The winning entries from our ninth competition are below. Scroll down to view judges’ comments. To read the winning poems check out our anthologies page.
The 2015 Competition
1st Prize – Map makers by Mick Evans
2nd Prize – Mother Ireland by Barry Norris
3rd Prize – Road to Liberty by Danielle Hope
Winner: Mick Evans
4th Seasalt by Natalie Holborow
5th Deathday of a husband by Judith Drazin
6th View Finder by Philip Burton
7th Swan’s wing by Ross Cogan
8th Souvenir of Lowestoft by Peter Wallis
9th Dr Ahmed’s Ward Round by Karen Hoy
10th Conch by David J Costello
11th Last Day by Isobel Thrilling
12th Coney Beach Blues by N W McGaughey
13th Class Act by Roger Elkin
14th All the Brash Young Studs by Samuel Every-Baker
15th Buddug by Alex Keegan
16th Lingua by Gareth Writer-Davies
17th Vix Princess by Helen Williams
18th Red Light by Natalie Holborow
19th The Knocker-Upper by Penny Boxall
20th Green Testament by Pat Bellotti
Results were announced on our web site, Facebook Group and Twitter on Wednesday 8th July, 2015. We have also informed Literature Wales, Pontypridd Observer and associated district newspapers, SW Echo, the Western Mail, BBC Wales and RCTCBC as well as many organisations on our mailing list. Thanks to Sally Spedding for judging this years competition, and thanks also to all those who entered and look forward to reading your work next year.
This year (like the last few years) was an especially good one with many, many poems being in contention for the Top 20. And so, in keeping with our aim to reward / recognise as many poets as possible I’ve taken the liberty, this year, to include (below) the names of the poets who didn’t quite make the cut but so easily could have:
Sheila Barksdale, Paul Austin, Robert Cullen, Tanya Nightingale, Matilda Hobbes, Charles Evans, Benjamin Cusden, Mary Anne Spence, Noel Williams, Steve Krayer, Jean Hall, Davnet Heery, Jo Lowry, Gareth Davies, Rebecca Lowe, Des Mannay, Anthony Powers, Aoife Lyall, Steve Garside, Virginia Astley, Catherine Faulds, Rae Howells, Jenny Pollak, Sharon Black and Josie Turner.
Many of these names you will recognise from previous year’s winners of course and many will be new, proving once again, that the international Welsh Poetry Competition is one of the best of its kind in the world. A fair competition that discovers new talent often over-looked by the arts ‘business’ / establishment in Wales and the UK.
And remember, next year is our 10th anniversary!
It was an honour to have been invited for a second time to adjudicate this exciting and truly international poetry competition. A huge responsibility and challenge to identify those poems which had something to say – not necessarily in an obvious way – and which remained with me even in dreams. Poems, too, which weren’t simply chopped-up prose or meandered in what seemed like over-indulgence, but possessed an inner rhythm and motion. Main themes included death, the sea, birds, the stars, loss in all its forms, hospitals and Welsh history. The second person singular ‘you’, was also well-used.
The more adventurous poet also steered away from mere observation to spring a surprise, like the gardener who while digging, uncovers something precious. Final stanzas and last lines in particular, incrementally, helped the top three winners and seventeen Highly Commended entries to nudge their way towards the light.
Thank you, Dave Lewis, for organising this exceptional competition, and to all those brave poets who have contributed to its success.
Map Makers, by Mick Evans
The title says what’s in the tin, and from the intriguing opening two lines, introducing ancient Korea’s map makers, to an unexpected and poignant last stanza, this topical, ambitious poem has it all. Each image and observation speaks to us in our war-torn world – where Korea itself is now riven – showing another way.
Mick Evans could have presented a strident rant against where we have all failed, but instead, has worked harder to avoid the obvious and use instead, original metaphors and imagery, plus no punctuation and an often tense layout of…
or where on the road to the station
in black and white
here is a poster girl called Missing
stones on the mounds say
With each re-reading, I found something new, leading to…
all those who would make maps
first draft broad latitudes of peace
and remember in earth’s measure
above all great schemes
to praise all who practise simplicity
amongst the newspapers and the mail
I find a postcard from a long-lost friend
or on the doorstep
gifts of apples from a neighbour’s garden
This segueing from the general to the very personal, seems almost holy.
A remarkable achievement, and a convincing winner.
Mother Ireland, by Barry Norris
Although the Irish poet Eavan Boland has also used this title, it’s Barry Norris’s poem’s very first line that sets it apart…
My mother’s mind was a photo album…
I immediately sat up and took notice. This clever metaphor then took me on a journey of the narrator’s unnamed mother’s far-from-ordinary life of…
And Cork men, eye-caverned men,
Scar-carriers, with slicked-black hair.
There’s tremendous pace here, and not a word wasted. Every observation is vivid and real as the pages are turned through her history also as an immigrant, leaving no stone unturned, including…
…For her, Galway salmon
Were always leaping, every cathedral
Was Connemara marble, and the Eucharist
Turned to blood in your pocket.
Then after the sisters and the nuns, the pace slows once…
…a hard, fast cancer shook her into death.
This Catholic, Shannon-born exile, buried in an Essex grave beside a Norman C of E church, is finally…
Home leaver, home-maker, home-comer.
A well-deserved second prize winner.
Road to Liberty by Danielle Hope
A suitably ironic title, and although Danielle Hope’s haunting poem comprising five equal stanzas, is almost conversational in tone, the subject matter is deadly serious. It reveals a dark history behind this part of Normandy, which has seeped into the present in troubling ways. The narrator’s stark, intriguing image of what I realised was a stricken cow sets the scene.
Legs sprawled in a half kick, head arched back,
she sprawls on her right side in wild grass
beside the hill path…
This present is then seamlessly woven with the wartime past where humble labourers risked their lives to help the Resistance before the …
… landings at Utah, Gold and Juno.
Cemeteries raised in Brouay, Bény-sur-Mer, Bayeux.
The narrator also watches the farmer prune apple trees while …
the cow’s eye stares
and her pelt stays damp from morning dew.
Memory then shifts to another farmer – the narrator’s own – who actually cared for his cattle and even named them. Who felt…
…The darkness and shame if one died.
His Home Guard medal secreted in a sock drawer.
The final stanza begins with another visit next day, and a meeting with his polar opposite. This callous farmer who turns out to be female…
Her overalls scowling blue, her French precise.
As unease increases, the narrator leaves…
…these territories of unripe sleep
the cannon blasts hourly to scare the crows.
Memorable. A worthy third prize winner.
Sally Spedding, 2015
The winners of the second five years of our competitions can be found in our second anthology. Why not purchase a copy of ‘Ten Years On‘ available direct from us or from Amazon and other good book stores.
See also our links page for details of other poetry web sites in Wales and beyond.