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Hive Competition Results 2020

We are delighted to announce the results of our 2020 Young Writers’ Competition!

Open to young writers aged 14 to 30 across the region, the competition spanned short story, flash fiction and poetry. We were thrilled to receive a whopping 800+ entries from the near and far reaches of Yorkshire and the nearby north. So fabulous was the standard and range, our judges have acknowledged many via commendation. Winners will be published in a forthcoming Hive anthology, and commended will be invited to submit. 

If you entered the competition and weren’t placed in the below list, don’t be disheartened. Keep writing! We’re looking forward to hearing from you again next time.

Poetry judge, Jonathan Edwards said: It was a privilege to read and judge the Hive 2020 competition entries. The writing gave us everything from a sky falling in to a child flying alone, a party gone awry to the penetrating beam of a lighthouse at night. It was full of exhilarating language, dealing with the most important of subjects with sensitivity, imagination and care for the reader. Thank you to all the writers for the opportunity to read these pieces, and huge applause for your talent and hard work.’
Fiction judge, Paula Rawsthorne said:“Such impressive talent on display in this competition! When the world is, understandably, preoccupied by Covid, it was heartening to see that the entries covered a much more diverse range of subjects and genres. It demonstrated that while writing is a great way to express and gain some control of our anxieties, it can also offer a wonderful escape. Many pieces also made profound and sensitive journeys into the minds of their characters during therapy sessions, nightmares, encounters with death, bereavement, their own bodies and sex. I was in awe of so many of the images conjured up in these beautifully crafted pieces. 

Big thanks to: Our judges Paula Rawsthorne and Jonathan Edwards, the photographers who allowed us to use their images as writing inspiration. Also, thanks to all who encouraged young people to enter from schools to youth clubs to universities.

14-16 Category

“I was gripped by this strange, nightmarish tale.  It’s wonderfully written, creating an atmosphere dripping with dread.  There’s so much skill on display, not only in the concept of the story, but in the structure, characterisation and use of vivid description. Excellent!”
Paula Rawsthorne on Keeper by Dillan Butt

1st Place: Keeper – Dillon Butt
I was gripped by this strange, nightmarish tale.  It’s wonderfully written, creating an atmosphere dripping with dread.  There’s so much skill on display, not only in the concept of the story, but in the structure, characterisation and use of vivid description. Excellent!

2nd Place: Children Who Fly Alone Club – Robyn Young
What an original subject for a poem! The observation of details – the folks in Burger King, the watching of the bags – is excellent in getting the reader to share this experience. The plural first person works very well and, as the poem stakes its own unique claim for membership in the canon of poetry about travel, we are struck by the way in which so much of this experience becomes curiously representative of contemporary life.

3rd Place: Weighted Blanket – Katie Parkinson
This impressive piece displays immense maturity and thoughtfulness and uses wonderful detail and imagery. Its fractured structure seems to reflect the disturbed mind of the girl and there’s a hypnotic quality to the prose.

Highly Commended (14-16)

My Boy Can’t Love – Aasiya Elias
Intriguing, captivating and dramatic from its first phrase. It never quite explains itself, and so keeps the reader coming back to it. The language of the enigmatic speaker is exciting, unique, highly inventive, the events of the poem troubling. The writer understands the power of mystery and enigma.

His Nose is Broken – Tegan Blake-Barnard
A compelling portrait of a character, almost a cataloging of everything about them, the work of an empathetic writer. Everything about them noticed, and there are lovely small touches with language, in phrases such as ‘His fingers turned autumn with nicotine.’

Her Mistake – Hannah Ghulam
A heart-breaking story that connects emotionally and displays mature psychological insight.  The use of different points of view and times makes it more impactful and shows real skill as a writer.

The Worst Apprentice in Guth – Marissa Matischen
Loved this entertaining, imaginative and fabulously written piece. Throws the reader straight into a magical, comical scene, with a vividly created atmosphere and characters that jump off the page.

The Misplaced Museum – Abigail Smithson
Killer ideas are crucial for poems, and this is a great one. I love the way the poet takes an excellent idea and, through well-observed detail, makes it real: ‘I found it tucked away on the back of a shelf/its doorways hidden under thick dust /creaking with age.’

