Olga-Dermott-Bond’s winning poem: My daughter’s first eye test

Every year, Poetry on Loan runs a poetry competition for people who live, work or study in the West Midlands. This year’s theme was Vision, and the winner of the adult category was this poem – My daughter’s first eye test, by Olga Dermott-Bond.


Olga is originally from Northern Ireland and read English at the University of St. Andrews. Her debut poetry pamphlet “apple, fallen” is published by Against the Grain Press. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Dodging the Rain, MagmaStrix, Cordite ReviewUnder the RadarInk Sweat and TearsThe Interpreter’s House and Paper Swans. She was the winner of BBC Proms poetry competition 2019 and is a commissioned artist for Coventry City of Culture 2021. Olga was selected as one of the emerging poets for Bedtime Stories of the End of the world. She is an Assistant Head in a secondary school in Warwickshire and has two daughters. @olgadermott

olga5‘Olga Dermott-Bond’s superb poems make their way towards searing emotion via craft, detailed observation and a kind of glittering acceptance that the world we have is the world we must write about and the job of the poet is to make art from the flawed things around us. These poems reward rereading and hang around in your mind, delivering phrases and lines back to you at unexpected times that turn out to be the times you need them most.’  Ian McMillan 

‘Vivid and powerful.’ Ana Sampson-McLaughlin 

The Editor’s Wilderness Poem

crack-12-greenby Carl Griffin

When I first invited poets to send me their fragments or poems so that I could stitch them together into one cohesive poem (which became Arrival at Elsewhere), I had a few ideas in mind of the kind of poetry I wanted to see, and the topics I wanted to avoid. However, I left the initial invitation as open as possible. I didn’t want to limit my options. The brief was simply to send work that had been written during the time of the coronavirus, even if the work was not necessarily about the virus. Sometimes we write our best poetry on a subject when focusing on a different subject altogether.

But after a couple of months of receiving work and starting on the long poem, I had noticed a few lines and topics and approaches cropping up again and again. In an update to the poets involved, in case they hadn’t yet sent their poetry in, or were planning to send more, I decided to put together a bit of a list of things I needed and things I definitely did not need. As editors are prone to (if I can get away with calling myself an editor), I rambled on for quite some time. One of the poets kindly decided to turn my ramblings into a found poem. I have kindly turned his found poem into something I feel encapsulates even more what I was looking for, upon deciding on the path I would take with the poem. This short-shelf poem, found by Peter Sirr, and then found again by myself, hopefully gives a good insight into my thought process while putting the Arrival at Elsewhere poem together, although, as the last stanza might suggest, I did break my own rules just subtly enough.EditorWildernessPoem

Buy Arrival at Elsewhere

Arrival at Elsewhere – a glimpse

Arrival at Elsewhere – creating characters