Short Poem Competition

1st Prize: Gabriel Griffin


After the sculpture ‘Hermes and the Infant Dionysus’
By Praxiteles, (4th C .BC), Museum of Olympia.

Olympia, West Ken. He comes winged,
a young man, tall and strong and blond
in orange overalls; the opal skin, the marbled ease
of Hermes resting with the child
on his journey to the nymphs.
My son bloodless, cradled, rocked
in orange arms. Wine’s stink.

Then sirens, dense woods of traffic parting,
my praying for his wings.

At last, the blessed, crowding nymphs.


2nd Prize: Barbara Hickson

From the Rocks at Staffa

as if this weren't enough
          basalt pillars rearing from the sea
                  a sliding sun spreading jigsaw light on the ocean's current

I can see through marbled depths to the intimate quiet of stones
          and dreaming lion's mane jellyfish in diaphanous dresses
                  pulsing gently

propelled by rust-coloured underskirts
          fine ribbons trailing
                  suspended       light-filled

composed of almost nothing 



3rd Prize: Will Atkins

Redmire Falls (North Yorkshire)

‘Waterfall’ sounds too soft, too southern,
Some trivial riffle, trickling through the dell;
‘Force’ says it better, says it all –
A tea-stained torrent, boiling off the fell.
Hard Water; mesmeric, treacling, foaming,
Head like Theakston’s Old Peculier,
Sweeping all away – save for a few
Brave salmon, rising up and leaping
Like wild hopes, counter to the currents
Throwing reflexive curves against the spray.


Comments from the judge, Michael Symmons Roberts


This one offers such a rich portrait, more than filling the tight frame it sets itself. Playful, exuberant and - like all the best short poems - fully realised in its ten lines. It was in my top few ‘short poem’ entries from the first time I read it.

From the Rocks at Staffa

I was very struck by the measured, sculpted structure of this poem at the beginning, and the way it shivers by the end into those beautifully described jellyfish ‘composed of almost nothing.’

Redmire Falls

A poem of northern pride built on the word ‘Force’ and the ‘tea-stained torrent’ it evokes. Tea and Theakston’s, salmon and ‘hard water’ – ten lines of pure Yorkshire.

Highly Commended

Portrait of My Father as a Coracle by Ama Bolton
The Big Freeze and My Father by John Prior
Some of the Things I found after my Father had Died by Neil Ferguson
Inhabited by Louise Greig