Poetry Competition Winners

Primary Winner 1st Place

Wild Horses of Connemara By Esme Blue

From an island a-float,
this Ireland floats, too,
in my memories.
Land of horses, land of bogs,
wild mountains and
deep loughs.
Within this too-far-away land,
grey and chestnut, wild horses of
Connemara are inquisitive, playful,
curious, happily grazing, free spirits of the
purple-grey rugged moorland, with their rubbing of noses.
Behind this sketched coast,
a tight skin that could tear at any moment,
punctured by jagged rocks, or burst from within,
overcome by flood,
my thoughts of here, are here, take me back,
amidst the wild roaring winds and scintillating rains,
heavy as in my memories: hands across the sea,
this place -
is all greenness and buzzing alive and
I’m buzzing alive
with its bees, butterflies and birds.
Fuchsia and Greater Sea Spurrey flower
amidst ruins and bogs and arching sprays of Red Montbretia.
It’s crashing waves and all sea edges
all boiled down to one solid lump of happiness.

Primary Winner 2nd Place

My Perfect Place By Chloe Gunn

When I get close to my perfect place, I feel happy and excited.
I have bubbles in my tummy, like the bubbling pots I know are waiting for me.
As we drive up I see granny and grandad waiting for us, along with my doll sitting in the windowsill.
When we get inside the house, I feel so much love
We get so many hugs and the kitchen smells delicious.
I say, ‘What’s that lovely smell?’ and grandad says ‘Guess! We have been cooking all day!’
When I go into the kitchen I see bubbling pots on the hob,
With steam drifting up, wafting smells to my nose. Yum. Yum. Yum.
The biggest turkey we have ever seen is in the oven – roasty toasty.
More smells fill my nose. I open the fridge and gasp. Wow.
A huge trifle is right in front of me. It’s rainbow colours shine out.
It’s big enough to feed an elephant but there’s no elephant here, only us!
Granny and Grandad’s kitchen. Full of love. Full of food. My perfect place.

Primary Highly Commended

Things I liked about our planet By Esme Blue

The beauty of the wild world was
rainbows of birdsong,
pinks of roses,
redness of foxes,
the heartbeat of winds, 
the sharp shark teeth of waves in the seas,
long, wavy grasses around the mountains
all cooled and warmed by winds
as damp as soil or as dry as dead leaves
and every part was a piece of the same jigsaw.

The Cottage on the Water By Miles Moloney

My perfect place is filled with an empty space,
It feels like raindrops on your peaceful face,
In winter it pours day and night,
In spring you watch birds set flight,
In summer you see red squirrels run past your door,
In autumn you see red, orange and yellow scattered all over the floor.

My perfect place is soft and cosy,
Through my window I see racoons being very nosy,
When it is rainy it keeps me warm,
When I step outside, I see a great big storm,
In a tree I see a nice little sparrow,
As I go to dig out my old marrow.

Secondary Winner 1st Place

My Perfect Place By Sadie Larn

When did you become my perfect place?
Was it in Winter when my toes were blue,
After hours of rugs and mud and shoveling frozen poo,
Was it in Spring when all new flowers were blooming,
As dust was diffusing into the air from all the grooming,
Was it in Summer when the hose was in use all of the time,
Rinsing the sweat from the galloping horses, glistening in their
prime,
Was it in Autumn when I could hear crispy leaves being trod on,
After months of grazing the luscious grass was sodden,
I think you became my perfect place when I felt safe and free,
I felt like nothing could harm me, I was simply being me!

Secondary Winner 2nd Place

Ode to Stockport County By Charlie Jolley

We watch County play Newport in the needle rain,
team sheets scrunching in our hands like spat-out gum.
The players jog onto the pitch and the crowd chants
Edgeley, Edgeley as the referee blows his whistle, sharp
as a starling’s one shiny note. Mum passes round
glassy mints that make the gravy air taste cool
and sweet. It distracts us from the wind, its cold slap
turning our cheeks fiery red. On the pitch, legs tangle
into overgrown dandelions, the players’ shirts blue
as the energy drinks they’d gulped down with cider
an hour earlier. At half time, we warm ourselves
with mugs of Bovril, swirling our spoons into dark, salty
treacle. My brother pays 50p for a raffle ticket: Guess
the attendance, winner gets a bottle of Tesco’s Finest
and a Stockport County Calendar, only one year
out of date. I count the tiny teal specks that overflow
the stands like a money box spitting pennies. Dad
remembers when there was only naked seats, when
he and his mates would raid the pitches after hours,
slice across yellow-green grass in their work shoes
and make up songs that tumbled from their mouths
like supple pebbles in a stream. Ten minutes to go,
and we know Stockport have won. My dad worked at
County in his twenty-somethings, married to the club
his friends used to say, as he drove back
in midnight blue, me and my brother sound asleep
at home. After the match, we head to the Vita bar
to celebrate, lager tingling in our throats like icy breath,
my dad’s face a birthday candle – blushing, glowing,
twinkling, like he’d finally won a part of himself back.

