2020 Poetry Results

To read the winning poems, go HERE

Organiser’s Report

It is always a crying shame when entrants do not do the two absolutely fundamental things one must do when entering a writing competition (apart from putting pen to paper):

Follow the rules.

Proof read thoroughly.

There were… a few this year. That said, there were many people who did do those two things and produced excellent work to boot. It was very difficult to pare down the shortlist, with many outstanding entries from worldwide locales, as well as a good selection from the UK and even a handful from Southport itself! The theme this year was ‘City Life’ and entrants took that topic in all kinds of interesting directions, with poems about birds, invading wildlife and other, sadder issues such as what ills might be transpiring behind closed doors which led to some powerful work.

We thank all those who entered and look forward to your future entries and welcome your thoughts on the winners.

Judge’s Report

Tough. That one word describes every aspect of the task of judging this competition, with every nuance it contains. The shortlist included poems about violence, about loneliness and about loss. They also included lighter themes such as the magic of the silver screen and the eccentricity of having a good brew. All had some aspect of the life in the city, whatsoever that happened to be, and it was enlivening to engage vicariously in the little windows of other people’s experiences. With such a high standard of entries the final call had to be partly made on merit, partly on personal preference, as it was especially hard to separate the winners from the other deserving work in the sift.

Humour –

Mothball Express – Tony Oswick

Few people want to get old, but if it ever happens one could do worse than be a bit like the bus clogging, ticket snatching, yakkety-yakking geriatrics featured in this amusing observation from the point of view of the driver. The image of the old folks competing over benches conjures thoughts of squabbling seagulls and overall this well-described poem has excellent economy of language. It could have gone on for longer, following the adventures in town, but wisely does not, focusing on the short scene well.

1st –

Oldies – Alex Hand

This poem, while also about the elderly, draws instead on the intimacies of an obviously long-standing relationship, painting a picture of a couple who have gone through their adult years learning to understand the important things, like still holding hands and having activities in common. It is a tender portrait, using details that the poet found a certain commonality in; full of comfortable silence and affection. It is also a well structured poem with the right beats and gentle expectations, challenging the reader to look differently at their elders, because they clearly are doing something right. The poem does such a fine job that you want to meet the pair featured in it, to listen to their life experiences. Perhaps that is the mark of a good poem; that you forget you are reading it and instead dwell on what it could still show you.

2nd –

The Pearls and the Paste – Linda Ford

Short, to the point and inspired by a photograph of a turn of the century Spanish actress stood on a  balcony much later in her lifetime. The poem, as it stands, is a poignant description, carefully chosen words evoke a sense of grubbiness in what should be glitzy surroundings, echoing the life of its subject. It is a fragment of a what-could-be story, a reminder of the tragedy of looking past the glamour and still finding beauty in something like pigeons coming to eat seeds. Nicely handled.

3rd –

Ballad – Michael Newman

This piece flows through what seems to be an industrial cityscape, taking in the rain, the factories and the lack of sunshine, letting us glimpse the stunning countryside that lies beyond before forcing us to go back to work in the dreary employment once more. It is a threatening piece, full of ill-will and cruel ambition, but at the same time contains enough hope to qualify for an escape from the hardship it depicts. The writer has an almost train of thought method of construction, but this lends itself to the sprawling nature of its subject, the clanking of the factory echoed in the unforgiving rhythms of the lines.

Highly Commended –

White Tea Cups – Steve Singleton

A staple of city life – the cafe, in which the teacups pass observation upon the denizens that choose to enter the threshold. There are signs of good construction here with the matching opening and close, but the perspective wobbles and the rhythm does not seem to be consistent. There are some strong images and archetypes shown (penniless writers is right!) and the overall scene setting has strong merit. Unfortunately it feels like some of the cup’s judgment is missing, some element of their observation withheld, leaving the reader to guess too much. Otherwise a very interesting piece.

Commended –

Siren in a Night Street – Christopher M James

The Forgotten People – Sue Gerrard

To read the winning poems, go HERE

Southport Writers' Circle