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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

Starting at the top! - 1st Place - Miriam Wolff

With each year that we run the MONO. Poetry Prize, Tina and I are more and more blown away by the calibre and quality of the work submitted. To say it is an honour, is an understatement.

This year like last year, we have a winner at the very beginning of their writing career, Miriam Wolff, a writer and poet with a wisdom and expression way beyond her 22 years, who I am convinced will go on to do amazing things.

Our judge Blake Auden said:

'The overall quality of the submissions was exceptionally high, and picking a winner was much more difficult than I anticipated. It's been a genuine pleasure reading through the work submitted, and I would strongly encourage those who participated to continue submitting to competitions and to poetry journals - I have no doubt there are some future literary stars in this cohort. The winning poem really stayed with me after reading it - the author demonstrates a surgical ability to cut to the crux of the issue, delivering a hugely resonant, current and emotional poem in only five lines. The choice of formatting as a Tanka, the relationship between the poem and the title, the lyrical delivery, adherence to the theme and the incredible second and third lines all combined to make this my first place choice. I can't wait to read more of this author's work.

Be inspired!


Mother’s beaten prayer:

May my daughters be ugly,

safe from man and god

For even death can’t protect

our cold bodies from missing

- in answer to: why do morgues hire less men?



An interview with Miriam:

Tell us a little about your writing journey to date:

My love of writing started when I was small, with my father reading to me. I found words intensely beautiful and had this un-itchable urge to replicate the feelings I experienced from them. From there, writing poetry developed as a source of tremendous relief. I have some poetry published in minor journals under a nom de plume, but this is the first time I’ve ever had the courage to pursue something with my name attached to it.

What appeals to you about short-form poetry?

Sometimes brevity begets profundity. There is fragility when few words are present, and in this, there is the question of “How can I bare myself to you with such little space?” However, in this smallness, there is something larger allowing the reader to infuse their own meaning. It’s like pressing your eye to a keyhole and seeing something much bigger on the other side.

Why did you apply for this competition in particular?

I am 22 years old and still growing into myself and my writing. I have never explored the realm of short-form poetry before and I wanted to pursue a challenge. This type of poetry demands precision and distillment. There’s no room for superfluous words or sprawling – starve the ego of that, and you're left with only the necessary syllables to stir the soul.

What poet/s have inspired your work?

Some poets who inspire me are Rumi, Ocean Vuong, Aracelis Girmay, Silvia Plath, Richard Siken, and e.e. cummings (and so so many more).

Congratulations Miriam!


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