This competition was organized by the Garvald Website Team in support of National Poetry Day, 2nd October 2014. We had a fantastic response with nearly a hundred entries! The theme, as for National Poetry Day, was ‘Remember’. The poems were sent as anonymous entries for judging and this year we were delighted to have Edinburgh-based Poet and Writer Mario Relich as our expert judge. Mario is Secretary of the Poetry Association of Scotland and an executive committee member of Scottish PEN, which works to ensure worldwide freedom to read and write.
Mario very much enjoyed reading all ninety-eight of the poems and commented that “the children have done their very best to come up with good poems, so much so that I felt obliged to single out a number of runners-up as well as choosing the prize-winners. Family life, family deaths, holidays, pets, and the Great War were among the most prominent themes. The poems testify to pretty stable family relationships and some are quite sophisticated in their understanding of the theme of ‘Remember’.”
We thank Mario for taking the time to judge the poems and our congratulations go to the winners. All winning entries have been published here (see below) and on the Scottish Poetry Library blog for teachers. We are grateful to Georgi Gill, Learning Manager at the SPL, for her support and for arranging some lovely prize books, postcards, badges and bookmarks. We would also like to thank Garvald and Morham Community Council for their support in providing funds for book token prizes and printing of the competition poem books.
Category: 7-8 years
Winner: Heather Wheelan (The Autumn Leaves)
Second: Annabelle Murray (Remember)
Third: Isla Irvine (I Remember)
“The Autumn Leaves is a perennial poetic theme handled very well. I like the simile at the end. There is depth of feeling, and a very good way with words, which makes the poem stand out from the rest in this group.”
“Remember was very touching, as well as skilfully written. I have never owned a pet, so I think I can be objective about this kind of poem. It is also very clear and precise about important moments.”
“At first the poem I Remember seems very ordinary, but the final line clinches it. It suggests that the ‘here and now’ might be more important than ‘looking back’.”
He also singled out Remember by Olivia Urquhart-McKendry as a Runner-up; “a simple, but thoughtfully crafted poem. The poet’s relationship to the puppy is very well conveyed, and the third line ‘And her fur was as soft as silk’ appeals to the sense of touch.”
Category: 9-10 Years
Winner: Katya Eardley (The Remembering Garden)
Second: Reuben Phoenix-Hill (Remember A Long Time Ago)
Third: Josh Nevill (When I Got Upset Writing A Poem)
“The Remembering Garden is another perennial poetic theme handled very well. The hint of déjà vu adds poignancy. The implicit contrast between ‘oak’ and ‘mouse’ is also notable.”
“In Remember A Long Time Ago, historical time-travel is handled very well, together with sharp observation: ‘They don’t care how much gold they pay’. I also liked the way the stanzas move backward in time.”
“I regard When I Got Upset Writing a Poem as one of the cleverest poems of the ninety-eight entries. It’s a case of ‘having your cake and eating it’, and doing so with cheeky bravado.”
Runners up for the 9-10 years category include:
Road Kill by Ella Walford which “deals with a heart-breaking, distressing subject. Honesty of feeling marks it as one of the best poems.”
When I Was A Kitten by Grace Dunkerley “is the kind of poem that Ted Hughes might have written at age ten, and I mean that as high praise. The poet projects themselves into an animal with shamanistic ease.”
The Good Times by Anna Meikle “is a very remarkable poem which again echoes perennial themes, this time about how time passes away quickly. For such a young poet, the author has a sophisticated grasp of such a theme. My guess is that this poet is unusually well read.”
I Remember by Jamie Macphail “displays a considerable sense of rhythm, and it’s highly imaginative in a quirky way, and in its unusual vocabulary avoiding any kind of staid poetic diction.”
Category: 11-12 Years
Winner: Victor Strang Steele (Remember, My Son)
Second: Eloise MacIver (Remembering The Great War)
Third: Guy Brooks (Remember)
“Remember, My Son is splendidly Kiplingesque and the simile of the ruby is very striking, indeed beautiful. It’s one of the most accomplished poems of the ninety-eight entries.”
“Concise vignettes of the soldier’s lot in WWI grace each stanza of Remembering the Great War. The last line seems too long at first, but it effectively sums up the pervasive fear each soldier must have felt. Putting on the voice of a soldier, and his sense of longing, are very well done.”
“Remember is very vivid and psychologically convincing. It could be described as ‘heart-stopping fear recollected in tranquillity’.”
Runners up for the 11-12 years category include:
The Death Of My Rabbit by James Stuart. “It’s a poem which ruthlessly maintains its unflinching pace.”
Memories Of My Life by Tristan Swan shows “dramatic storytelling which is very well-handled. The trajectory of ‘looking back’ is done in a very effective way.”
In The Great War by Isaac Ingram “complex aspects of WWI are handled with impressive conciseness. ‘Scythe held high’ is a great image.”
