Congratulations to winning and commended young writers aged 14 to 30 from across Yorkshire and the nearby north who submitted wonderful work spanning short story, flash fiction and poetry. If you entered the competition and weren’t placed in the list below, don’t be disheartened. Keep writing! We’re looking forward to hearing from you again next time.
Big thanks to our judges Desire Reynolds, Vanessa Lampert & David Swann. Also, thanks to all who encouraged young people to enter from schools to youth clubs to universities across the north. Highly commended/commended listed in no set order.
“First choice because of its great shape on the page and well-chosen colloquialisms and details of place that ground this hymn for survival and colour it brightly. Wonderful!”
Vanessa Lampert on Tonight Rotherham Spits on Us by Ameesha Wood
1st Place: Tonight Rotherham Spits on Us – Ameesha Wood
First choice because of its great shape on the page and well-chosen colloquialisms and details of place that ground this hymn for survival and colour it brightly. Wonderful!
2nd Place: Ali’s box – Noor Al-Yafai
A neat box of words, a tribute which is almost a sonnet but not. I love the line ‘hooded with your streak of light’. A great poem.
3rd Place: Oaks Fold Road – Merila Gramy
Oak Fold Road magically conjures a place with thinly-veiled affection and the inevitable loss borne of leaving.
A Fragment of Two Flames – Maliaka Asif
A great story with emotional depth.
Funfair at Firvale Festival – Larissa Forbes
Set against the apparent joy of its title, Funfair very successfully harnesses a sense of adolescent awkwardness. I love the inclusion of the Jamaican word ‘pitni’.
Roses – Aamina Khatib
Suspenseful and gripping throughout.
2021 – George Thorpe
This title heralds what the poem holds, that which was the most significant event in that year for its speaker; the death of a loved one to Covid. Very moving.
The Feather – Jess Smedley
A story reaching for freedom through wonderful imagery and a heartfelt final line.
Oh Grandad – Eeman Fatima
A warm and loving tribute that gestures towards our earthly existence, then the sky and finally to God. Very touching.
Wet Glove – Amelia Boden
An original theme, charmingly told. I love the details, the ‘mother of three’ and how the glove reaches for the sky.
You – Farah Zubair
A poem of rage crafted into couplets. The space this creates within the lines makes the anger more keenly felt by the reader.
“A well-rounded and well-observed story with a lot of warmth, nuance and great characterisation. Very entertaining!”
Desiree Reynolds on Dry Taps by Eve Naden
1st Place: Dry Taps – Eve Naden
A well-rounded and well-observed story with a lot of warmth, nuance and great characterisation. Very entertaining!
2nd Place: Temple – Fatoumata Bayo Diba
An intense, powerful piece of writing, honest and unfiltered. The narrator’s depth of distress, because of how she views her body, is vividly illustrated throughout, creating an emotional response as I willed the narrator to ‘reclaim’ ownership of her body.
3rd Place: Let’s Make a World – Hala Mukhair
Poem as a heartfelt plea, a block of text without space to take a break from its message begging change, leading us all the way to its powerful moon-illuminated ending.
Checkmate – Antonia Stassi
Universal resonance in this fine tale of chess and death.
Going Home On the 38 – Natasha Morris
A bold choice of form, well-executed. The poem is jagged and counterintuitive in its layout as it carries the reader back towards a hoped-for safety that nevertheless feels a little uncertain because of this form.
The Haunting of Tess Prufrock – Eve Naden
A bold and mature choice of subject and a wonderful last line. The sense of finality in the end lines of the first two stanzas present the poet with a challenge to change the direction of the poem’s flow whilst holding the reader’s attention. This poet executes this brilliantly.
The Call – Lauren Roberts-Turner
The speaker never reveals the exact nature of the call, the reader learns only that it is bad news ‘expelling air into your future’. lovely unpredictable use of language.
Fidget – Amber Zakria
Clever writing where the speaker’s mind becomes the toy they are playing with and where the speaker finds solace in the toy’s predictability.
Green Oak Bench – Sarah Abdelmaksoud
This poem encompasses a strange and surreal description written with apparent indifference. Very clever use of language.
Lemon – Amber Ward
A close study of the simple fruit. ‘Lemon in my hand’ is a charming beginning. It’s last line ‘never to be enjoyed again’ hints at something more sinister without speaking of it.
“I love the otherworldliness of this story. Warm, characterful, and original. Brilliant!”
