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Earlyworks Press Web Poetry Competition 2015

£100 first prize, £25 runner up, £5 for any we show on the website.


 Mandy Pannett, poet and editor of (among other things) ‘Poets for a Liminal Age’ and ‘Georges Perec is my hero’ writes…

***Read the winning poems here***

General Comments

On the whole this was a strong batch of poems, well-crafted, intriguing and relevant. Many did not make for a comfortable read as they grappled with universal and contemporary issues of war, exile, homelessness, old age, memory loss, sickness, abuse, imprisonment, corruption, terror and the very nature of existence. I was impressed by choices of imagery and metaphor in many of the poems together with a use of language that combined musicality with a contemporary feel and originality with an impact that was frequently stunning.

It was hard to limit my selection. The poems I have chosen are outstanding but I would also like to mention the following  which, among others, also appealed to me:  The Lie, Another Fall, Action Woman, The Ontological Constant, Hospital Cornered, Ancestors Arrows, Autumn rain makes an installation, A Dip in the Pool, September Ontology, You, somewhere, among all this, Motor, I knew this would be the moment I missed you most, ng, Mary Lake BC, The Lick, The literary porn star, children of war; j’accuse, A Paralysed Mind, Just another suicide bomb, Private View.

 Highly Commended

The following poems win their authors £5 and publication in our next anthology

‘Innocent Blood’ by Mark A Murphy

I chose this poem mainly for its brilliant structure.  The whole piece comprises a series of eighteen questions based on the words ‘Innocent Blood’. The poem begins and ends with the same question ‘Whose Innocent Blood is this?’ while the repetitions in-between, especially the four lines beginning ‘Did You’, have the impact of hammer blows reinforcing the issue of personal guilt and responsibility.

‘The Garden’ by Mark A Murphy

I love the vocabulary in this poem – the blend of colloquialism, philosophy and science.  The opening lines caught my attention at once: ‘What can the thrush know/of Epicurus/as it takes another worm from under the rose-bush’ and it was fascinating to see how deftly, albeit with a light touch, the poet teases out themes of predation, narcissism, atomic connections, life and death itself.

‘Spinothalamic Tract’ by Harriet MacMillan

I was attracted to this poem by its use of analogies which remind me of seventeenth century metaphysical conceits. Here the urge to scratch an itch on a phantom limb or nerve of a damaged spine becomes a metaphor for the absence of a loved one.  I love this poet’s use of physical images, particularly the idea that ‘the relief’ (of being re-united?) ‘will be sweet,/like the emptying of a full bladder.’

‘The Dying Orange Bush’ by Dana Andersen        

The apparent simplicity of this poem which begins with two stanzas about an orange bush in the living room which is dying for lack of water and the fact it will be weeks before any help is received, lulls and then leads one to the sudden shock of the line ‘You could be dead by then.’ A lyrical but hard-hitting poem with the repeated motif of ‘six to eight weeks’ that seems to me to be about starvation and humanitarian aid (or the lack of it).


 wins £25, and an opportunity to submit further titles to our next anthology

‘Eva, Homo Sapiens ssp. brokenheart’ by Jan Harris

There is a tremendous amount to admire here – chain and end rhymes, a skilful blend of enjambment  and short sentences, the use of a specialist glossary of extinct or endangered creatures with fascinating names such as the po’ouli, the quagga, the thylacine (together with their onomatopoeic voices which cry ‘chit chit chit’ or ‘yip yip yip’.) Most of all though, it is the whole theme of the poem that is so outstanding – the concept of caged Woman, also on the verge of extinction, kept in a compound ‘tucked behind the tapirs and sloths’, able to be seen from a viewing deck although her own eyes have become shadows since they were drowned in the floods of climate change.  A brilliant and shocking poem.



 £100, and an opportunity to submit further titles to our next anthology

‘Girl Soldiers – Equal Opportunities for post traumatic stress’ by David Crann

I think I have selected a winning poem that will give me nightmares for weeks, for nightmarish and horrific images pile on rapidly in this powerful anti-war poem. The soldier-girl here lives in her own ‘personalised wasteland’ where keys turn endlessly in ‘revolving locks’, memories are ‘undigested slabs/of lumpy gravy’ and a wounded iridescent fish on the water’s edge shows one eye ‘glaring at the sun’ while the other burrows ‘insanely’ in the sand.

This is a sad and cynical poem, superbly written throughout. However it is the final stanza that persuaded me to choose it as my winner with its ironic allusion to Wilfrid Owen’s poem ‘Futility’ where this time it is the girl-soldier being moved in vain into the sun where she will never again smell ‘the honeysuckle and the yellow rose’ nor hear ‘the maudlin requiem of the whippoorwill’.

An outstanding and thought-provoking poem; a perfect winner.

 ***Read the winning poems here***

Mandy Pannett works freelance in the UK as a creative writing tutor. She has won prizes and been placed in international competitions and has judged several others. She is the author of a novella The Onion Stone and of five poetry collections: Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books), Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing),  All the Invisibles (SPM Publications) and Jongleur in the Courtyard (Indigo Dreams Publishing).She is the poetry editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly and editor of the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age (SPM Publications) which is published in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières. She has also edited Caron Freeborn’s prize-winning poetry collection Georges Perec is my hero (Circaidy Gregory Press) and is currently co-editing the poetry anthology Convergence, also for Circaidy Gregory Press.

Rules and Conditions

  • The competition is open to anyone over 16.
  • The best entries will be published, online initially, but with an option of publication in our next paperback anthology. The authors will receive one complimentary copy of the anthology. 10-20 will be included, depending on length and quality. All winners will be offered further copies at a reduced price if they request them.
  • Closing date 1st December 2015 Winners will be notified before the end of January 2016
  • Entry fee £3 per poem, £15 for up to six entries.
  • Poems must be the work of the entrant and not simultaneously entered for other competitions.
  • The judges’ decision is final. No discussion will be entered into.
  • Entries are not returnable and cannot be acknowledged without SAE marked for that purpose.
  • Copyright remains with the author although Earlyworks Press reserves the right to publish winning entries on the website.  
  • Submission of work will be taken as acceptance of rules and conditions.  

Entry options postal:

  • Send paper copy to Earlyworks Press, Creative Media Centre, 45 Robertson Street , Hastings Sussex TN34 1HL
  • Payment in pounds sterling. POs or cheques payable to Kay Green.
  • Paper entries must be titled and typed/clearly written on one side of A4 paper. Each entry (or each set) must have a cover-sheet attached, marked EP2015, giving title(s) of poem(s), author’s name, address, and or email address. Please say where you heard about this competition.
  • Please ensure that you have weighed your package and applied the correct postage. We cannot guarantee that entries will be received or opened if this is not done.

Or email:

  • Email entries accepted in the body of an email. Please choose the £3 or £15 Pay button then use the email address below to send your entry. Please include your contact details and Paypal transaction number at the top of the email, then paste the poems into the body of the email below them.



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