


Sister flies south for a day and a night,

a night and a day.

This first early dusk without her


I stir cumin, turmeric and saffron into burnished oil

as god-speed and in gratitude, for here

we are turning away from the sun; soon


your hands will remember how cut stone sings with cold,

new tombs memorise themselves in frost.

Shyly you brought it, gold leaf fine as skin,


burning soft for the sockets of her boy’s name

on his wind-bleached grave. It warms itself now

in the ammonite darkness of her case.


The kitchen looms yellow-deep;

I think how loving kindness can anneal old hurts,

bless dry tributaries; how my spoon’s arc,


swirling jet trails of gleam and solder,

is a kind of wildfire

seen from a back road far into the woods.


Pippa Little lives in Northumberland where she has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her first collection Overwintering (Carcanet, 2012) was shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre Award; her second Twist (Arc, 2017) for the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year. A third is forthcoming.