“Natalie Perman’s poetic voice appears fully formed in her debut pamphlet Cataclysm. These poems are shot through with an energy and urgency that speaks to the subject matter of her poems. Here the poet explores the many dimensions of personal identity and the forces that shape it . . . ” Awarding judge: David Clarke
Cataclysm won the New Voices First Pamphlet Award in 2021
Our theme for submissions in May relates partly to the word Mayday. That single word means not the first day of May — a holiday, a day of joyous celebrations — but an emergency message of a violent event, a cataclysm.
“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” was supposedly coined as an unmistakable distress call by radio from aeroplanes and ships likely to crash or sink.
The word was said to be unmistakable in French, too, as it is pronounced the same way as m’aider [help me, in English]
Source: Merriam Webster
noun: cataclysm; plural noun: cataclysms
- a large-scale and violent event in the natural world.”the cataclysm at the end of the Cretaceous Period”
- a sudden violent political or social upheaval.”the cataclysm of the First World War”
Source: Oxford Dictionaries
Cataclysms can range in violence from an unwanted kiss, through rape and murder, pogroms, genocide, bombs, wars, and up to events like tsunamis, eruptions, wildfires and giant meteorites affecting the whole planet.
In Natalie Perman’s wildfire words page, you can read and/or hear 5 poems from her book Cataclysm, and see how they explore adolescence and burgeoning adulthood, love, family, identity, duty and honour.
The title poem of the book — ‘Cataclysm (at the school disco)’ — contains this telling stanza:
at the school disco couples joined their little fingers to john lennon
teacher wore a tie and pink trousers
[friend heard teacher could slip his tongue through a gap in his teeth]
when teacher kissed a girl at the school disco
Submissions on Cataclysm & Mayday
We’re looking for poems that grab our attention, pull our heart strings, leave us open-mouthed or holding our breath, make us think, make us laugh or cry, or are strikingly original. In short, poems that make us want to share them with wildfire words readers.
Submission is free. Poems can be in any format. You may submit one file containing up to 3 poems, each no longer than 40 lines including stanza breaks. Submitted poems must be totally your own original work, in English, and unpublished in print or online. Publication on your own website or self-published book is acceptable.
Do, please, supply a mini-biog of 50 words max to be published alongside your poem, and if you like publicity add your Twitter or Facebook handle or personal website. You may also submit an audio recording, made on your phone, laptop, or tablet. If we choose to publish your poem, we will also publish your bio and consider your recording for publication. Submissions will be accepted up to 11.59pm on 31 May.