"Seven bums and fourteen legs,
a brazen ecstasy which begs
the question some of us are asking -
is Peter Goulding multi-tasking?"

Martin Parker, Editor, Lighten Up Online

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Strokestown!! Part 1

Dee Gaynor, myself in the polo shirt my wife made me wear and Martin Parker

Okay, back from a wonderful weekend in Strokestown with a head full of poetry and a belly full of Guinness. Where to begin? Well perhaps, we'll do it one day at a time.

Arrived at the Percy French Hotel mid-afternoon on the Friday and immediately met up with Dee Gaynor from London, who was a finalist last year and again this year. Ditto Martin and Caroline Parker from Devon - this was in fact Martin's third consecutive year to be shortlisted in the Humorous Verse competition.

No Sean Lyons this year. He'd won it the past two years, but was graciously leaving the field free for the rest of us this year.

And no festival committee chairman Pat Compton - surely the driest man in Ireland either - who had been bought an anniversary holiday away!

But Declan O'Brien and Shane Lynskey stepped up to the mark. Only seven of us, well, six in fact as Elizabeth Rowe (who was also shortlisted for the main prize) couldn't make it until the Saturday (Declan read her poem - the performance of the evening, he commented later)

Anyway, I must apologise to the 3 other shortlisted finalists. The names were up on the website, so I didn't write them down, but they've gone now. I've mailed the festival committee looking for the names and will post up on receipt.

My poem was called Old. I actually wrote it for my sister-in-law last year on her 50th birthday. It had a nice rhythm so I managed to read it fairly well. Everybody started clapping after the second verse but I was only turning the page, so had to advise them there was another 45 minutes still to go!

Dee's poem about man-flu was very clever and very well observed. I was sorry she didn't make the final three. Martin Parker got third with a very self-deprecatory and very funny poem about reading his own medical records in the doctor's surgery.

My apologies to the lady who was second, as I've forgotten her name. She did a very clever take on Sailing to Byzantium which I thought was probably the most original of the seven finalists.

And I got the ash-plant. Second win (I won it in 2008 too) so I think I will probably do a Sean Lyons and retire for a couple of years. I'm sure people are sick of seeing me up there on the podium (6 poems in 6 years now) I'm actually fairly sick of myself, at this stage.

My daughter says I can now make a pair of stilts.


  1. Thanks Orla. And thanks to Helena and David for commenting on a previous post.

  2. Well done! I'd love to have been there (although frankly, as a Yank, I might not have understood all the readings - sorry!). I've read the Old poem & it's fantastic! I might have to use it on a friend or too - the problem is that I'm either older or the same age as they are. It's a conundrum.

  3. Pete, I just read the good news about Strokestown on the Poetry Ireland website (sorry I missed it on your blog). Congratulations...again! At this stage, you're part of the furniture at Strokestown--they just dust you off every spring.

    Don't you dare think of retiring from the Percy French--this prestigious festival is a terrific platform to showcase your talents.

  4. Hi Peter,
    I was looking for your winning poem and found your blog, so glad that you think I'm a lady! Congratulations again,
    Siobhán Flynn (2nd place)

  5. Thanks Dana - yes I was actually 49 at the time I wrote it!
    Connie, many thanks, no, I think an egg is an egg, as they say in France
    Siobhan, delighted you got in touch. Did you get shortlisted in Goldsmith too? Sorry I didn't have more time to chat last Friday!

  6. Yay! Why did you make me read the whole post to find out you won?! Scream it from the header please.
    Huge congratulations.

  7. Thanks Titus. Just pretending to be modest, I guess!