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Monday, 2 April 2012

Gender Equality Society poetry competition winner: Quen Powell

The Gender Equality Society hosted a poetry competition open to all Exeter University students.  The theme of the competition was EMPOWERMENT.  We saw some outstanding entries that showed great thought, talent and inspiration and choosing between them was really difficult.  However, after much thought, the winner was chosen as Quen Powell with her poem ‘V’.  Congratulations Quen!

Quen read her poem on stage at the Empowering Women Day exhibition and was presented with her £25 cash prize.  For those of you who were not able to attend, here is the winning poem!



This is your shame, and every woman's shame.
The 'v' pinned silent between my groaning thighs
is for violent, vacillant, vacant, vain.
Not for virginal, virtuous; virtually tame.
Fend off the wolves, choke back the ruby cries
of bellowing, writhing lust, shivering pain.
I reign my pleasures, draw the flesh in tight,
I seek out the mercy and the holy light,
again, again, again,
again, again.


Wanton, wanting beneath that neat triangle of hair, curled-gold sweet, uniform,
like a field of wheat. Warm is her flesh, her form, her tight dense heat.
The minutes rush, flushed mouth drips dark with guttural cries
the orrr the gaz the mmmm between her blushing thighs
a fire burns low in her, jewel-bright embers
so close – no mind – but the flesh remembers
she thrashes in the arms of the cold night air
she is undone; whines in prayer;
for more – oh God –
 for more, my God,
oh more.


Midnight, the hand on her shoulder, under her chin, fingers press bruises into the skin,
she breathes the drunken damp of his breath. His eyes are like her father's eyes
they scare her half to death, and just do it he says,
please, Jesus, please.
eases her underwear down to her knees. He's done this before.
he strokes her hair, nuzzles her ear, his whisper is a wordless
roar: sofuckinggoodyoubeautifulwhore.
All silver in the moonlight glazed
with sweat; her bare legs parted
Oh love,
if he was going to stop
then he never would have started.
you wanted real life, an Eastenders drama
now you've scars for life, the grey void of post-trauma.
her skin takes his orders; purple,
aching, swollen
all she could have given him is spoilt now and stolen
as he pushes her open – wide now, wider
a Hammer horror story crawls scarlet from inside her.


I wrote my love letter to an unborn child in sweet-spun shaking moans
in wild throes , in a crimson ache that only woman knows.
Mother knows best, and at my request, we build the nest
to house our little starling, sparrow, feathered darling.
Our egg is laid, it breathes beneath the skin.
I have built her a home of my blood to nestle in.
Be kind to me. I am a vessel for astounding beauty
with purpose and with duty I paid all prices
made slick wet sacrifices of my monthly pains
in cotton pads, cellophane package, lurid sunset sin
thrust far in the dark of the sanitary bin
the gods woke from their ancient sleep
breathed off the dust from their golden cup
drank up, drank deep, deep, deep
and saw my longing to be true
but how could it be false
my love for you,
sweet baby
pulse with my pulse.


This is my joy, and every woman's joy
A 'v' for vocal poised against my hips
for visceral, vulnerable, but never broken.
Not for vacuous, victim; virtually a toy.
I feed the wolves with my passionate lips,
bellow my love, let pain scream black and spoken
I dream my pleasures, steep myself in sin
I seek out the beauty and the heart within
that deadly crime
of lust, the curse
of skin.

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