Mara Bergman - Women's Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2014 winner

Mara Bergman, The Tailor’s Three Sons and Other New York Poems

The phone call came while I was at work and my first reaction was not to answer it. The numbers that had come up were unfamiliar – I thought someone was offering to help me reclaim mis-sold PPI yet again. Instead I was asked if it was a convenient time to talk. When I heard it was Debbie Taylor from Mslexia, I was stunned, then excited – this had to be good news! – and then as if I was in a film, somehow watching, listening to every word. Afterwards I asked Debbie if she would email me straight away – otherwise I would think I’d dreamt it! I’ve been floating ever since. I’ve had many poems published in magazines and anthologies, but winning the pamphlet competition is a huge validation of my work as a whole, and a collection is something I’ve been striving for. My enormous thanks go to Mslexia and Amy Wack at Seren.’

Mara Bergman was raised in the US but came to the UK over 20 years ago. She has worked in publishing most of her adult life, first on an adult list for Macmillan, latterly on the teenage and YA list for Walker Books. She has also written many picture books for children, including Best Friends which comes out next July. Her poetry has been quite widely published: the poem above appeared first in Poetry Review; another in the collection won the Troubadour Poetry Prize.

What did the judge say?

was charmed, beguiled, intrigued and absorbed by turns by the poems from the winning pamphlet. Each seemed a complete act and could stand alone, but together they worked as a wonderful narrative of the past as set in a particular place

Amy Wack, Poetry Editor, Seren Books. The winning pamphlet The Tailor’s Three Sons and Other New York Poems will be published by Seren and available in March 2015.

Congratulations to the other highly commended writers!

  • Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Corryvreckan
  • Barbara Cumbers, A gap in the rain
  • Kathrine Sowerby, My dresses appear in markets
'Loving the little ms. Great creative pick-me-up between issues, packed with inspiration'
Rebecca Jones