Poetry Competition 2016

NPD-logo-red-amber-landscapeThis competition was organized to celebrate National Poetry Day, 6th October 2016. We had a fantastic response with eighty entries! The theme, as for National Poetry Day, was ‘Messages’. The poems were sent as anonymous entries for judging and this year we were delighted to have poet William Hershaw as our expert judge.

William enjoyed reading all of the poems and said he’d learned a lot from reading them. In all three age categories he found it very hard to choose winners due to all the thought and hard work that had gone into writing them. Our thanks go to William for taking the time to judge the poems for us. Congratulations go to the winners! We hope they enjoy their prizes. Winners received book tokens, poetry postcards, poetry anthologies and the book of published 2016 competition poems.

2016 poetry book

2016 Poetry Book

The winning entries have been published here (scroll down to read them) and will also be published on the Scottish Poetry Library blog for teachers. We are grateful to the Learning Manager at the SPL, Georgi Gill, for her support and for arranging some lovely prizes. The Scottish Poetry Library is well worth a visit if you are looking for a huge range of poetry all in one place.

We would also like to thank Garvald and Morham Community Council for their support in funding generous book token prizes and the printing of the competition poetry book, in which all entries have been printed.


Category: 9 years

Winner: Grace Fletcher (A Message I Never Answered)
Second: Molly Mack (My Dog Passes Messages)
Runner Up: Calypso Robson (Don’t Read This Message)

William, our judge, said:

  • In the poem A Message I Never Answered nature is trying to tell us something. What can the message be? ‘Help me!’ I like the structure of using the four seasons in this poem. The last stanza shows how we can lose contact with nature if we don’t acknowledge her cries for help.
  • The poem My Dog Passes Messages demonstrates how we can communicate with other creatures – or maybe how other animals can communicate with us. How rewarding this can be!
  • Don’t Read This Message is a plea for privacy! I liked this poem because it explores how we like to keep secrets but also love to share them at the same time.

Category: 10 Years

Winner: Rudie Shearer (Message in a Bottle)
Second: Campbell Mack (Hermes)
Runner Up: Arthur Meynell (This Living Death)

Judge’s comments:

  • Sometimes in poetry less can be more and it’s what you leave out that can be important. The structure of Message in a Bottle is deceptively simple. Each first line uses repetition of the phrase “Message in a bottle”. Each second line begins with a present participle verb describing movement: “lapping”, “pulling”, “crumbling”. We never find out what the message is because it is “ink blurred by the tide”. The ending of the poem is quite sad and leaves a sense of mystery yet the whole poem manages to say something profound about time and the finder’s situation.
  • Hermes is one of a number of good poems that uses personification of the messenger god Hermes as a metaphor for our social media. I love the phrase “ripping through the sky”. Great word choice.
  • This Living Death is a serious war poem written as a diary entry from the trenches. This poem makes us think and sympathise with any soldier losing his comrades in war and facing his own death. Powerful and direct.

Category: 11-12 Years

Winner: William Gimlette (The Letter)
Second: Orlando Gray Muir (The Balloon)
Runner Up: Jinan Misbah (Messages to Myself)

Our judge said:

  • The Letter is another poem with a sense of mystery: what does the letter that is on the table say? Is it a letter received or waiting to be sent? The poet finishes with two very effective similes. The word choice creates thoughtful, vivid images: “swirl”, “cursive” and “crisp”. A skilled poem. One definition of poetry is “using the minimum of words for the maximum of meaning”. The author knows this.
  • The Balloon is a great story poem. The ending is not obvious and manages to be sad yet hopeful at the same time. The lines “it popped and let all my emotions drop to be caught in the wind” are memorable and beautifully expressed.
  • Messages to Myself is a reminder of how busy our lives have become. “My wall will never clear”. I hope it does soon. The poem poses the question “does social media and technology always improve our lives?” In this poem at least it helps the poet to organise her/his hectic life.

Winning Poems

Age Group 9 Years

First Prize – A Message I Never Answered

By Grace Fletcher, Age 9.

At the beginning of spring one year,
I was sitting in a park,
I looked at the flowers,
I saw a pattern in the flowers, it said Help Me!

In the summer I was on the beach,
Written in the sand there was a message,
Always the same,
Help Me!

In the Autumn I was under a tree,
The leaves were falling and I tried to catch them,
It didn’t work, I looked down,
The leaves were pushed into letters,
It said Help Me!

