Results of the Competition 2023

 Our judge Alice Willington placed three poems in the highly commended category. These were

  • Sharing an Apple with a Horse by Benjamin Brake
  • Arguemend by Sara Griffiths
  • Apparently by Jean Taylor

Third Prize

The third prize of £25 was awarded to Gabriel Griffin for 'Aerodonetics for Beginners'. Gabriel writes: 

Gabriel Griffin poet and writer, the only permanent lay inhabitant alongside an enclosed nunnery on a small Italian island, is founder (2001) and organiser of Poetry on the Lake events on Lake Orta. Guests have included Al Alvarez, Anne Stevenson, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Brian Patten, and D M Thomas. Her poems are widely prized and published in journals & anthologies: Temenos Academy Review, Orbis, Scintilla Journal, Private Photo Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Art Ascent, Empty Nests (Picador) translated, placed on buses and in an airport.

She is the organiser of which arranges poetry competitions, and some of her work can be found at

Aerodonetics for Beginners

Flight! The mere thought takes wing! The sheer delight, the cleaving 
of the air, shedding shadow, burdens, body weight, despair! As in rare dreams 
like bird, like angel, rise, over-coming mortal limits, challenging the skies!

Let me try! I will fly from the roof of the world, an eagle, a swift! Such a gift 
should never have been confined to birds and bees and bats – and, now I 
come to think of it, pterodactyls – (what on earth rhymes with pterodactyls?)

I rush up to the attic and squeeze half myself through the skylight (not easy 
at all). I must say it gives me a bit of a fright to think that over the edge 
of a sea of tiles slippery with rain there’s a fair drop – would I flop, 

screaming in vain to stop, straight down to the battering ground? My mind 
heaps a mound with on top a stone cross, my name incised. Prospects look 
grey. I slam down the skylight and decide to call it a day.

Hang-gliding! Just grab the frame and jump from a height. Sounds all right…
The crags, the mountains, the views, the crows cawing over wide ravines! 
But – hump an Eiffel tower in trellised glory from peak to peak – then jump?

Desires pale – I bet I’d end up gory! Find another solution─
parasailing! You need a long stretch of water (preferably sans pollution), 
a river, a lake – hold on, for God’s sake, despite your belief you’ll 

soon come to grief! You know your arms will shortly be pulled 
from their sockets – the relief when you at last let go and 
the greatest harm is to your pocket!

No, those ways aren’t for me! I prefer less risky rites, a bit of a flit, say, 
on owled and moonlit nights. So, like sage wives, I blend the age-old unguent: 
datura and mandrake, just as my granny taught me. And in the wake

of wiser women scrying, when the moon is rising high behind the high-rise gloom, sharp eyes may make me out ecstatic on my broom, soaring over the limits 
imposed by rational man, harmonising God and Devil – as only woman can!

Second prize

The second prize of £50 was awarded to Jan Bailey for 'Soulmates'. Jan writes: 

I have never entered a poem in a competition before.  In fact, I have never actually done anything with my poems except put them in a file and re-read them every so often, always finding something that needed tweaking.  The only people who have seen any of my poems are four or five close friends - and it is entirely due to their generous and unstinting encouragement that I find myself in this spectacularly unlikely but deeply appreciated position. 

For as long as I can remember rhymes, rhythms and words have fallen into my head, demanding to be made into poems - and I am powerless to resist.  Style-wise I am instinctively drawn to traditional forms - I love the discipline imposed by their tight rhyme schemes and clear rhythms.  But I couldn’t imagine why anyone else would be interested in anything I have written.  So for nearly sixty years I have kept quiet … until now.

Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  I have fought it with a combination of pig-headedness and medication but inevitably it is now having a very limiting effect on my life.  However, with increasing decrepitude comes a very liberating gung-ho attitude.  Despite writing and typing becoming more and more difficult, creating poems is a welcome escape from my growing isolation.


I’ve never been partial to Shakespeare;
In truth his plays fill me with dread;
Hours of appalling soliloquy from chaps
Who are clearly not right in the head.

Macbeth’s delusional, barmy and hen-pecked.
And Hamlet’s just awfully dim;
Lear’s lost his marbles; Prospero’s nuts
And Portia’s insufferably prim.

The Richards! The endless King Henrys!
I’ve lost count of their parts. Three? Five?  Ten?
I don’t give a fig if their chums won’t wake up
Or their horses go AWOL again.

People tell me that Shakespeare’s a genius-
There’s no poetry or prose so sublime.
But after enduring five acts of this stuff
How I long for a quick, pithy rhyme.

So last night I was far from delighted 
At the prospect of  having to spend 
Another three hours with numb buttocks  
Watching Hamlet go clean round the bend. 

Then in  Act One I saw you were sleeping.
My heart leapt! And I knew you were mine
When you woke with a snort shouting ‘Which one’s Macbeth?’
You’re my soulmate - a true Philistine .

PS If you’re trying to impress me
This depressing stuff won’t get you far
The food of love isn’t Shakespeare - it’s chocolate
I’ll be yours for a fruit and nut bar.

First prize

The first prize of £100 was awarded to Melissa Lawrence for 'Meet Me In The Chippy'. Melissa writes:

Melissa Lawrence is an artist, designer, crafter and writer. As a former freelance journalist as well as a writer, her articles and short stories have been published in a variety of national newspapers and magazines including The Guardian and The Times. She has also had many poems published in small press magazines including Iota, The New Writer and Obsessed With Pipework, as well as anthologies from Oxford University Press and MacMillan.   

Recently, Melissa has been working on a non-fiction book based on some old letters she found in a wardrobe and which have strong links to the popular television drama Downton Abbey and the discovery of Tutankhamun.

While taking a break from her book, Melissa decided to start entering writing competitions again and was delighted to win First Prize in the Charm Poetry Competition with only her second competition entry in seven years!

Meet Me In The Chippy

(after John Clare)

Love, meet me in the chippy, 
Beside the mushy peas, 
Where the floor is always slippy 
And I’ve often skinned my knees. 
Meet me in the chippy.
Meet me at half-past four 
Down in the chippy, 
Where we’ve met before. 
I’ll be wearing my best lippy, 
Meet me in the chippy. 

Meet me in the chippy, 
By the sea salt shaker there; 
Where the girl that serves is dippy, 
But her portions are quite fair. 
Meet me in the chippy. 

Meet me by the deep fat fryer,
In the oily smelling air;
Where your face glows like a fire
My love, I’ll see you there.
Meet me in the chippy.

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