Winners 2015

The 2015 winners 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

Winners, 2015, Mick Evans

Winner: Mick Evans

Buy anthologies

Specially Commended:

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.

Organiser comment:

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!

Dave Lewis

Find Cheap Textbooks - Save on New & Used Textbooks at

Judges comments:

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.

Sally Spedding

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


only this

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

like mornings

when unexpectedly

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…

Kerry men

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.