I was making a snowman in the winter,
With my hat and gloves on,
I dropped the carrot, I looked down,
There was a message, always the same, Help Me!

The following year,
There was no message,
I was never going to know,
No one would ever know what it meant,
It was a message I never answered.

Second Prize – My Dog Passes Messages

By Molly Mack, Age 9.

My dog barks when he is scared,
And drools when his food is being prepared.

He whines when he needs a wee,
And tilts his head when he watches TV.

He runs from the dark,
But when he wants to play he gives a loud bark.

He crouches down low waiting for me to give the ball a huge throw,
He waits by the kitchen door in hope that food will fall on the floor.

The thing I love most and I hope you agree,
Is the message of love in the kisses he gives to me.

Runner Up – Don’t Read this Message

By Calypso Robson, Age 9.

This message is private,
Don’t read on, no stop now!
You might be thinking why, what, how?
If you must know, it is none of your business.

This message is private,
Stop, go away, leave me alone!
All of this message is my own,
Don’t even try, you won’t find out why,
I don’t want you to see.

This message is private,
You’re really getting on my nerves,
Leave me alone, don’t you know what personal space is?
Oh I give up, I will cough up,
It is just from my granny saying hi.

Age Group 10 years

First Prize – Message in a Bottle

By Rudie Shearer, Age 10.

Message in a bottle
Lapping against the rocks

Message in a bottle
Being pulled away by the tide

Message in a bottle
Being found

Message in a bottle
Pulling out the cork

Message in a bottle
Crumbling in her hand

Message in a bottle
Ink blurred by the tide

Message in a bottle
Never coming home

Second Prize – Hermes

By Campbell Mack, Age 10.

Hermes was as fast as lightning ripping through the sky
No one ever believed that messages could fly
But fly they do through wind and hail
A letter, text or short e-mail

He carried it in hand
Over sea and over land
He always gets it there
So be aware

You may see him in the air
And get a little ‘scare’
He always makes a prayer
And flies with flair

Runner Up – This Living Death

By Arthur Meynell, Age 10.

These gunshots are deafening.
This trench is deep and sorrowful,
My lifelong friends are now rotting in the mud.

Is this really how we end?
Is this a living death?

My weapon eagerly waiting by my side,
Wounded cries of pain haunt the air,
Writing to you in this crumpled diary, before I am gone too.

This entry is my last,
And before long I will be forgotten.

I will go and find a world of unknown,
Going up triumphant,
Away from this damaged world.

Age Group 11-12 years

First Prize – Letter

By William Gimlette, Age 12.

There is a letter on the table,
The words swirl in neat cursive
A picture of Her Majesty lies on the front,
The words are held in a strong tight grip,
It is square, stiff and strong

While the envelope flies off,
Paper as gentle as cloth,
As crisp as a fallen leaf.

Second Prize – The Balloon

By Orlando Gray Muir, Age 11.

It took about five minutes to inflate the balloon
When it was done I wrote a small message
Outlining my feelings
It read:
This is a last response of a dying man
Who tries to make the world a better place
Though seems to fail at every turn
I caught up the balloon and flung it out of the open window
As it soared into the clouds
I slumped onto my bed and despaired.
It rose slowly at first
But was caught by the wind
And soared over land and sea
Until after three days and three nights
It popped
And let all my emotions drop
To be caught by the wind
It fell to earth to earth and was held aloft by a tree
A lonely man found it and he too
Felt the feelings expressed by the letter and took them to heart and helped others
Where I failed

Runner Up – Messages to Myself

By Jinan Misbah, Age 11.

I see the emails popping up with my own name on them,
I see the post-it notes glued all over the walls.
I sit down for several minutes trying to work out what the hurried streaks of blue mean, all my reminders.
All the duties I will eventually have to complete.
All the essays I have to write, all the messages I receive.
I know who they are from.
I know when they are due.
I know what to do first.
And when I finish them – I rip the note off the wall with satisfaction
But it doesn’t last for long because I rip it off just to stick a new one in its place.
My wall will never be clear.
But it is not a fear of mine.
It is not a bore, because these messages aren’t orders from someone else. They are all messages….
Messages from myself.

Want more poetry?

If you’d like to read all of the competition entries, they have been published in a PDF file. Paper copies of the book can be read at The Garvald Inn and Haddington Library.

Websites of interest for young poets, parents and teachers:

Celebrating National Poetry Day (Thursday 6th October, 2016).
Supported by the Scottish Poetry Library



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