Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize 2022 – specially commended

    Heilien Diedericks
    PhD Global Health and Social Medicine, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine

Moving the family

Through the passenger window, the mountain burns.
The Mantis God lives in those flames; her white karos the break between heat and death.
Once, She rode the mountain’s back as it stood up from bottom of the boiling ocean, but
today She is hidden behind red sky and burning books; beneath crumbling dassies and countless other dead things.
The remains of the mountain fall toward us like dark snow; our windscreen wipers charcoal the world chiaroscuro.


Next to me, Ouma sits still dying.
The ice in her eyes yet unthawed; for once she’s not said a word.
On this day, we’d wanted to see the blue shore, for old time’s sake.
And so
Ma and Pa swerve burning tires, pieces of bricks and holes in tandem.
Oncoming headlights are pale screams as they speed past in the smoke; inside the car we taste the same sour notes.
I forget how big a mountain is burning; it follows us for miles along the coast.


I’ve never known how big an Old God is.


We reach the shore, hacking and wheezing; the crowds are gone,and the sunis liquid across the burnt sky.
Through the window smoke still rises; the God claims what she is owed:
the last of the fish float up, bloated from the whitened waves like bursting piñadas.


Their scales silver our shoulders; our hands reaching to touch them.
Across the bay the mountain burns; our tongues too ash-clotted to speak



    Thomas Whittaker
    MA Contemporary Literature, Culture & Theory, Department of English


Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize

About Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize

The prize - open to all students at King’s College London - honours Cosmo, who died in June 2008 while still a student in the English Department at KCL. It seeks to remember his creativity and his love of words. The judges for the 2022 prize were Dr Luke Roberts, Professor Ruth Padel, and Dr Sarah Howe.