Many moons ago, when I was a young and hungry journalist trying to make my way in the world, I had the good fortune to work with Emma Simon. As the years went by we both climbed our respective greasy poles and continued to bump into each other at industry events and on questionable press trips. Today, both of us are still trying to make our way in the world, albeit a little less peckish and a little more settled. Emma recently won a prestigious poetry prize for a stunning piece of writing. Read it and your day will be all the brighter for having done so.




The trick is to hold three braids in two hands

and ignore the logistics of mornings.

Wind the first over the second, then cross


the third over the first, and so on. Don’t get cross

with excessive fidgeting, or arguments slipping like hoarded minutes out of hand.

Keep a zen-like calm in your fingers. Remember even school mornings


don’t last forever. Focus on this unremarkable Tuesday morning,

the soft nape and collar crease beneath the wonky plait. Let the yin yang of its criss cross

weave a tender magic, like an proverb handed


across the generations, mourning that there is never enough time, nor enough hands.



A note about the author:

Emma Simon tries to juggle journalism with poetry and parenthood. Occasionally she managed to keep all three balls in the air at once. She has worked for The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Guardian and has had poems published in Prole, Antiphon and Other Poetry. This poem won first prize in the Prole Laureate competition.

Other winners and more details about this independently run literary magazine can be found at

This is what the judges had to say about Emma’s poem:

“This poem stood out immediately:  an apparently simple first stanza, then an increasingly complex layering of language and ideas, and all concentrated within the action of plaiting a child’s hair before school.  The poem brings in time, generations, mourning, but lightly, and it was only on the third reading that I noticed the form (a tritina).  Subject and form support each other so effectively that they become inseparable: a memorable and impressive poem.”