Changing Minds: Memories Lost and Found

By Dunedin Public Libraries | Posted: Thursday September 19, 2019

The Winner of the Poetry Competition

The Changing minds: Memories Lost and Found poetry competition was sponsored by Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, and presented by Dunedin Public Libraries in partnership with the New Zealand Neurological Foundation, with the support of Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, Alzheimer’s Otago, poet Sue Wootton and Dr Yoram Barak, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychological Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago.

We are proud to announce the winning poem is "Harsh Light" by Elizabeth Brooke-Carr, Dunedin.

Harsh light - Elizabeth Brooke-Carr (10 July 1940 - 3 September 2019)

The officer who

drove her home

(no siren, no

flashing lights)

walks around the

police car to open

the passenger door.

He offers his arm,

escorts her along the

bewildering pathway. At

the porch steps she stops,

slides her arm from his,

turns, sweetly confused,

leans her wrinkled cheek

against his uniformed chest.

He steadies her, a gentle

touch of elbow. She

wobbles up on tip-toe,

bestows a goodnight kiss

below his ear.

The officer knows there’s

nothing much there, the old

dear’s all musty lavender,

faced lace and stained seams.

Empty space.

She’s lost it.

He bears the intimacy with gallant grace.

The man weeping

in the open doorway

at the top of the steps

knows she hasn’t

forgotten everything.

She’s remembering

long ago when it was he

who brought her home from the local

dance and, eager for a last kiss

before her father opened wide

the villa door

and spilled harsh light

on their shy goodnight, she’d

stood on tip-toe, face aglow,

uplifted, waiting for his


Here is the full list of winners:

First Place: Elizabeth Brooke-Carr, Dunedin “Harsh Light”

Finalist: Victor Billot, Dunedin “Snow”

Finalist: Audrey Lappin, Auckland “We Played Cards Last Night, My Friend and I”

Finalist: Tom Pemham, Dunedin “Of the Moment, Of the Mind”

Finalist: Kaye Gilhooley, Opawa “Swiss Cheese” 

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