Sunset in Darfield Park – Emily Kirk
Formal control and elegance. Details observed in lyrical lines, and the voice of the poem is compelling.

Sharp Shards of Concrete – Tomas Richardson
The writing is so effective that it allows the reader to ‘walk in their shoes’.  The story manages to evoke the horror of their situation by creating believable characters and using details that feels authentic.

Broken Flowers – Naina Farnsworth
The story’s difficult subject matter is handled with skill and sensitivity. The style, with its short sentences and shifting time frames, is very effective and the piece is full of powerful images.

Through the Seasons – Cora Bretz
An intricate piece of ‘nature writing’ full of beautiful detail and musings.  It overflows with a profound appreciation and connection to the forest.

Too Faced – Olivia Mence
Great use of a walk in the woods to go ‘down memory lane’. Full of super detail about the surroundings and use of strong images throughout.  I also liked the last unexpected sentence.

Commended (14-16)

The Isolation Diaries – Emily Fox
A thought-provoking story that effectively uses Death, as the narrator, to gives us poignant insights into the human condition as he goes about his business. Well done!

Jenny Never Says a Word – Milly Boden
An excellent character portrait, compelling from the combination of its title and opening line. I love the accumulation of well-observed details and the formal control, the way the character takes on an almost mythical power.

The Finnish Woodlands – Toby Richardson
An accomplished piece of crime writing with a well-drawn central character and a gruesome, intriguing plot.  Full of super imagery, leaving us wanting to know ‘what happens next’?

SEND – Sharmin Syeda
I enjoyed the rich and original imagery in this story, especially the descriptions of the car as a cow.

Modern Women – Emily Kirk
This poem succeeds because of its highly original, daring central simile. The way that an image is sustained, and the way images of violence are controlled with a great sense of form, mark this poet out as someone with huge potential.

Strange Beginnings – Marissa Matischen
An intriguing, well-written opener to a mystic tale. I particularly liked the insightful characterization of Egregore.

Cracked – Dillon Butt
An enjoyably sinister tale that’s well-written and entertaining.

17-19 Category

“A riot, a party of striking phrases. One can’t read this poem without reading actively, being fully engaged. ‘Look over here!’ says every sentence and so we do, turning our heads, rapt.”
Jonathan Edwards on Poetry or Dancing by Jade Beachell

1st Place:
Poetry or Dancing with My Shadow – Jade Beachell
A riot and a party of striking phrases, arranged beautifully across lines: ‘Perhaps life is about leaving flowers in a jar/till they rot…It is easier to be obsessed than happy.’ You never quite know what might come next, but you do know that it will be fascinating, thoughtful, insightful. One can’t read this poem without reading actively, being fully engaged. ‘Look over here!’ says every sentence and so we do, turning our heads, rapt.

2nd Place: Woman – Bethany Eve Thomas
An intense, powerful piece of writing which gives the impression of being 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: Forecast – Beth Pearson
This hymn to the weather eventually becomes, in its great late turn, a hymn to a loved one. This poet understands the impact of direct address, has great formal command and is capable, with telling phrases, of spinning ordinary experience – the everyday of rain – into great art.

Highly Commended (17-19)

The Falling Sky – Jade Beachell
An enjoyable, amusing piece that displays real originality.  It has a refreshingly absurd, surreal quality and the use of, the uncommon, ‘second person’ – suits the off-kilter, playful tone.

Woman – Sophie Lutkin
A wonderfully powerful poem by a hugely skilled writer. Brilliant phrases are arranged beautifully across lines to maximise impact: ‘don’t question/my collection of tongues on the shelves… I will call on you/when I need a coatrack.’ This writer understands the impact of a poem being about the interaction between an ‘I’ and a ‘you’, re-appropriating the way that approach was used by writers like Donne to craft a striking feminist riposte.

Jellyfish – Bethany Eve Thomas
A delightful, well-written family-friendly story. It flows with convincing dialogue and fine detail that helps the reader picture the scene. I could see this story developing into an appealing ‘middle grade’ tale.

Strength – Ellie-Mae Britton
I loved the authenticity and bravery of this poem. Phrases like ‘Fingers scroll through endless lies’ sum up so much about contemporary life. The poem has a relentless power, speaking for an experience of great importance with great care.

