The Poetry Kit






Results Poetry Kit Summer Competition, 2018

The winning poem
Bagpuss Makes a List of Complaints  by Jane Burn from  County Durham, UK


Boots by Louisa Goodman from Houston, TX.  USA

The other poems that made it to the shortlist are listed here and are highly commended.

Corfe Castle at sunset by Lesley Burt from Dorset, UK


Talking About Your Favourite Book by Maurice Devitt  from Dublin, Republic of Ireland


Marshall by Charnjit Gill from  Hayes, UK


The Woman You Never Tell, Anyone You Know by Sharmeka Victoria Hunter from Clairton PA, USA


Chromatic Cycle by Mike Jones from Wantage, UK


Apologies to Casabianca by John Lepine from Stockport, UK


A Beginners’ Guide to the Galaxy by Al Mcclimens


'To a Tortoise by Mandy Pannett from West Sussex, UK


Hats by Judith Wozniak from Fareham, UK



Selecting a winner from the entries in this year’s Summer Competition was difficult task. There were many excellent poems that even selecting a shortlist meant a lot of difficult decisions had to be made.  All of the shortlisted poets engaged the reader with a strong visual element, using images to illustrate strong detail in their poetry. 


The shortlisted poems were all fine pieces of work that had earned their place in the final selection. From the short list the winning poem and the runner up and commended poems were chosen and it was very difficult to decide the overall winner, but in the end it was memorable imagery and a unique approach that had made the difference.  After reading the poems the winner was the poem that stayed with me.   I was particularly taken by the humour and style which was engaging and memorable, but mostly it was the underlying metaphor  that captured the imagination.


Bagpuss Makes a List of Complaints  by Jane Burn

My Dearest Emily,
I feel I must write. Cloth jawed as I am,
my pen must do the talking. There’s got to be
something wrong with us when I only
come to life when you’re around – I am bound
by your whisperings, prisoner of your magical words
Every time you find some bit of old crap
on the street it’s all sweet talk, all wake up
and look at this thing that I bring!
What if I don’t want to be bright?
Who the hell told you I have the answer
to everything anyway? As if I’m some
giant pink oracle – I’m perfectly happy
dozing in my sepia world, but you keep
thrusting me into colour. Every time
I have a thought, there it is, large as life
inside a giant bubble – every private dream
revealed for the world to see. I can’t
keep anything to myself. Emily, it’s hard
to hear you call me Old Fat Furry Catpuss.
It’s why I don’t find the nerve to leave this shop,
why my world stays behind windows.
Come on – a shop that has no customers?
Who pays the rates? I worry about you and
your endless ‘finding’. Others might see it
as theft. You will laugh, I’m sure.
You are young and don’t know that life’s not always
going to be wicker baskets. So I let you hold me –
one day you’ll need this as much as I do now.
Wake up! For pity’s sake, wouldn’t you spend
most of your time asleep if you had to listen,
day in, day out to Professor Yaffle’s chat?
He’s a jobsworth. A know-it-all – his mind
is filled with fuss and splinters.
I am surrounded by mice I can’t eat.
Fat? No need to be so personal.
I’m just big boned. I ought to leave but I love
the way you care for broken things.



1st Place

Pamela Danforth Yaco - Siberian Slumber  


2nd Place

Noel King - Field


Highly Commended (in no particular order) Carolyn O'Connell - As we crossed Hungerford Bridge Jan Harris - Le Havre, 17 September 1944 Fay Roberts - Cellars Roddy Williams - post-newtonian theory Dorothy Baird - Mislaid Pauline Gould - The Executioner’s Assistant Ginna Wilkerson - Broken Gillian Penrose - From the Train Tony Peneff - Film Still Mandy Pannett - Fra Angelico tries to paint light Laura Purcell - Subjects Lesley Burt - Afternoon tea Ira Lightman – To the Bedside of the Cancerous Man Alison Whitelock - no one knows if the polar bears will eat again Stephen Beattie - Digging Up The Past Penny Drops - if i had pages just to write on Astrid Back - The Joy of Writing about Cooking Terry Jones - Ode to Swifts Jane Burn -  I remember when I sang M V Williams – Aldershot Afternoons 1958 



1st Place Poem

by   Pamela Danforth Yaco -San Luis Obispo, California


Siberian Slumber  


The solitary white bear and I

pad across lichen soaked plains

me for fish

he for seal


The pleasure of salted flesh we devour

stunned, fat, our backs numb

we lie on a pane of frozen earth

the black dome above us

sprays a lavender mane of light until our eyes fill


We slip, heavy, to a cave of teared ice, frosted, soft bracken, crunch white, to cover our face from the flame he with paw, me with fleece


Our backs curl

we breathe a cloud

then we turn away

as the bear and I must do

and dream of bed


Me of yours

with its ivory pillows

the silver spirals of your hair

our rounded whispers of content


He of block ice

stripping winds

the splash of blue.



