This week participants were asked to respond, in poetry or prose to the following prompts:

  1. WHAT I ATE FOR BREAKFAST: A LESSON ON LIBERALISM
  2. AN ODE TO THE TRUE LIBERALS OF CAMBRIDGE
  3. LIFE SAT ON A PICKET FENCE. A MEMOIR.

All the entries were of very high quality, so in addition to choosing a first prize and two honourable mentions, Freddie Fisk has provided a judges comment for each.

1st Prize

Samuel Rubinstein | Life sat on a Picket Fence, A Memoir

This sensitively crafted vignette is brimming with wit and insight. With the guidance of the Angel Lynne Featherstone, Rubenstein shows us how we must remain resilient in face of our opponents. His work gets to the heart radical fence sitting liberalism in Cambridge. For this, he has been awarded 1st prize.

Life Sat on a Picket Fence: A Memoir

OR
Why Cambridge is Making Me More Right Wing
BEING
SOME REFLECTIONS
ON
Class Struggle
FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A
Young and Beleaguered
STUDENT
The morning came, and I commenced
My walk towards the Sidgwick Site,
I brought my book, to make some notes –
I wasn’t looking for a fight.
 
The cow at King’s mooed me hello.
All was peaceful; the sun shone brightly.
“How happy I am to learn!” I thought,
And smiled, as I marched on sprightly.
 
I’m hardly a pugnacious soul –
By God, I wouldn’t hurt a fly –
But alas, when I walked up the road,
Things began to go awry.
 
I turned a corner, and there they were –
The radical leftists, the hard-liners –
Middle-class students and academics
Cosplaying as 80s’ miners.
 
“Scab!” they shouted at me loudly.
I pretended not to hear their cruel remarks.
“Look at him”, said one dirty beard to another –
“It’s like he hasn’t even read his Marx”.
 
“It’s disgusting”, the other one replied,
His piercings flapping in the breeze,
“It reminds me – what was it Gramsci said? –
That ‘filthy scabs deserve broken knees’”.
 
“Did Gramsci really say that?”, I said; he growled
“You’ve crossed the picket line; you’re a disgrace to the nation.
Don’t you know that if you go to lectures
You promote the marketisation of education?”
 
I summoned all my inner strength.
I called my guardian angel, to bring me calm.
Lady Featherstone appeared to me. I opened my mouth.
“Well, I don’t see the harm.”
 
The two men glared and scowled and spluttered.
“What are you, some kind of fascist Tory?”
 “How dare you!” I said, “I am no such thing” –
And he punched my eye. It was rather gory.
 
Hot blood poured down my nose and cheeks.
“You’ve insulted me, sir; I demand satisfaction!”
For I was a liberal, a radical centrist
Who transcended ideology, and party faction.
 
To call me Tory thus was slander
Which stung more than a punch; a textbook case
Of defamation prompted me to punch
Both arseholes squarely in the face.
 
And as the two men howled in pain,
The Lady Lynne whispered in my ear:
“Run, young squire, fast and far,
Run and get straight out of here.”
 
“I’m sorry, messieurs; I must abscond.”
“Comrade no! He’s getting away!”
I ran and ran, till I was beyond
The picket line, where I could stay.

 
One of them chased me across the line.
The other said to him, with asperity:
“O comrade, you’ve crossed the hallowed picket;
You’ve broken solidarity.”
 
The fallen angel knelt and sobbed quite deeply,
And, though nobody witnessed his transgression,
He was more ashamed of that than he was
Ashamed of his rampant aggression.
 
I brushed myself off, and I walked calmly.
In the distance I could still hear him cry;
And, with Lady Lynne by my side,
I entered the Seeley with a black eye. 
 
 
So, reader, from this strange altercation,
See that liberals would die for their education.

Honourable Mentions

Laurence Van Someren | An Ode to the True Liberals of Cambridge

One cannot help but finish reading this tightly pact ode in anything less than kidney rupturing hysterics. As ever, Van Someren has outdone himself, leaving his readers bemused at his most recent liberal hot take.

Say what you want about Cambridge’s cows—
at least they’re principled, and uphold their vows.
They may lack leaflets, badges, and bar charts,
but they are the liberal vanguard, round these parts.

Cows know what liberalism is really about:
it’s breathing in, then breathing out.
It’s less about weed, and residents’ parking surveys,
and more the placid charm of rus in urbe.

I don’t think I would enjoy being a cow.
I’d yearn for topology, Beyoncé, and xiao long bao.
But at least I’d be spared the endless democratic rejection,
and the anguish of postponed party leadership elections.

In every common the cows commandeer,
they, unlike us, can claim to be ‘winning here’.
We liberal humans can only campaign—or moan—
until the Cambridge cows come home.

Angus Robinson | Lessons in Liberalism: What I Ate for Breakfast

We asked for entries which defied convention, and on this count Robinson’s Haiku delivers. Robinson masters the unusual Japanese style well. His work is bear and penetrating.

Slicing my grapefruit

                                  Along optimal borders,

                                                          I
                                                         swallowed it
                                                              whole.

Other Strong Entries

(In no particular order)

The texts of these entries can be found collated here:

Sophie West | An Ode to the True Liberals of Cambridge

Special thanks must be given to Sophie for what is perhaps the best recreation of Keatsian posey this century. Perhaps a little too congratulatory of the labour party for our tastes but nonetheless a very flamboyant and rhythmic contribution to April’s Canon.

Lewis Sinclair | LIBRANTO (With Apologies to GK Chesterton)

With its bouncy Brave Heart style, Sinclair’s impressive entry leaves one unashamedly proud to be a liberal in a losing battle. At the same time, this is a densely woven poem. Oozing in metaphors and political references, it leaves much to be unpacked. 

Gabriel Barton-Singer | An Ode to the True Liberals of Cambridge

Rhythm is the name of this entry. Barton-Singer is a master of the rhyming couplet and shows he is a dab hand with the liberal beat. Astute and to the point as ever, we thank him for this contribution. 

Keir Bradwell | Lessons in Liberalism: What I ate for Breakfast

Keir writes in a maverick style of liberal triumphalism which can only be rivalled by Gladstone’s 1853 budgetary speech. The major part of this work captures CULA’s self-aggrandisement well. Ending by bringing us soundly back to earth, however, this piece reminds us all of the need to remain self-aware.

Angus Robinson | An Ode to the True Liberals of Cambridge

The bees of St John’s are our liberal heroes in this steady Limerick. An enjoyable short read which leaves us questioning the political orientation of flying insects, Robinson’s second entry lives up to his strong reputation.

Josh Newman | Lessons in Liberalism: What I ate for Breakfast

An entry which is clearly crafted by a scientist, Newman’s unique tract utilises technology in a way this judge can’t understand. Nonetheless, the acerbic commentary here bemuses all who marvel at Newman’s work. We thank him for the auditory and visual aid.

Categories: Competitions