The Waiting Girl – Hannah Oliver
A highly effective dramatic monologue. The powerlessness of the speaker is heart-breaking, calling out to us long after we have read the poem. The use of repetition and telling detail allows us to fully experience the speaker’s plight.

Why He Preferred Sunsets – Ella Cudmore
There’s a sweet melancholic tone to this story.  No words are wasted as each sentence contains detail and description that skilfully conjures up George’s character and life. Loved the sentence – ‘… the powerful heat of the words thawing the chill in his bones.’

I have always wanted to be perfect – Lucy Godrich
I loved the surreal personification of perfection in this poem. It allows a unique way into a deeply important subject, so the poem wonderfully balances lived experience with the imagination. We follow the speaker’s developing narrative all the way to a highly effective ending.

Portrait of a Woman – Sophie Lutkin
Another highly effective dramatic monologue, this poem allows us to fully engage with this speaker’s emotional experience. The poem is full of telling phrases: ‘he was superman and I was a soundbite…When he wanted to keep things simple, he’d smash my teeth into a mosaic.’ Great poems offer us the world in microcosm, exploring huge themes through one small incident, and that is certainly the case here.

Commended (17-19)

Space Woman – Hannah Oliver
I love the surrealism and the energy of the language. The writer is wonderfully gifted in terms of the imagination and uses that ability to powerful and emotive ends.

Bearing Fruit – Ellen Waters
Formal elegance and sophistication. The way that the fruit comes to stand for so much in the poem is really effective, giving us a memorable totem of distanced lockdown life.

Messy Room – Joel Walker
I really enjoyed this poem’s understanding of the way in which place can give us a person. The repetition, humour and warmth for the character being addressed make this a stirring poem.

20-30 category

“There’s much to marvel at in this beautifully written piece.  It’s laden with original, arresting images and inventive turns of phrase.  It manages to convey the feverish, anxiety-inducing, ramblings of a nightmare in captivating style.”
Paula Rawsthorne on Terror Form by Mac Goodwin

1st Place:
Terror Form – Mac Goodwin
There’s much to marvel at in this beautifully written piece.  It’s laden with original, arresting images and inventive turns of phrase.  It manages to convey the feverish, anxiety-inducing, ramblings of a nightmare in captivating style.

2nd Place: Slut – Freya Jackson
This was the poem in this category which had the biggest emotional impact for me. The voice is compelling, the scene authentically and dramatically drawn, form is interestingly controlled and there’s a strong ending. If poems should live with us after we read them, this writer has done a great thing here.

3rd Place: All My Mother’s Daughters – Maia Brown
Beautifully crafted, written by someone whose sophistication of voice shows how well-read and committed to their craft they are. A very contemporary lyricism and control of language and phrasing.

Highly commended (20-30)

We Live in An Abandoned Mansion – Lucy May
Writing that beautifully conveys the unsettling, bewitching atmosphere of events inside the mansion and of the building itself.  The wonderfully vivid descriptions throughout allow the reader to feel as if they’re walking in Hope’s shoes and sharing her emotions.  The mansion is so well-drawn that it becomes another character.

Moorfire – Patrick Sykes
An important and dramatic subject, which is very well-handled. The detail of observation is excellent, and the wonderfully lyrical ending seals the poem perfectly.

Ulysses in Space – Luke Hilton
I really enjoyed the quirkiness of this deftly written piece. The abundance of convincing detail throughout, gives the illusion of authenticity and helps the reader to become invested in the story and in Brian, who is a pleasingly peculiar protagonist.

Pink and Speckled – Rosemary Evans
An absorbing, thought-provoking piece – Kath’s anxiety and state of mind is powerfully evoked.  The imagery around the octopus is particularly striking.

 Fragile – Ingrid Johnson
This piece displays strong, confident writing.  There’s a precision to each section that gives it a distinct rhythm.   The story feels original and takes a fresh perspective on the ‘sick child’ genre.

Lullaby – Emily Mellows
This poem has a fascinating, enigmatic power. There’s a wonderful originality in the overall subject and the approach to it. I love the image in the first stanza of the curtains as ‘two mothers clutching at newly empty stomachs’. There’s a powerful ending, and this is a poem that grows really effectively on re-reading.

