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Hexham Poetry Competition Winner 2023 - Ali Rowland

Ali Rowland is a poet and author originally from Sheffield and now living in Northumberland who has returned to writing relatively late in life. Her poetry is sometimes about her own mental health issues, and sometimes about the world in general. She is assisted in her endeavours by a wonderful husband and a beautiful Border Terrier. Ali’s poems have appeared in Tabula Rasa: Poems by Women (Linen Press): Ten Poems of Kindness Vol. 2 (Candlestick Press): Dreich Magazine, The Frogmore Papers, The Journal, Amsterdam Quarterly: The Open Journal of Arts and Letters: Green Ink Poetry, The Dawntreader and Obsessed with Pipework. Her short stories have appeared in The Amphibian Literary Magazine. 

    Mam on Demand

    “Mam, mam,”

    her body is always full of them:

    one carried, yet to be able to stand,

    another held, gently hand-in-hand,

    the third, walking himself just, guided by glancing

    fingertips between his tiny shoulder blades.

    There is nothing of her left to give as more

    protection, except her voice, and the boundless

    extent of her care.

    She always seems to be

    this widened, jagged silhouette which sometimes spreads

    but always folds each child in rhythmically, as if kneading bread.

    So much so, that seen without them

    she is slight, seems drifting and unanchored, light,

    and moving like a dancer, her child-form borrowed back

    for a while, not whole, quite, not quite looking right.

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