Results of the Competition 2024

  Our judge Jenny Lewis placed seven poems in the highly commended category. These were

  • Double Exposure by Margot Myers
  • Forgiving You by Kristen Mears
  • The Grey Cat by Tony Bicât
  • Hope by Olivia Walwyn
  • He Challenged Me To Write a Villanelle by Shirley Ann Bunyan
  • Per ardua ex aspidistra by Emmaline O'Dowd
  • Sheeps by Lauren Colley

Third Prize

The third prize of £25 was awarded to Christian Donovan for 'There's more than one way to smile'. Christian writes: 

Christian Donovan lives in Pembrokeshire. She has recently retired from work as a guide at Carew Castle where, amongst other tours, she much enjoyed being their ghost tour leader. In the past she was a dairy farmer’s wife and a tutor of Welsh to adults.

She started writing poetry a long time ago but has only recently begun submitting to competitions and magazines. Her poem Recipe for salt-baked maidmer was published in the Ekphrastic Review, while Princess Nest, Royal Concubine and The Migration of Annie Webb appeared in a film-poem created as part of Narberth Museum’s Women of West Wales project.

there’s more than one way to smile

a wry smile beams mockery
a rye smile has seeds stuck between teeth
a high-five smile packs a punch
a hi-fi smile spins the turntable
an i-spy smile keeps dark secrets
an aye-aye smile salutes a pirate
a sly shy smile hides its scorn
a bone-dry smile belongs to a wit
a tie-dyed smile is well-knotted
a fly-by-night smile for the inner witch
a butterfly smile spreads its wings
a stir-fry smile dotes on bean-sprouts
an apple-pie smile is full of order
a thigh-length smile reaches the knee
a try-it-on smile bares its lust
a try-before-you-buy smile oozes temptation
a why-not? smile begs a reply
a glass-eyed smile studies the details
a wily smile rivals smiley wiles
a do-or-die smile skis off-piste
a magpie smile collects silver charms
a wireless smile has straight white teeth
a wifi smile is switched on and off
a wired smile is braced for landing
a weird smile for a selfie
we all do that

Second prize

The second prize of £50 was awarded to Vanessa Lampert for 'Jeff does Poetry'. Vanessa writes: 

Vanessa Lampert’s pamphlet ‘On Long Loan’ was published by Live Canon in 2020 and her first full collection ‘Say It With Me’ was published in 2023 by Seren. Almost half the poems from that collection have won prizes (five of them 1sts) or commendations including in the National Poetry Competition, and Forward Prizes. She is widely published, most recently in The Telegraph poem of the week, The London Magazine, Strix and Poetry Wales. Vanessa works as an acupuncturist in Wallingford. Vanessa's website is

Jeff Does Poetry

Jeff he wrote a poem, a cheery little Sonnet,
man with nasty sword, frightened woman in a bonnet.
Jeff was keen as mustard, Jeff was quite bang on it,
but because the feedback given was the arctic side of warm,
he chose to share the gift he had with a different poetic form.
Jeff he penned a poem, this time a Villanelle.
Something about religion. Cherub, church and hell.
Jeff looked at the guidelines. You couldn’t really tell.
Poetry it wept for weeks, its bloodied heart all torn.
Jeff? he simply ricocheted to another kind of form.
Jeff he did a toughie, rugby-tackled the Sestina
about a sexy man called Jeff and a model named Bettina,
Jeff longed to show his tutor. Nobody had seen her.
Jeff he was no loser, not a chap to get forlorn,
he simply skidded in on buttered feet to yet another form.
Jeff he wrote a poem, jotted down a ghazal.
Even knowing how to say it was an irksome little puzzle. 
Jeff threatened to share it and they put him in a muzzle
so he turned his hand to creating a massive Twitter Storm
and it was with resignation that they allowed him one more form.
Jeff whacked out a poem in what’s called Triadic Line,
after a pile of apple crumble and a pint or two of wine.
Someone at the back called out  ‘I’m glad that isn’t mine!’
Jeff had little tendency to wish he’d not been born.
He said ‘tomorrow is tomorrow with its shimmering virgin dawn’.

First prize

The first prize of £100 was awarded to Sally Spiers for 'Imposter Syndrome'. Sally writes:

Sally is a pandemic poet. She started writing during Covid, pouring emotions and frustrations onto the page to save her family’s ears. Reading and writing poetry has become a passion. Having taken opportunities to attend poetry events and readings, Sally has met and been inspired by some wonderful poets. She has also set up a regular, popular, poetry reading group.

Sally has had two poems published by the International Times. Her poem “The Knitter” was commended in the Brighton and Hove poetry competition 2023 and is now travelling round the area on a bus. Another poem “bonxies” was shortlisted in the Artemesia poetry competition and is due to be published in their 2024 anthology.

Imposter Syndrome

The art of fitting in is hard to master.
Make excuses every day, or you’ll be found
wanting - like this poem, an imposter.

Some days you flounder, breathing faster,
feeling out of depth and being drowned.
The art of fitting in is hard to master.

When your accent’s different, it's disaster.
Your treacherous tongue, when it can’t get around
fricatives and long vowels, screams imposter!

Then rally all the forces you can muster,
defend your curtain wall from coming down.
The art of fitting in is hard to master.

Other’s knowledge always seems much vaster
and everything you say is unprofound.
Work harder, or be seen as an imposter.

Acquire genius at bluff and bluster.
Copy (like this poem). Appear profound.
The art of fitting in’s not hard to master -
Some imposters simply learnt to posture.

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