Maggie Wang wins the Sir Roger Newdigate Prize with her poem ‘pecking orders’

tree stump in a forest with bark peeling off

Congratulations to Maggie Wang who is the winner of this year’s Sir Roger Newdigate Prize for her poem ‘pecking orders’.

The Sir Roger Newdigate Prize is open to matriculated undergraduate students of the University. The value of the prize is £500 and this year’s subject was ‘Leaks’. Entries needed to be in English verse not exceeding 300 lines in length.

Maggie has recently published her first poetry pamphlet, The Sun on the Tip of a Snail’s Shell, with Hazel Press.

You can read her winning entry below.


pecking orders

pull the heart out loving through the hollow in the neck
or between the jagged cliff edges where two continents

broke apart millions of years ago and the sea swept in
to fill the gap. watch the crop swell with a lavish spring

tide and the grain spill down the stairs of the spine lying
one against another against the next. the back recalls

a rattan cane basket patterned after the occiput of the sun,
soft and incapable of wild life. the crest holds an archive

divided diagonal at best, dripping formless shadows of
platinum eggs. the head it adorns lies flattening itself

against the novaculite lip of a tree stump bubbling sap
deep into the afterlife. the forest will heal its own wounds,

the nests build themselves up limb by frost-hardened limb
until no earthquake could shatter the silence they surround,

but the light will dally far longer, flickering unseen inside
the sewn-shut comforter of a cloud that never stops moving.