Secondary Highly Commended

Football’s Masterpiece By Jamal Adewunmi

In the heart of cheers where fans unite,
Lies a pitch bathed in stadium light,
Where skies bear banners, colors so bold,
And chants of victory never grow old.

Oh, the perfect place, a field of dreams,
Where grassy plains host thrilling schemes,
Each blade a canvas for skillful feet,
Guiding souls to where triumphs meet.

Stadiums rise like temples grand,
Their roars resound across the land,
Crowds roar like thunder, passions high,
As heroes beneath the floodlights fly.

In this arena, time takes flight,
As drama unfolds under stadium light,
Bouncing balls and deft passes fly,
Through spaces where legends touch the sky.

The perfect place, where teamwork reigns,
On the green stage, in strategic lanes,
Where players converse in tactical play,
And victory’s song echoes night and day.

A sanctuary where dreams take flight,
Where passion burns and spirits ignite,
In the perfect place, where victory’s art,
Football’s magic thrives, a masterpiece of the heart.

All I Need is a Library By Mathilda Hopper

All I need is a library,
A road map to the real or the imaginary.
A portal to different nations,
All books are destinations.
The librarian is a tour guide,
Inspiration, she will provide.
The index she shows me,
To help me find the Serengeti.
The aisles form criss-crossing roads,
Lined with books: all safe abodes.
Scenic viewpoints I can discover:
Such lovely places to linger.
A mysterious map to hidden treasures;
A start to many adventures.
New escape routes will unravel,
To the past, present and future I can travel.
Down the canyons, rattles the trolley-tram,
Beware of the book traffic jam.
From my reverie, I shall be woken,
But this bond will never be broken.
My perfect place is a library:
A road map to the real or the imaginary,
A portal to different nations,
All books are destinations.

Gold Prize Winner

The Last Picnic by Jane Killingbeck

Praise the winding road, the grey square
metal Jowett. Praise its hum high into
a heather-clad moor. Praise the bracken
-backed grunting, the picnic packed.
Praise the way that though I grew,
The Cow and Calf rocks remained.

Praise the green space, a portal
waiting, like a distant cousin keen
to catch up. Praise the anthem Ilkley
Moor Baht’at. Praise the pink fired
purple painted land of
my childhood drawings.

Praise the instructions: Close the gate,
care for the livestock. Praise me, myself as
I hare through boggy clumps of grass
and sedge, push the wind. Praise the carved
rocks my climbing canopies. Praise
a mouthful of blown-rain that takes my breath.

Praise the short chip of the moorland
merlin that warns the mouse, a living trap.
Praise the tawny taste of high mist, its wet
warmth. Praise my mother’s eyes that hold
me. Praise me springing along the wall.
Praise giddy windmill arms waving.

Praise the howgills that bundle and blend
in the lee of the limestone. Praise how light
vibrates, virga clouds line the horizon.
Praise the stone track at my back,
midges that thicken the view on the bridge.
Praise the light catching the stone as water

slips over it endlessly. Praise the stream
above granite depths waiting to strip the skin.
Praise the habit that knows the upper river,
my feet on furry slabs, suggesting I slip.
Praise rocks shaped by sunlight, like a map
of my years, slabs of my dreams.

Praise my impatience, the teenage years
calling, a shifting narrative, a different
familiar. Praise this moment:
how I nuzzle the moor, breathe
its wild – the last for a long time.
Praise this end, it was a beginning

Silver Prize Winner

Cherries in the Snow By Amanda Walsh

Too young to read,
shut in the restless bed
under the dim candlewick’s frozen
furrows, I called to you, fret-breathed. ‘Rosa!’
With that sash at your waist the colour of bluebells,

from your wall
you’d smile, ignoring
the thrall of moonbeams.
And gossamer-frocked, we’d play our scene -
two urchins-by-numbers trying on fruit for jewels.

