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Announcing the winner and runners-up of the UKA Open Theme Poetry competition!

UKA Open Theme Poetry competition 2012

Firstly, thank you all so much for your entries - we certainly had a bumper crop, and John certainly had his work cut out for him.

Secondly, grateful thanks go to our esteemed judge, John Webber, poet, travel writer and novelist John Webber, author of A Slowboat to Moscow, Private Histories and Had Van Gogh Had A Day Job

And last but definitely not least - congratulations to the winner, runners-up and highly commended!

Well done all,


SECOND AND THIRD PRIZES: A copy of UKA's 'Voices from the Web 2011-2012' prose and poetry anthology or, if preferred, an earlier anthology (see here).

Please do post your entries on the main UKA site if you wish. All our members will want to read them!

Over to John...

First and foremost I'd like to say a big thank you to all the entrants for providing work of such diversity and high quality. This makes the job of judging a very pleasurable one and though it also makes the task a little harder it would be a pity if it was too easy!
I would like to congratulate those selected here for their winning efforts, but also urge those who aren't not to be discouraged – there are plenty of other competitions that may find you as winners, so keep trying!



1st – Alpha Omega by John Thomson
This poem achieves a wonderful air of mystery and beauty and does a vital job of leaving spaces for the reader to fill in his or her own interpretations, and so participating in the process of making the poem. As such it's probably a different poem to each reader while still maintaining its own integrity in each well chosen line. Above all, it's an expertly written and constructed piece.

Alpha Omega

On the razor`s edge of morning,
the winter haunted city
opens like a new flower.
As the sky shades to azure,
April dresses old beginnings
in all her new illusions.

Here, the soft clouds of curtain
turn your skin to muslin,
while a merciless clock
chimes to your breathing.
The blackbird who lives
on the borderline of reason
sings his hymns to traffic.
And I watch cold sunlight touch you
on that pristine white horizon,
watch the antiseptic air
flutter too-thin roses
which moult by the window.

All down the morning`s passing,
I wait for hope or demons
or ghosts I need to find.

Years pass in these hours.
From all I have known
to this day, when memories
slowly become legend.
All my words have two meanings.
They hang like accusations
In the tyranny of your eyes.

the light breeze plays
its empty shape
among the apple trees.
In the sunlight, they are
pure white angels, heroes.


2nd – Tigh mo Shenair by Lillian MacLeod 
A beautiful poem about an old house in a rugged landscape, but it rather subverts the often found themes of finding solace in home and nature and presents the reader with a bleak and wistful picture. The writing is compelling and vivid and radiates the atmosphere of its chosen subject to the mind's eye and the imagination.

Tigh mo Shenair

The westering sun sinking 
to hide behind Luskentyre
lets slip a spill of light. 
It shines unkindly on 
the house on the hill,
its warmth no longer reflected. 
It seems to mock the empty cold,
the shabby whitewash ,
the broken windows, 
the rotting frames.
If silence could weep . . .

Sheep wander past uncaringly;
the wind nibbles at 
bits of ragged curtain.
Seagulls stand disdainfully 
on the fragile roof.
The little garden, so hard won
from the acid moor,
is a home to weeds,
its walls slowly crumbling.
If silence could weep . . .

The decay pulls a wrap of
mournfulness about itself,
as if in guilty shame,
to hide the fading past.
The emptiness gathering there
draws the heart out of me.
I laughed there, in that house, 
ate oatcakes in the morning,
and heard psalms said at night.
I slept there the blessed sleep of 
all that is good and peaceful,
breathing the deep content and 
soft air of the beloved west.

If silence could only weep . . .


3rd – Living Memory by Ralph Jones 
This is a poem of history and personal experience that nicely balances the two in a concise and well-structured framework. At the same time it conveys a range of emotions from the small to the monumental and does so in a deceptively easy manner.

Living memory

When my heart started beating
the last soldier who fought
in the War Between the States,
a Confederate, was still alive.

In Arizona, an Apache,
ninety years old,
renewed his driver's license.
As a boy he rode
with Geronimo,
took scalps from whites
and Mexicans, but in 1959
he's a frugal man,
drives his pickup
to the supermarket,
coupons in hand.