Desiree Reynolds on Ceramic Buddha by Erik Ruder
1st Place: Ceramic Buddha – Erik Ruder
I love the otherworldliness of this story. Warm, characterful, and original. Brilliant!
2nd Place: august in edinburgh – Jonathan Kinsman
Simply beautiful writing that crafts a feeling of anticipation within a particular place in a summer that isn’t the kind of summer one might expect so far north. Mature and sensitive writing.
3rd Place: Heartbreaker – Miranda Debenham
Because who doesn’t love a good romance story beautifully told (and that takes place in a strip club!)
45MPM – Jonathan Kinsman
I love how this poem merges the music of the body with the music of an era. Beautiful internal rhyme and not unlike reading aloud the lyrics from the record sleeve of an album (perhaps a concept album called Love).
Yoho Tower – Lydia Alison
A wonderful flawless love poem with a beautiful, unexpected turn in the last line. Such skilful writing.
Bedroom – Lauren Green
A disconcerting tale with clever and creepy characterisation and an excellent twist.
Your Dad in the Quiet Moorland Balancing a Map – Mac Goodwin
What an irresistible title. This poem is charming (the story of him losing his fingers to an alligator on the Pennine Way), both atmospheric and expertly executed.
Morning Prayer in the Hall – Fae Horsley
This is a dreamlike and surreal poem that moves in and out of fantasy and reality where fantasy is given priority and I love the gloriously simple description of the tail at the end.
Bathe – Ivy Napp
This close-study portrait of the body as a ship made itself of mainly water is a song for acceptance of what is in this carefully wrought and gentle poem.
The Surfer – Rebecca Drake
This poem begins with its intriguing portrayal of approaching the sea, where ‘the car’s liquid side’ suggests the speaker’s view from the window. The jagged right-hand margin of the poems suggest waves lapping the shore and the poems word bob atop the uncertainty of the speaker who, learning to surf asks via the cry of a seagull ‘who am I who am I who am I? and I raise heart above my ribs and fly’, the end rhyme gloriously closing the poem’s story.
The Border – Bayan Abdulla
A beautifully written poem. The final lines are devastating and memorable.
In the Smoking Area – Cristina Rizzo
Well-observed and nuanced, working to unpicking the complicated feelings around bumping into an ex.
Goddess – Lucy May
Great language and retrospection.
7th April 1861 — 4 Back Brick Lane, Halifax – Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth
A beautifully written poem. Its short lines have the effect of carrying the reader’s eye down the page. Wonderful imagery that calls to all the senses.
Dare – Louisa Rhodes
A story of complicated feelings told simply.
Master of The Arts – Matthew Page
A coming-of-age poem immersing its reader in themes of love and loss. The last line and a half are terrific ‘On sleepless nights, I have noticed the moon thinking hard before the dawn’.
Selkie – Rhiannon-Skye Boden
A beautiful hymn to a place where the speaker speaks frankly of its deficiencies, and with love for the grandparent who lives there, infusing it with magic.
SHORT STORY & FLASH FICTION
Désirée Reynolds is a Jamaican-British writer based in Sheffield. She told her Mum, at about 8 years old, that she was going to write a book and has been writing ever since. She started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has gone on to write film scripts, poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Her first novel, Seduce, was published in 2013 to much acclaim by Peepal Tree Press. Her fiction is concerned with working-class Black women, internal landscapes, and a continuous struggle against the white, male gaze, notions of beauty, race, and being. Committed to anti-racism and intersectionality, she draws on her experiences of these to make her creative work. Her short stories have been widely published in various publications and online.
Vanessa Lampert is poet from Oxfordshire. Since 2019 she has won the Café Writers prize, the Edward Thomas prize, the Sentinel prize and the Ver Poetry prize twice and come second in the Fish, Yeovil, Oxford Brookes and Kent & Sussex prizes. She was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2020 and listed in 2021. Vanessa’s work has recently been published in Magma, The Moth, The Oxford Times and Poetry Wales. She co-edits The Alchemy Spoon and teaches for Learn with Leaders in India. She has run workshops in schools, for Hive South Yorkshire, Poetry School and Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Her pamphlet ‘On Long Loan’ is published by Live Canon and her first collection will be published by Seren in Spring 2023.
David Swann is a short story writer and poet. His collection, The Privilege of Rain (Waterloo Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. Dave started out as a journalist, covering Accrington Stanley’s matches for the local rag. His stories, flashes, and poems have won many awards, including eight successes at the Bridport Prize and two in the National Poetry Competition. David is a Senior Lecturer in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.