Outside, lampposts stared
at the wardrobe empty of furs,
at weather too cold for snow, though
one breath could still feather the window.
Stacked blankets pinned me with a satin-edged stroke,

wallpaper kittens fattened,
batting at ribbons, till the curtains
finally caught on and summer caught fire,
squandering its bedtime gold on the old lino
while I counted the ripe fruit in your bowl, wide awake.

Here, now, my feet
have crossed the vast reach
to the end of the bed but some nights I still lie,
picturing you. Just yesterday I found you on eBay,
the cheapness of your listing a shock, telling its own story.

I haven’t bought you yet.
I think I’d like to but I want to wait –
watching for the first star over the Humber,
waiting - for the first fleet breath of summer,
for Rosa, offering and still offering her bowl of cherries.

Bronze Prize Winner

Soft Rush by Emma Conally-Barklem

all the heart went out of this
the sky shelled river delta
beaded stoat slink through blanket bog
Gallinago gallinago wings softened in peat vowels wades
          beatific near soft rush
It could look bleak:
Medieval clearings crouched under wheatear
Heather cast in elderberry coat shrugs golden plover through its lining. The moss an
artery through dry stone walling.

If this is home, tell the Bronzemen who lay beneath worm-farm sediment of rusted
great skin
        evading the fingered sun.
Tell them this can be mine too, though I crossed sugarplain to get here,
    to shuck the oysterwords I read, teething on scree
    to worry the egg of a meadow pipit, brown hands rimed with lanolin.

It’s Yorkshire, foul & glorious
    Trade the snareship crowded with felt-shins
        My perfect place, the stream a crotal bell beyond chimney & shale.
    a bilberry smart
     lapwing’s trigger call
    curlew’s cry
    fern
    femur

Adults Highly Commended

Shakespeare’s Church, Stratford on Avon by Paul McDonald

Churches mean more to you than me.
You often pray when we visit them; I leave you
to it, stroll around their cruciform, photographing
stained glass. This one's like the rest at first -
a journey through a canopy of yews, crows sawing
air with scratchy-black beaks. The sanctuary knocker
is nothing very special: how many dozen
have we seen, faces pleading freedom from
a hell I don't believe in? No need to buy a guidebook
or a tour. I note the graves, the nave,
twenty six hand-carved misericords: they glare
across the choir, grumpy in the silence. You retreat
to a chapel - a quiet space for private prayer, your
perfect place; tourists seldom bother, but you sit alone,
head dipped, lips twitching almost imperceptibly.
Who knows what you whisper to yourself?
I walk the aisle with thoughts of him: spaces he
once knew, dreamt of, nights away on lonely
London palettes. Churches had meaning for
him too. His bones pray forever at this altar, and we’re
in a world that built itself around him, worshipping,
wondering: what sacred flame blazed within the Bard?
Did his own friends feel it, seconds in his presence
stretching to infinity? Imagine such a universe inside
a human head: the weight of it might crack the family pew.
Churches mean less to me usually, but now
I sense something too - the old walls hum,
dustmotes dance, percipient candles flicker and flare.
And I catch my own whisper, lips twitching almost
imperceptibly, moved by a man who isn't there. 

Poem in Praise of a Shabby Holiday Caravan By David Swann

I liked it best at dawn when rain drove in
off the ocean and battered its tinny roof,
loud enough to waken me, so that I lay
there in the applause, eager for the day
that would follow, when Cornwall was new again
under the sun – even that disused aerodrome,
whose derelict runways connected long alleys
of caravans, all shabby and brown,
and ours reeking of the cream that covered
the angry chickenpox of my siblings.
The toilet-block was so distant,
we’d to travel there in the car. Otherwise,
we sat around for hours as my brother and sister
wept over their sores, while our unmusical father
plinked away on a child’s guitar, abandoned
by previous sufferers of the same Blues:
strangers on a different holiday, in another life,
who’d maybe released the same miraculous bed
from its hiding place in the wall, and lain
where I was lying now, gazing out through streaky glass
upon our view of drenched hangars
and puddled turning-bays, with Calpol fumes
saturating the soft furnishings, and another string
breaking on a small guitar, and louder weeping
and harder rain. And nowhere to go, and nowhere
you needed to go, because you were safe. Safe.

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