When she was a barefoot little girl,
she made tortillas for Pancho Villa
and his Villista revolutionaries.
They lived on horseback,
lined up mounted on horses
as she stretched on tiptoes
to give them their rations.
By the time my heart beat she
lives in Phoenix, owns
a tortilla processing plant.
Her middle-aged son,
now a religious zealot,
is an irritating fanatic.
At night when the plant closes
she sits at her desk and weeps
for the past glory of all who fought bravely
against the invincible giants
arrogantly striding across stolen lands.


Highly commended: Charlotte's Garden by Abigail Deeks; A Bit Part In A B-Movie by Michael Treacy; Un Blanc Dans La Conversation by Daffni Percival

Charlotte's Garden – Abigail Deeks

At the bottom of the garden she struggled with the frost encased earth.
Battling with nature’s stubborn inevitability, (winter’s harsh challenge). 
Charlotte would be 80 next May but that wasn’t going to discourage her.
Determination was something that had been instilled in her from an early age.
Even after signs from her body to "quit whilst she was ahead" she was strong.
Farrow girls had strength of will but could be at times rather pig headed. 
Gifts came from her garden, gifts she could bestow on neighbours with pride.
Harvest had been and gone yet she knew it would reward her again soon.
In her shed were lovingly cared for tools once shared by her parents.
Joint composers of this fruitful garden which now was Charlotte’s own.
Kind friends would dissuade her against the continuation of this tradition.
Loved ones were unfortunately no longer here to appreciate her plight.
Mothers had children to share their traditions with, Charlotte was childless.
Never having children she hadn’t really considered her garden after her.
Of all the things she had considered after her death, this wasn’t one of them.
Popular belief was that there were certain things you didn’t do at nearly 80. 
Questionable beliefs of people who didn’t understand Charlotte thought.
Reasonable people, she thought, with unreasonable expectations.
Sometimes she did get tired, did get frustrated and did become sore.
Then spring would come with hope and new shoots and beautiful blossom.
Unreasonable to expect her to give up this at anytime of her life, she thought.
Velvet covered apricots on the trees, wigwams of scarlet on runner beans.
When did you have to stop what was good, what was right for you.
X-rays showed that Charlotte’s cancer had reached her lungs, her breath.
Youth had been stripped from her along time ago but this was different.
Zoologists could now study her out of habitat, out of Charlotte’s Garden.

A Bit Part In A B-Movie – Michael Treacy

I wanted to be the hard, 
handsome hero
earning ten million dollars
with sculpted sinew
and rampaging manhood
that invaded badlands,
swamps and sewers
with gas grenades,
grappling hooks
and anti-tank weapons
to sort out the dinosaurs,
giant mutant ‘gators
and blood-crazed aliens
that were eating innocents,
helpless lawyers
and nubile females
with partially-exposed
heaving bosoms,
but I ended up with the wrong script
and there was no rippling torso
or dying worlds to save,
no inter-galactic adventures
or glorious sunsets,
no scantily clad ladies
awaiting the chariot
of a hero’s arms,
just a limp libido,
an empty bottle
and a bit part in a B-movie.

Un Blanc Dans La Conversation – Daffni Percival

Fear, said I, binds all humanity;
Nations and individuals that dare not give
enough of trust bind but themselves;
Fearing to die we dare not live,
and with conventions build our prison bars
around humanity that could achieve the stars.
Therefore let us break this craven net,
stand forth from our protecting ramparts unafraid
and, with understanding and compassion, not forget,
in that arena by our own doubts made,
that lacking all defences we might be
far safer than in armed impunity
All this I said, believed and must believe;
It is the rock on which the tower of my being stands.
I know no other creed by which to live;
And so I hold with somewhat faltering hands
to this my faith -- this little spark
that must keep burning or my life be dark.
A kindred spark you took and fanned it to a flame.
Alone then in the island of its light
you stood before my door and called my name.
All my desperate hopes in that fire burnt bright
but, afraid, I stood within my castle wall
and of myself gave naught instead of all.

Congratulations again to all,
John Webber.

Copyright © UKAuthors 2004.

: 2012-02-07 (567 reads)

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