Poetry ’23 Results

Judge’s Report – Cynthia Kitchen

Thank you for inviting me to judge your present poetry competition and I was very happy
to do so. It reminded me that I had been an adjudicator for Southport Poetry Competition in
2006 which seems a mighty long time ago.
It is always an honour and quite humbling that people are willing to expose so much of their
inner selves to a stranger, but for me, honoured and excited to see what lies within
a shortlist.
After an initial read I slowed to absorb words and phrases that took poems beyond the
surface and how effective this was in each case.I was looking for originality in ideas,
language, structure, use of metaphor, imagination, a poem that opens the mind or changes
how we see things, a poem prepared to take risks. Peggy Poole, the well known North West
poet said –
“I know a poem when I see it,”
and I feel at the least, a competition piece should be enough of a real poem to affect the
mind, spirit and heart of the reader.
There were many poems dealing with loss and sadness but there was uplift also. Some
poems had a structure that didn’t quite work or needed a definite form, an awkward line or
uneven rhythm and a poem should always be well presented on the page. Finally they were
read out loud which acts as a litmus test, the importance of how the words sound in
There were poems that nearly made the final sifting and it came down to their various
strengths and how they moved me, so many did.
Thank you to all who entered.


Gareth Culshaw

was drawn into this poem from first reading by the deceptive but beautiful language.
Each reading intrigued me more with its many layers. The blackbird/ morning imagery
made it mysterious and breathtaking:
“ a morning that pours out of a blackbird.”
“ I keep walking into the blackbird’s song.”
A journey of the spiritual, the actual and with strong emotional layering it felt like
love and death combined. I particularly liked how the last three lines didn’t try to explain
but if anything, added to the intrigue. A wonderful achievement.

No2  Water Muscles

Denise Bennet

This is a heartwarming poem with a modern yet timeless theme and an effective blend of
metaphor and literal interleaved. The water muscle/ resilience idea works well and is
very moving.The satisfying last stanza feels exactly right. I loved the warmth and caring

No3.  Night Bus

Doreen Hinchliffe

The poem invites us on a journey, cocoons us in the fug of the bus and draws the gaze out
from present to past and back again. There is evocative language :
“ the disused cinema is longing for the usherette’s torch,”
“a haze of breath hovers”
creating a sense of the real and surreal throughout. A use of sibilants adds to this.

HC. Industry and Genius

Patricia Leighton

A worthy poem with outstandingly strong lineation beautifully presented.



A strongly written poem with a clear message about climate change and a clever use
of language/ metaphor.

C.   The Girl Who Shares My Name

Doreen Hinchliffe

This poem drew me back to it many times and had an unsettling narrative and intriguing
build throughout to its climax.It uses good descriptive language, a strong sense of mystery.
and felt chilling in parts.


Alec Taylor

The Humour Prize is a Villenelle which concerned the great moment of meeting our
heroes or hero and spending time in their company, in this case our local poet Roger
McGough. What was impressive was the rhyming coupled with sustaining the humour
and managing to find full rhymes for “celebration “ throughout. Well done!

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