Poetry Competition 2020 – The Winners

After being inundated with entries for our photography competition in May, we were excited to host our second competition with a focus on poetry. So far 2020 has been a strange and unsettling time that has presented challenges for us all, but one thing that has become clear is that human connection is more important than ever. Poetry is an incredibly powerful form of self-expression, that can bring us together by helping us to relate to and share in other people’s experiences.

We were overwhelmed by the volume and quality of the entries we received, and we had a hard time picking the winners. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part, and hope that you will enjoy reading through the winning entries just as much as we did!

You can also read other notable entries here.

Best poem about love and loss


By Kate Coley (Stratford upon Avon)

Swan. Solitary. Proud on silver pool.
The earth is cold and the sky is stone,
The frosted winter took her mate
Now she glides among the reeds alone.

She fluffs her snowy feathers out,
Holding her fragile head with grace
Yet in the river mirror sees
The rippling echoes of his face.

Snowdrops, bright crocus on riverbank
Behind slate clouds are shades of blue,
She turns again to sail upstream,
Knowing he would want her too.

Kate Coley

Best poem about unity

Make Peace not War

By Ann McElhatton (London)

Let there be peace with every step we take
Let us listen and be awake
To hear the truth within our heart
To be drawn together, not torn apart.

We need to learn to truly listen
To hear the birds, see the sun glisten,
To smell the sweet scent of dew on grass
And taste freedom that all this may last.

Awaken our senses and set us free
Unlimited our minds and hearts to be
Loving and caring to our fellow soul
Make peace not war, create a whole.

No need for greed and power to win
With deeper thought we can begin
To make the world a safer place
For all of us, every creed and race.

One step forward, two steps back
Slowly, slowly, don’t attack
There must be another way
Surely, we can save the day.

United in our ultimate goal
The world, you see, we want it whole
Not divided, side by side
Fathers, mothers, children, stand up with pride.

We are all the same you see
So get down on bended knee
Let’s pray for peace one and all
Let’s raise up our sights and we won’t fall.

Ann McElhatton

Best poem about survival


By Sue Morgan

When the walls are closing in
But there’s nothing to hammer your fists against
When you find yourself curled and paralysed
Holding up the ceiling with your shallow breath
Remember there is endless ocean
Breezes that flow across the stifled world
And eternal skies

Sue Morgan

Best poem about the pandemic

New Normal

By Debbie Emery-Dicks

I sit here and I contemplate,
While the blackbird sings at dawn.
A sweet song that never changes.
Unaffected by the ‘New Norm’.

I imagine what the future holds.
The turmoil surrounding me.
This time I hear the whisper of the trees.
Not daring to watch the TV!

While the news focuses on doom and gloom,
I sit here and pretend,
That almost four months haven’t passed us by.
That we’ll all be safe and well in the end.

The grass still grows, the wind still blows,
The sun still shines down from the sky.
The rain still continues to feed the earth, the birds continue to fly.

With this in mind I breathe, deep, and sigh,
And try to not think of what’s yet to come.
Children shouldn’t be held in a lockdown!
They should be able to laugh and have fun.
They’re entitled to their education.
Not staring down the barrel of a viral gun!

I apologise if I sound maudlin,
Or if I’m burying my head in the sand.
I’ve worked wood, I’ve sewn and grown.
But, I am also a realist and my mind sometimes gets out of hand.

Blessed be to the ill and the dying.
I sincerely hope you pull through!
My condolences to families who have lost loved ones.
Keep strong and look after you!

Well, I guess this is the ‘New Normal’.
I hope this all comes to pass.
Enough rumination from me now.
I must focus on my daily tasks.

