And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for August 2015 is Barbara O’Donnell

We are very pleased to be able to announce that the IS&T ‘Pick of the Month’ for August is Itch by Barbara O’Donnell. Barbara has generously asked that her prize be donated to the charity Mind.





Stacks of National Geographics

filled the wardrobe to my waist.

The dust inviting sneezes.

Misaligned yellow spines.

Careless visitors would toss

them back any old way.


My fingers would itch

to restore their rightful order.

Oh the itch, manifest many ways.

Persistent chafe of rashes,

result of childhood curiosities.

The itch where my wings should be.



Voters’ comments included:

It just really hits the spot – especially the bit about itching to re-organise the pile of magazines. It’s just the right mixture of lyrical and humorous, too.

Good imagery and the last line is superb.

I have the same itch to align magazine spines! The choice and arrangement of words were pure magic, though. 🙂

Stunning poem. Had to remind myself to breathe while reading it was so absorbed in it!

I love the surprising imagery of this poem.

Her fabulous use of words

Authentic. Makes the mundane exciting.


A number of voters mentioned how hard it was to choose this time. Comments on the other short-listed poets include:

Josep Chanzà, Conversation

  Beautifully written and resonates with my own experience

  Wild imagery and powerful emotions contained by the simplicity of the structure -.the reader feels they are flying with the poet ready to catch them , despite his sorrow.

Josephine Corcoran, Old Girls

  Wonderful images and power in the restraint

  Since I first read it, I’ve been haunted by this poem. I was hoping it would be on the shortlist and I’m thrilled to see it there.

Chrissie Cuthbertson, For the last time

  I found the fragility and emotion in the poem very compelling. It is an everyday and inevitable process of growing, but dealt with in a very beautiful way.

  Such a moving poem that says so much in so few words. The emotion radiating from Chrissie’s is both poignant and powerful.

David Ishaya Osu, Trance

  It is the one that unlocked me.

  I chose “Trance” because of its expansive sweep, how it refuses to allow any view of “the world” except as a single unit, with the implications that we all misjudge, we are all insignificant, we all fail, we are all in need of encouragement to lift us up.

Gill McEvoy, Assignation

  The sparsity of words leads you but still leaves much to be imagined

  It caught my imagination and took me to another place…

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