Winning Poems from 2011

Poetry Space Competition 2011 - Green Space

Poetry Space Competition 2011- Full Results

This year we invited poems on the theme of Green Space and we are thrilled with the results. We were privileged to have Rose Flint judging.

Read the top three poems below followed by a list of entries that were highly commended by our judge.


Like a bridegroom's shoes
swamped by confetti
or sugar paper lost
beneath a child's spilt glitter,
the water is hardly visible
between the glistering silver
bodies that rise and fall
on the narrowboat's bow wave.

The wake stretches behind,
a mourner's silk tie;
water mordant with black dye,
until the fish float back.
Morning sun flashes Morse off scales that shimmy and dance,
signalling our loss
with their grim brilliance.

© Derek Adams (Essex, UK)
   1st Place


a rising nearness, a beacon
its blueness a raggy topknot mix
of indigo, azure and violet
that humbles you to silence
as you stumble across its sudden fullness
signalling from wheat-field trespass

Consider its other names:
          Hurtsickle from its tough stems - 
          that angelicaed haze of greyey-green
          blunting the reaper's scythe

          Cyanus, its memento of the garland
          his namesake garnered as a lad
          to frame his love for Flora

Remember these
and recall this flower
the single bloom to grow in Nagasaki's aftermath
                                          Hiroshima's wreath
talisman of hurt, of youth, of hope

© Roger Elkin (Staffordshire, UK)
    2nd Place

San Story

Somehow the photo of them
came out black and white.
Their village was moved
three days' walk
from this ancient ground,
but five young men stayed
to share with tourists
their skills, mode of living
and sense of humour - 
snapshots of a dwindled life
exploiting the Kalahari's meagre resources.

We follow in their bare footsteps,
behind soft wraps of kudu skin
and slant sticks,
as they indicate plants for healing,
insects delicious to eat,
take turns to enact stories
with vivid gestures,
San words tumbling out
punctuated by rapid clicks of the tongue.

The star performer plays a hunter
who kills an ant-eater,
then cuts open its stomach,
returning the live ants within,
to the ant-hill.

And as the men leave,
their lively colours
fade to black and white.

© Margaret Eddershaw (Greece)
3rd Place

The following poems were highly commended:
GM Fields -  Angela Platt (Newport, Wales)
Fox - Fiona Melrose (Suffolk)
Bumble-bee - Martin Bates (East Lothian))
Inverbeg Chapel - Dorothy Baird (Edinburgh))
The Welcome Dark - Dorothy Baird
Thorpe Malsor: winter allotments - Damian Gardner (Kettering)
The Gentry Weed: Rhododendrums - Roger Elkin
In the Cloister Garden - Gill McEvoy (Chester)
On Porpoise Margaret Eddershaw (Greece)
Tree on the Drostdy Lawns - Harry Owen (South Africa)

Prizes are on their way to all the above, with our top three poets winning £60, £30 and £15 respectively along with free copies of our forthcoming anthology. All those highly commended will receive a pack of five limited edition cards featuring verses by Azadeh K Taj and beautiful flower photographs by Courtney Louise Howson. The cards are hand finished by my sister, talented card maker Marilyn Benson.

Judge's Report

I read the entries for the ‘Green Space’ poetry competition with great pleasure. We had asked for poems that were environmentally themed, giving attention to ‘nature, growth and organic living’ and I happily immersed myself in poems that sang, mourned, and celebrated many aspects of the natural world. There were fewer poems engaging in the big themes of climate change and extinction than I had expected, instead, most poets stayed within their own communities of garden or locality.
A few poems touched on the other species who share our lives within our green spaces– the birds, animals, fish and insects that create such joy in our midst, but most writers concentrated on landscapes, from forest to backyard. A deep care and concern for Earth came through very strongly in poem after poem. Writing about the things which touch us most, can often lead us into forgoing some of the craft of the poet in our desire to explain a point of view, tell a story, give information or simply express emotion, but the poems which I chose as prize-winners and highly commended, all used their skill as the vehicle for their expression – rather than simply putting the expression into poetic form. And all of them offered the reader another idea beyond description, inviting the reader to engage thoughtfully with the poem. These were well-crafted poems that created something newly-minted for the reader to draw in, a resonance that could continue well past a first reading. 

In first place Styx is a beautifully layered poem, which uses careful and original language to share experience. The simple gentle innocence of the first images – confetti/sugar paper/glitter   work strongly against the darkness of the second verse –mourners/mordant/Morse…that first verse, suggesting something casual, unaware of the consequences so movingly described later. Using the word Morse leaves us to supply what that Morse message might be – and immediately we think of Save Our Souls...This poem allows us to be active, to work at the image and the codes of the metaphors, to be thoroughly engaged. The last line too shakes us, because we can empathise with its uneasy contradiction.

Cornflower, in second place, does impart a lot of information and learning. Yet it does so with great delicacy, leading us skilfully to shocking revelation which opens out the poem to a kind of meditation. Here, somehow the spiritual and material context of the colour blue itself  (blue planet/Virgin’s robe) is implied.

In San Story, third prize, the poem wins through by not over-telling the story. Here is a poem which is deeply poignant and heartfelt but which is controlled enough to use one simple metaphor to express whole world. 

Rose Flint - August 2011