Debbie Emery-Dicks

Best poem about animals and nature


By Julie Mayger (Worthing, West Sussex)

Lying in the grass, well under cover
Binoculars in one hand, bread in the other
I make tweeting noises into the air
To attract birds for me to compare
Against the chart in my hand
A beginner twitcher, you understand
Here is a herring gull, the first to pull
“Clear off”, I shout, “you’re in the way
I want to see some different birds today”
I throw some food all the same
And, of course, all his mates came
Damn it, I thought, now nothing else will come
Except all his friends, siblings and mum
But I was wrong, for close in tow
Were a magpie, two pigeons, a thrush and a crow
But these were not what I wanted to see
I craved more specialised company
Suddenly, I heard a tweet
From something that sounded sweet
I glimpsed a pink breast, white slashes on a wing
A brown back and then; what was this cute little thing?
Something pale green alighted near my book
But I daren’t turn the pages to take a look
Was one a chaffinch and the other a chiffchaff?
But it was all so confusing, and I was so naff
At identifying our feathered friends
But this is not where it ends
For I wanted to write down in words
How lucky we are to have such wonderful birds

Julie Mayger

Best poem about family


By Teresa Marsh (Suffolk)

You asked me “Where are we going?”
I smiled and told you again
You got out the car with your bag
But forgot your coat for the rain

I did up your coat as you struggled
I linked arms to keep you safe
You asked me again, your face puzzled
“What are we doing today?”

I found us a quieter café
And went to fetch milk for your tea
I turned around for a moment
And you were drinking my coffee

I laughed with you about it
Never mind, I said, “it’s OK”
Then you looked and asked again
“What are we doing today?”

We went to my home for a while
And I settled you down with a snack
As I went into my kitchen
You asked me “When are you taking me back?”

I look at your eyes and I wonder
How hard it must be for you
To remember the things in your life
That you are needing to do

I see that lady I know
And it hurts me beyond all compare
To see what dementia has taken
It just seems so bloody unfair.

untitled poem

Best poem about memories

Through the skylight window

By Clare Coffey (Barton Le Clay)

My childhood attic bedroom
With the skylight above the bed
I used to lie for hours
Watching the world above my head

I might wake to azure blue
And a glimpse of sunny rays
Promising games and picnics
With friends on summer days

Times of love and laughter
No time to stop and stare
When life was full of wonder
A child without a care

Clouds would chase each other
Some heralding fierce storms
Some wisps of white nothingness
Ideas that were barely formed

I reached out for understanding
To crystallise those thoughts
But like clouds they vanished
Before meaning could be caught

Sometimes I looked for hours
At the falling drops of rain
Rivulets of silver water
Pouring down the window pane

Echoes of my unshed tears
Over mistakes that I regret
A stark but clear reminder
Of a past I can’t forget

Fat flakes of winter snowfall
Softly landing on the roof
Enough to make a snowman
Oh the innocence of youth

A time before the heartache
A time before my pain
But even if I wait forever
I won’t know those days again

Long into the lonely night
I gazed at the crescent moon
Asking her to guard my dreams
And to make me happy soon

She kept all my dark secrets
The ones that shook my self belief
She never spoke a single one
She simply comforted my grief

The winds of change came blowing
Through the alleys of my mind
Sweeping my self doubt away
Not a shred got left behind

A process of transformation
That left me no place to hide
No quarter asked or given
It wouldn’t be an easy ride

My childhood attic bedroom
That’s where my thoughts are led
As I lie in contemplation
With peace inside my head

Clare Coffey

Best ‘feel good’ poem


By Claire Thomas (Harrietsham, Kent)

A diamond is
A lump of coal
That did well
Under pressure.

Does that mean
That one day soon
I’ll be a diamond?

Claire Thomas

Final thoughts…

Although we picked a shortlist of winners, we also wanted to acknowledge some of the other notable entries that we received. The quality of entries was superb to say the least and it gave us such pleasure reading them all. We’d strongly suggest you have a look at some of the other notable entries here.

The way that each person interprets poetry is very personal, but hopefully you were able to take something away from the poems above – whether that be a connection to the author, a strong emotion, or a desire to write some poetry of your own!

If you’re new to poetry, then you might find it useful to read our article, How to use poetry for mindfulness – which explores how you can use Haiku poetry to calm and quiet your mind, and gives tips on how to get started with writing. You might also consider joining our Haiku community, where you can share poems of your own, or simply enjoy poetry written by others.

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