Jon Stallworthy Poetry Prize awarded to Riley Faulds

riley faulds

Congratulations to Riley Faulds who was awarded this year's Jon Stallworthy Poetry Prize for his entry 'Selfslip'. Riley is studying for the MSt in World Literatures in English at Oxford. This competition has been set up in memory of the late Professor Jon Stallworthy (1935-2014), poet and Fellow of Wolfson College, and is open to any student currently enrolled in postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. The funding for the prize has been provided by generous donations to the English Faculty and to Wolfson College (Oxford) from Old Possum's Practical Trust and from the Derek Hill Foundation. This year's theme was ‘Borders’, and was judged by Professor Bernard O'Donoghue and the Oxford Professor of Poetry, A.E. Stallings.

Riley said: "To have encountered Professor Stallworthy’s beautiful writing through the prize was reward enough, but to win is very special. My poem is about a place that is central to my life and that I miss very much. To know that the judges and audience appreciate the kind of poems I write, with the ecologies of a faraway home at their centre, is very affirming. I'm feeling motivated to keep writing here in Oxford, and to read the amazing work of other students (including the other shortlistees)!"




Make the journey to Bouvard, taking the long

way round the estuary’s southern end, where

sun shocks and hazes at the crest of tallest hill, on

its track over forest and lakes, to an ocean of sand.

Arriving, the greeting sight is unexpected: two men are

perched by a campfire at the edge of autumn water.


Suspicion—people use these frontages of brown water

for diverse ends. Some traipse shallows in long

slaughter, heaving crabs fromwith weed to mar

evening with cookfires, crushing evidence in sand

above the mud line. These men, though, wear

dryness, watching stratified cloudset, on


which pale orange holds, in pre-retribution.

Walk barefoot to them, over puddled water

gathered by rain and topography onto greyed sand—

oncebush oncegrass and now, for a stretching long

while, duckdug rabbitcratered precarity, where

samphire has inched from inbeside estuary, to far


beyond what hightide lines once were and are.

Careful of these figures, hunched in confident non-

ownership of the edge. This is not their where

and that intensifies felt right to it. Land by water

is always slipping states—without vastlong

roots and rhizomes to remake soil of saltsand


‘stability’ and ‘property’ are simple mythsand

in this eroding estuarine liminality, edges are

only dictated by mindwork and moon. In long

treeshadow, these men may well be sitting on

what will soon also be territory of water

and a new tragedy of commons—one where


all living things must still, or more, beware.

Crumbled certainty (where ends who owns sand?)

leads to urgent claim of all claimable, water-

held or weed. In sketched ownership, why are

you justified to dole tough move-ons

to those implicated no more than you? Long


for men by water to not actually be there,

outlines longfaded or illusively sand.

Your instincts are shifting. Go on.


— Riley Faulds