Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty!


From this year's 'Love Letters to London' writing competition, sponsored by Almacantar, Footwork and Stiff+Trevillion.

Full details of the winners and runners up are here.

You can buy our printed booklet of all of the winning and placed entries here (£6.50 for members, £7.50 non members. P+P included). Or you can get the PDF version to download here.

If you'd like information on the next 'Love Letters' competition, enter your details here, and we'll be in touch later in the year.

Fiona Dignan

Fragmentary Softenings

and along, along the circuit tracks, the boy with mustard trousers 

matches the marmalade seats as the saggy spaniel sways 

in the carriage’s thrall, bumps the boy who feels the fur like a blessing 

and up, up and out the train rides and the city breaks 

into confetti of autumn and graffiti, where morning streets tumble with toes 

kicking the soft stains of grease on a brown paper bag, ghostly traces 

of a hot spiced bun shared with relish between two tourists who trekked 

to the steps where up, up the children sprout from South Kensington station

a crocodile of yellow high-viz, with dinosaurs in their dreams 

and hands held in pearls of pairs and along

along to the Shoreditch stop, where the girlfriends gaze 

at saffron sunflowers and their babies roll on the floor

of the Van Gogh exhibit, dozy and dazed by the bursts of blue

their tubby limbs touching gold, gold as the Battersea Buddha 

where the couple kiss and he wipes the wind from his boyfriend’s eyes

to see the blue of the pigeon’s streak that glints with glee 

at the woman with the chignon bun as she feeds it crumbs by the feet 

of the boy who’s all blazer and boots and rushing

to catch the Central line to meet a lass he’s seen on a screen 

as a premonition of love and over, along the Northern line to Highgate

where the stone sentries of the dead are tended by the touch

of those who stroke the centuries like braille, and over

over the shards of skyline to the girl who hesitates 

before the velvet curve of the horse’s neck at Hyde Park

slowly, slowly fingers curl over glossed teak tufts and there, there now girl

she strokes and whispers and the beast bends into her palm

warm and tender as the pulsing purple vein

of the Piccadilly line to Ealing where an elderly man mops eggs

with toast like he’s wiping winter sun, glancing at the child watching 

with a yes on her lips, lips curled like the Globe where the actor steps 

with ghosts in their mouth and says all the world is a stage 

and players play on and everything

feels arbitrary and at once

the colours and slogans, the art and the waste and the people and beasts, the ghosts and the gods and words and the glass and the paint, the tracks and routes circling, circling but amongst all this thrall, this is the way 

the city softens itself daily

through all those fragments

of connection, that must add up

to something like tenderness