Pier poetry winner came 200 miles to collect prize

Jake Reynolds
Jake Reynolds

THE TEENAGER who won a competition to write a poem about Hastings Pier travelled more than 200 miles to collect his prize.

The competition was run in conjunction with the pier benefit comedy event on March 30, featuring Jo Brand and other comedians.

The poems written by the winner Jake Reynolds, 17, from Lincoln and the two runners-up were read out at the event by comedian and actress Doon Mackichan.

Jake has never lived in Hastings, but has fond memories of the pier from many trips to visit his grandparents in Hastings over the years.

Already a keen poet, when he heard about the competition from his grandparents he was inspired to enter.

Hi s poem portrays the pier as a living, breathing being, and describes the fire of 2010: “flames jumped across your fingers/like monkeys across a canopy”

He said: “I remember going on the pier when I was younger.

“I was pleased with the poem, but I had no idea it would win. It is definitely a confidence boost.”

The sixth form student, who has already had his work published by the Young Poets Network said that winning the competition had been a definite confidence boost.

He hopes to go on to study English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Second place in the poetry competition went to John Knowles and third to Kate Tym.

PIER by Jake Reynolds

Stood ankle-deep in foam

we urged you to wade

a little deeper

into the black sea

just bend your legs a little more

into the pools of Rock-a-Nore

feel sea-spittle

against your iron shins

you declined, bowed your head,

turned solemnly to the sun

as it cast spider silhouettes across the ocean

of your bandy-legged defiance

you never complained

as you groaned under the weight

of a hundred-strong choir

singing into the night

the dull throb of bass

lasted until the early hours

Syd Barrett made sure

he apologised for the noise

before he left you to holiday

on the dark side of the moon

you took it all upon your chin

and back

and open wooden arms

to storms you buckled

but turned the other cheek

to the sun you looked

when all else was bleak

the ravages of the sea

forced you to retreat

dip your toes in, we urged,

cold though it is

your touch will warm the water

and like a child’s first steps

you made the gradual journey

back into the sea

still uncertain as to what the future

of the world had in store

like Atlas, you held a slice of life

of culture and companionship

on your weary wooden shoulders

you built courage to finally

see across the horizon once more

battle-scars warned the waves

of the hardships you had faced

rock pools shied away

from the time you had misplaced

you were loved

by all and everyone

but two boys, either Prometheus

wielding stolen fire

or Neptune waging war

on your bones,

torched you on an autumn night

scorched the runway of the mariner

we still await the day those boys

feel the weight of the albatrosses

sighing at their necks

flames jumped across your fingers

like monkeys across a canopy

every beam breaking, clattering

like a twig in bicycle spokes

you obeyed our first request

to wade in a little deeper

cooling yourself off

from cowardly embers

did it hurt?

because you looked at peace

as you bowed down to the sea

turning to face Hastings one more time,

nodding in acknowledgement

of those that were so kind

how they remember your face

chiselled in the embers

like Ulysses tipping his hat

to his oldest friends

graciously accepting

this is indeed the end

your body was mourned for weeks

as though you were the town’s daughter