Winners 2019

The winning entries from our 13th competition are below. Scroll down to view judges’ comments. To read the winning poems check out our anthologies page.

The 2019 Competition

1stPrize     The Map-Maker’s Tale – Damen O’Brien (Queensland, Australia)

2ndPrize   The Devil’s Shoes in Back Home Afro-Caribbean Shop – Pauline Plummer (North Shields, England)

3rdPrize    What are you owl – Rob Miles (Leeds, England)

Damen O'Brien

Our 2019 winner – Damen O’Brien


Highly Commended

4th        Bob Dylan waits for the Ferry at Aust – Deborah Harvey (Bristol, England)

5th        Making and Mending – Gill Learner (Reading, England)

6th        The Enchantment of Maps – Jean James (Swansea, Wales)

7th        Abandoned – Jackie Biggs (Newcastle Emlyn, Wales)

8th        Frost at Lighthouse Beach – Partridge Boswell (Vermont, USA)

9th        Marked – Trudi Petersen (Carmarthen, Wales)

10th      Speak – Gareth A Roberts (Newbury, England)

11th       Sestina – The Boxer – Alex Hancock (Dunvant, Wales)

12th      The Promise of Elsewhere – Louise G Cole (County Roscommon, Ireland)

13th      Ireland is Here – Noel King (County Kerry, Ireland)

14th      Dockers 1930 – David Butler (County Wicklow, Ireland)

15th      Waiting for Gold – Sheila Aldous (Teignharvey, England)

16th      Mermaids, and where to find them – Karen Hill (Ramsbottom, England)

17th      My mother’s heart – Phil Coleman (Pontardawe, Wales)

18th      The Archangel Dreams – Peter Wallis (Norwich, England)

19th      Ebb Tide, Morecombe Bay – M. Valentine Williams (Market Drayton, England)

20th      The Red Kite – Barry Norris (Swansea, Wales)


Results were announced on our web site, Facebook Group and Twitter on Monday 1st July, 2019.  We have also informed the UK national press, 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 Mike Jenkins for judging this years competition, and thanks also to all those who entered and look forward to reading your work next year.


Organiser comment:
Once again, 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 we’ve taken the liberty, this year, to include (below) the names of the poems & poets who Mike Jenkins singled out for praise but didn’t quite make the cut:

Special mentions:

Oh To Be In England – Emlyn Williams

Cymraeg – Rachel Carney

Arabia Felix – Virginia Griem

Simon Says Nothing – Angela Fish

Dont Swipe Her Like A Dish Cloth – Barry Norris

Superhero – Sally Festing

Pots Of Paint On The Roof – Brett Evans

100 Hours Of Darkness – Ashley Chan

Sister – Jan Westwood

These Feet – Vicky Hampton

Dachau Carpenter – John Baylis Post

In The Maternity Ward – Ann Leahly

Accordion – Pauline Plummer

Choughs At Llechwedd Slate Quarry – Sarah Lewis

Mapped Edge – Rob Cullen

Ermine Coats – Diana Sanders

In The High Street Charity Shop – Louise G Cole

Perfect Pitch – Christopher M James

How I Learned To Love Monsters – Gill Learner

Trefoil – Sharon Black

Brad From Joe Soaps Hand Car Wash – Roger Elkin

Cariad – Gareth A Roberts

On Newport Footbridge – Lawrence Illsley

Tragi-Colours Of Rajastan – Jeffrey Grenfell-Hill

She Tries Bless Her – Geraldine Hunt

Granny By The Sea – Judith Drazin

Flotsam – Phil Knight

Direction Of Breath – Bess Frimodig

Woken By Words – Lizzie Ballagher

The Gypsy – Dominique Hecq

Thrush Green – Sally Russell

Y Ddraig Goch – Rowan Kinnear (11 Yrs Old)



Judge’s Comments:

The Map-Makers Tale, by Damen O’Brien

The joy of judging a poetry competition is finding a poem which takes a totally different direction and approach to all the others and the winner’s exactly that. Not only is its narrative descriptively intense, but it creates in such a short space, a world you inhabit, albeit a frightening, dystopian one. Curiously, the imagery of maps was used effectively by three very good poets in this competition; but this one handles a grave topic with subtle imagination.

The Devil’s Shoes in Back Home Afro-Caribbean Shop, by Pauline Plummer

In contrast, the runner-up is single focussed, describing the shoes in the title and being led by them to a conclusion in the way that poems should best develop, following imagery and not ideas. These shoes take on characters, suggesting dance and celebration and, ultimately, dangerous allure. I love the way they sound so enticing and exciting, yet end with a sense of the hollowness of wealth and superficial attraction.

What are you owl, by Rob Miles

I was in a quandary regarding third place, but again the sheer power and empathy of this poem was hard to resist. While it owes something to Ted Hughes with ‘quill-swivelling / killer’, the awe throughout impressed. I especially love the ending, with its onomatopoeia of ‘You, you, you… or air.’

Mike Jenkins, 2019


See also our links page for details of poetry web sites in Wales and beyond.