Poetry Kit Poetry Competition, Summer 2017 Results
Reading the entries was a real pleasure. There were many with clever use of language and  strong images.
Winning Poem
According to Him by Terry Jones, from Carlisle
This is a well-chosen title that is more than just a name to identify the poem in setting the tone and the role of a kind of ‘third person’ narrator. The poem flows really well, tells us something of the kind of person the ‘him’ is, and contains some wonderful images; I especially loved: ‘coronas/of moth and midge’, ‘every fox almond-eyed and bushy, red as its myth’, and: ‘fussed full of trout’.
Highly Commended
From Manchester to Barra by Will Daunt, Ormskirk, Lancs
This poem was another I kept going back to. The image of pebbles in the first stanza tells so much in so few words, and follows through ‘rocks of family’ to the ‘stone’s throw’ of the final stanza. The language in places seems reminiscent of Dylan Thomas, perhaps especially in the second stanza. outstanding images; for example: ‘every fox almond-eyed and bushy, red as its myth’.
Commended Poems
From Barra to Vatersay by Will Daunt, Ormskirk, Lancs – this seems to be a companion piece to the highly commended poem, and is very evocative of life in a Hebridean landscape.
Mr Cox’s Monterey Pines by Dawn Bauling,  Beaworthy, Devon  Ronnie Goodyer
–  this poem gives a real sense of carpe diem: how artist, photographer and poet work to capture the immediate moment.
Another Memory of Her, by James Babbs, Stanford, Il, USA
where a title works so well throughout the reading of the poem,
In the wings by Adele Cordner, Magor, Monmouthshire
 for its evocative final stanza,
Soldiers for a New Millenium by Sharyl Heber,  Los Osos, CA   USA
which manipulates rhythm and language so well.
Other shortlisted poems
Hettie Gets Out by Janine Booth
Vogue Poetic Justice cut-up by Myrtle V
Procrastination by Susan Donaldson

Poetry Kit Spring Poetry Competition, 2017


The winning poem,

Hate, by  Julia Carlson, Cambridge, MA. USA


 The rest of the poems that made it to the shortlist are listed here in alphabetical order:


Auxi Fernandez in Morgan’s Bar: by Derek Sellen, Canterbury, UK

Incarnation – Paris Siege 1870-71 by Derek Sellen, Canterbury, UK

In Memory of Two Lives by Lisa Reily, Tacoma South, NSW, Australia

Memorial Service for Dame Cecily Saunders by Elizabeth Davies, London

Nostalgia  by Yasmin Roe, Coniston

Worth It by Alicia Fernández,  Leeds, West


Judges Report


The winning poem, Hate, succeeds in conveying complex emotions that are involved in compassion where circumstances make it difficult for the narrator to really help: a ‘heavy angry sad feeling’ is made explicit as is the ‘hate’ of the title, while the poem’s tone and content also convey gentleness and provide concrete contexts for the feelings. Form, tone and style make me think of the way O’Hara can turn everyday activity into a kind of meditation, linking the immediate with other events and environments. The movement between tenses works well in achieving this.


The rest of the poems that made it to the shortlist are listed here in alphabetical order:


Auxi Fernandez in Morgan’s Bar: the poem conveys a real sense of the dancer’s movement, and I especially liked the image of ‘face halved by light’.


Incarnation – Paris Siege 1870-71: this is an intriguing topic, which reminds me of that awful saying about ‘eating the elephant a spoonful at a time’; this section stood out:  ‘Two massive, wrinkled beasts/scoured by a thousand lines, as if their pencil etchings/had taken absurd mass.’


In Memory of Two Lives: the image of the ‘eye dangling and bloodied’ is startling and horribly memorable.


Memorial Service for Dame Cecily Saunders: I liked this tribute to one of the founders of palliative care and the hospice movement; the writer has neatly referred to  both beginning and ending in the opening line, and circled back to that at the end with ‘The ends are yours to love now’.


Nostalgia: this is a poem with a story to tell, leaving the reader to speculate, and leading into a satisfying last line: ‘The last little piece of you gone’.


Worth It: this poem takes an image of Dr Martens boots as a metaphor for developing ways to cope with the hard knocks of life. I liked the neat pun of the ending: ‘it is worth it/in the long run.’


Lesley Burt


HATE by Julia Carlson


Today I sat on a stone bench in Harvard Square

Eating an ice cream cone

I was waiting for the #1 bus

The sun was nice and warm on my face

Eight or nine sparrows watched me

I realized they were waiting to see if

I would throw them some crumbs.

They sat unmoving, silent, not a chirp

Tilting their heads from side to side

Watching me from an angle, as birds do.

I wondered if hungry people ever watched

Customers eating at a restaurant.

I remember reading a french poem about that -

Maybe by Jacques Prevert,

A boy presses his nose against the glass

And watches the man inside eating

His croissant and drinking coffee

The boy is so hungry, his stomach hurts

And he hasn’t a sou.  In the poem

The man doesn't come out of the cafe

And offer to buy him breakfast.

No he comes out of the cafe and yells at him

Get lost, you dirty kid!

Nothing for a grubby gamin running the streets

With scuffed knees and dirty fingernails.

I crumbled up the rest of the ice cream cone

To little bits & tossed them to the sparrows

Who flocked and grabbed greedily

For despite the warm sun, it was a cold day.

I do not hate those sparrows

Or that hungry, grubby kid in the poem

But I do hate the angry guy who chased him away.

I find myself hating quite a few people these days

Mostly people in our “new” government

Who have power not only over

Grubby boys and their sisters who are hungry tonight,

But over the sparrows too,

Who like bees, lizards, and turtles

Like lakes and streams

May one day disappear from the earth.

I never thought I would own hate,

But I do now and

I am not ashamed of it -

This heavy angry sad feeling

That weighs on me like a big stone

As heavy as a grubby boy

Or a small flock of sparrows.




Winner of the Poetry Kit Summer Competition 2016

Ion Corcos – Ithaca from a Ferry



Derek Sellen – From the Inventory of the Museum of Twentieth Century Things

Oz Hardwick – Rock-a-Bye

Bethany Climpson – solar systems

Angela Rigby – Lost

A.C. Clarke – Portrait of the Author at Ten

Stuart Nunn – Severn, night, tide rising

Roger Elkin – Rock End