Meniscus – Evie Wilson
I love the music and energy of this poem: this is a writer fully engaged with the idea of the sound of language being as important as meaning in poems. I love the image of the otter, ‘the light of the Danube/bowed into his back’ as he dips. This writer’s language works wonderfully to create a real natural scene in movement.

Weather – Martha Boyd
A really strong, idiosyncratic portrait of a developing relationship that may or may not be perched on the edge of disaster or development. I love this poem for its details – the tortoise, the ‘fit-back-into-one-day’ pyjamas, which give us all the authenticity of a life, and for its lyrical ending, which allows the poem to take off at just the right moment.

Commended (20-30)

Ninety-nine – Louisa Rhodes
As well as the ‘crime element’, the narrative is full of vivid images, detail and insights into how we view seaside towns and memories e.g. ‘the sand was never quite that yellow.’  It’s this strong sense of place that most impresses.

Birthday – 22 – Lydia Allison
I love the way the narrative of a relationship develops here through very well-chosen detail. Time shifts are deftly and dramatically handled, and the ending gives the poem a commanding, enigmatic, ambiguous power.

Ode t’Town – Ellie Dolan-Yates
An excellent subject: the writer really manages to capture the energy and spirit of a place. I love the ambition of the poem’s formal arrangement on the page, while one can also imagine the poem being performed to an audience that would love it.

Grey Matter – Rebecca Hill, 30
A well-written, interesting piece innovatively structured by moving through ages. Paragraph three particularly stood out.

Hello, this is the Job Seekers’ Help Line. Your call is important to us. Please Hold – Isabelle Kenyon
This poem draws us in with its wonderful title. I love it for its sardonic, acute skewering of all our recent troubles. ‘We have consulted YouTube on baking and gardening and realised/we hate them both’ is easily the most astute comment on lockdown life I have read in a poem, and I applaud this writer for it.

First place prizes
: Kindle Fire HDs
All 2nd & 3rd place winners: writers goodies
And all winners in each category will be offered professional feedback on their work, and have their work published in Hive’s 2020 young writers’ anthology.
Highly commended: Book voucher & invited to submit to the Hive 2020 anthology
Commended: Invited to submit to the Hive 2020 anthology
(All will be invited to read at our next live event – possibly not until spring due to the pandemic)


Jonathan Edwards’s first collection of poems, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), also received the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award, and in 2019 his poem about Newport Bridge was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Jonathan won the Terry Hetherington Award in 2010, was awarded a Literature Wales new writer’s bursary in 2011. In 2012 he won prizes in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the Basil Bunting Award. His poems have appeared in many magazines including The Poetry ReviewThe North, and New Welsh Review.

Jonathan has read his poems on BBC radio and television, recorded them for the Poetry Archive, and leads workshops in schools, universities and prisons. He is editor of Poetry Wales magazine and lives in South Wales.

Paula Rawsthorne is a multi-award-winning writer of Young Adult fiction. She discovered that she could write when she won a national BBC writing competition and her comic tale, The Sermon on the Mount was read by Bill Nighy on Radio 4. Her dark stories for adults have been published in anthologies of contemporary literature. Her first YA novel, The Truth about Celia Frost, was a winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Undiscovered Voices. Published by Usborne, it was shortlisted for eleven literary awards and won the Leeds, Sefton and Nottingham Book Awards.  Her second novel, Blood Tracks, won the Rib Valley Book Award.

Paula’s short stories for teenagers have been commissioned by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and published in an anthology of award-winning Young Adult authors. Paula’s third YA novel, Shell, (Scholastic 2018) won the North East Teen Book Award, The Derbyshire Schools’ Book Award and The Hampshire Book Award.  Her latest Black Mirror-esque YA novel, The New Boy, was published last year.

Paula is invited to do author visits in schools throughout the UK and is a writer in residence for the literacy charity, ‘First Story’. She lives in Nottingham with her husband and three children who are all much taller than her. Find out more about Paula and her books: or on Twitter @paularawsthorne 

Due to the pandemic, we will not be doing a reading event for the competition or anthology until early next year. But it will be so worth waiting for!