We had a very entertaining evening on Wednesday as we invited our judge, Leanne Moden, and the shortlisted poets to join our web-meeting. Leanne gave a bit of background to her poeting (you can read all about her on her website) and recited a few of her own poems. Rather than try and capture everything we did and said about the 100+ entries to our competition on the theme of ‘Remote’, here’s Leanne’s Judge’s Report:

Leanne Moden

“I was really impressed by the high quality of writing for this competition. Most of the poems explored the theme in thoughtful and engaging ways, and many entries reflected on nature, the cosmos and our relationship with technology, while others explored the current global health crisis. I was pleased to see a variety of forms among the entries too, and I spotted several sestinas, villanelles and sonnets in amongst the submissions. I particularly enjoyed the poems that addressed the idea of remoteness in unusual or surprising ways, and I favoured the poems that moved me and stayed with me. Whether that was because they made me laugh, made me think or gave me chills, my top choices reflected that deeper connection between writer and reader. A huge thank you to everyone who submitted a poem to the competition, I loved reading them all!”

All shortlisted entries have been shared on a separate post for you to read. First of all…

Highly Commended entries

Ontario by Derek Hughes of Kibworth, Leics (and a former member of Newark Poetry Society who remembers some of Fosseway’s members from years ago):

I love the quiet, contemplative quality of this poem; the imagery is so sparsely described but so finely constructed that it feels like walking quietly through snow, hearing the calls of wild animals in the distance.


James’s Pembrokeshire Text by Roger Elkin, Biddulph Moor, Staffs:

The gentle humour, and relatability of this poem makes it stand out. But it’s the poem’s unique sense of character – its effortless shifting between the everyday conversations and the beauty of nature – that caught my attention.


Self-Isolating by Ann Cuthbert of Darlington:

This poem is a great example of using writing constraints to elevate your work. The poem explores the locked-in, constrained feeling of isolation, fusing tone, content and language together to make something that makes me feel deeply claustrophobic.” 


Power Lunch by Linda Cooper of Newark who wins the ‘Top Local Poet’ prize:

I really like the central metaphor in this poem, using remote controls to talk about the difficult subject of eating disorders. It’s an inventive take on the competition theme that explores what it means to be in control, out of control, and to feel controlled by an illness.


And now the top three…

Third Place

Satellite by Alex Hales of Brighton

I really love a poem that speaks in the voice of a unique character, and for me, this poem works because of its distinctive narrative voice. The comparison between personal feelings of remoteness and the remoteness of space really speak to me, and I like the fragmented nature of the writing, underlined by the poem’s frequent references to drugs and disconnection. It all builds up to form something really special.


Second Place

The One That Everybody Will Forget by David Smith of Ilkeston (who also has links to Newark having taught at The Grove School in Balderton) and who recited his poem in a pretty good American accent (although I’m not sure how close it comes to actually sounding like Michael Collins, the astronaut who didn’t land on the Moon).

I love the bubbling undercurrent of emotion in this poem: we’ve all been in situations where we’ve been overlooked or forgotten, despite our best efforts. But this poem also balances sharp imagery, matter-of-fact delivery and a highly original idea. The voice and characterisation of the poem are great, and the flares of humour add just the right amount of pathos too.


First Place

How To Grow An Orchid by Jenny Mitchell of London

This poem really took me by surprise – it’s a visceral, gut-punch of a piece, and that final line gave me goose bumps. The poem takes the theme of remoteness and turns it inwards, in a way that is striking, shocking and poignant, all at once. It has some beautiful, haunting imagery, but the thing that strikes me most is that, every time I read it, I find something different. I just can’t stop thinking about it, and that’s why I’ve chosen it as my favourite poem.


Thanks to all who entered, they were all of a very high standard and we’ll do it all again next year (although in the meantime consider entering our Flash Fiction competition that will be launched shortly).

One thought on “Poetry Competition Winners!

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