Remember Christmas And New Year by Tilly Bellamy “is not a very complicated poem, but it captures vividly the spirit of a traditional Christmas. I like the ‘wall/toll’ half-rhyme.”
Age Group 7-8 Years
First Prize – Heather Wheelan, age 8
The Autumn Leaves
When it’s autumn it gets colder
And the leaves will fall off trees.
It is amazing with blazing leaves.
The animals are getting ready for their hibernating.
It will be cold and in the winter there was a storm with lots of vibrating.
People stomping on the leaves,
Sounds like animals crunching food.
Second Prize – Annabelle Murray, age 7
When I went off the plane from England
Back to Scotland it was a week till my birthday.
Mummy said there was an early birthday
So we got down the stairs and rushed in to the airport.
Then we got into the car
We drove to a house
Had never been there before so I knocked on the door.
And suddenly a Sprocker dog jumped out at me.
“Whose dog is this?” I said
“Yours!” she said
So I squeezed her tight then let go.
Then I cuddled my new dog his name was Ty
So we popped him in the car and took him home.
Third Prize – Isla Irvine, age 8
Remember the first time I rode my bike
Remember my first holiday
I like to remember all my memories every day
Some are good and some are bad
Remember my first day at nursery
Remember my first Christmas
Remember the good things in life
But I will never forget today
Age Group 8-10 years
First Prize – Katya Eardley, age 10
The Remembering Garden
I walked through the towering gate,
I saw the enormous oak.
Somehow I knew I had been there before
I felt so odd.
Walking around the empty garden,
Knowing all the trees
I felt so happy yet so sad
In the remembering garden.
I took a shaky step towards the oak
Remembering being here long ago
I was as curious as a mouse
I could not stop wondering
I soon was sure I really had been here before
So long ago
It was so quiet
In the remembering garden.
Second Prize – Reuben Phoenix-Hill, age 10
Remember A Long Time Ago
I remember all those years,
With modern computers and phones at our ear
People driving in the street,
With other people to meet.
Soldiers remember 100 years ago,
When they fought with gun blows.
People lying dead on the battlefield,
Other people with guns they wield.
Knights remember 500 years ago,
On horseback they would go.
Kings and queens have a banquet every day,
They don’t care how much gold they pay.
Romans remember 2,500 years ago,
As the northern wind blows,
Gladiators would fight,
All through the night.
Cave people remember 10,000 years ago,
As the fire would glow.
They would hunt for meat,
And they would eat.
These people lived a long time ago,
From 1914 to 10,000 BC, I know,
That’s a long time ago.
Third Prize – Josh Nevill, age 10
When I Got Upset Writing A Poem
We are told to write a poem on something we remember.
I cannot think of anything.
I say, “I can’t remember anything from when I was young.”
I ask if we can make something up,
The teacher says,
I feel so angry at myself, and at him.
Tears start to well up in my eyes,
I stare at the blank page,
I really want to rip it up.
I hide my face behind my hands.
I feel so annoyed with myself,
I wish I could run out the room.
Tears drip onto the desk.
Finally I say, “I can’t think of a subject.”
I take my hand away so everyone can see my embarrassment.
I remember the time a teacher asked me to write a poem.
Age Group 11-12 years
First Prize – Victor Strang Steele, age 11
Remember, My Son
Remember, my son, that day we had so much fun.
When the sun was shining down.
Remember, my son, the cold chill and thrill of the water
Glistening like the moon.
Remember, my son, that day at the cinema
When you were laughing your head off.
Remember, my son, the glorious flavour of
A sugary sweet melting on your tongue.
Remember, my son, on Christmas Eve
The warm glow of the fire like a ruby.
Remember my son the soft, jolly
Christmas music drifting through the air.
But remember this the most, my son:
Live life to the full
Because every sixty seconds you spend upset
Is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back.
Second Prize – Eloise MacIver, age 11
Remembering The Great War
Signing up for the war
Boats across the channel sea
Germans being shot down
Well, rather them than me.
Peering over the trench
Lice in all our clothes
Making friends and losing them
I still remember all those.
Eating wretched food
So cold and so wet
But on the bright-side,
I’m not dead yet.
Football at Christmas
Setting messenger pigeons free
Poppies in the field
Barbed wire is all I see.
Missing home so badly
And not knowing who’s dead
But I still wish I was there
Because there’s no bullet aimed at your head
Third Prize – Guy Brooks, age 11
I remember that flight
The crack of lightning
My hands shaking
With the spluttering of the engine
My fear of the dark as the lights flicker
I could hear the breathing as we dropped
The lightning cutting through the thick grey cloud
I remember the metallic announcement
We broke through the cloud
My heart jumped as I saw land
As the shaking finally stopped in my hands
I remember that feeling
As all my worries lifted
When we touched onto that grey band of land
I remember that day so cold and grey
Want more poetry?
If you’d like to read all of the competition entries, they have been published in a PDF file, see Garvald Children Poetry Competition – All Poems 2014
Websites of interest for young poets, parents and teachers: