Poetry Competition 2012 – winning and shortlisted poets

The winner of the Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2012 was Shona Albouy with her poem 'Spider'.


They cling,
like diamonds to a glistening brooch.
She creeps and bears her spider-babes
arching her eight legs in clumsy ballet…

Read the rest of the poem Spider

Shona was previously shortlisted in the Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2010.

“Fantastic news! I'm delighted that so many people liked 'Spider'. The poem was inspired by an incident in my garden when my children were small.

Reading the comments has for me reinforced the idea that the kind of poetry people seem to enjoy draws on everyday moments and even the tiniest details to convey a universal resonance.

It's great to feel part of a community of people who love poetry. This is such an excellent way of judging poetry because even if you don't win (as has been the case for me in previous years) there is an opportunity to receive feedback from participants' comments. I've also enjoyed reading the other poems immensely.

I have had work published before, though not poetry! My secondary school course book Sex and Sensibility: A Sex and Relationships Course Book for Secondary Schools was published in 2009 under my maiden name Shona Kerr.”

The winner of the Portfolio Prize was Sharon Black for her two poems 'Water into Wine' and 'Babel'.

“I’m delighted to have won the first ever portfolio prize at Poetic Republic. I am especially pleased because of the democratic nature of the contest – all entries being judged by fellow poets.”

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the remote Cévennes mountains of southern France with her husband and their two children.

She has been published widely and won The Frogmore Poetry Prize in 2011. Her first poetry collection, To Know Bedrock, was published by Pindrop Press last year.

“The idea for ‘Water into Wine’ came as I was driving along in the car listening to a CD by The Crash Test Dummies (remember them?). There’s a line about turning water into wine – clink, my title. It’s as close as I get to writing love poetry. I made the mistake of letting my husband read it which had him strutting about drawing haloes above his head all day, which kind of spoiled the effect.”

“‘Babel’ just kind of wrote itself. I’d been trying to find a way into writing about mental illness, specifically a depression that comes over me every summer (there’s such a thing as Inverse Seasonal Affective Disorder apparently – and I didn’t just make that up) which seriously affects my ability to communicate. The image of the tower of Babel sprung up out of nowhere and I immediately knew I’d found my metaphor so I scribbled it down as fast as I could and made very few changes afterwards.”

The other poets that reached the final shortlist of 12 were:

Bernard Brooks with 'The Homecoming'.

Bernie is a consultant in leadership and organisational development working principally in health, social care, education, central government and criminal justice.

He studied English Literature at UEA over thirty years ago and has continued to write poetry and short stories in his spare time. Bernie was previously shortlisted in the Poetic Republic competition in 2011 and has recently won first prize in an international short story competition organised jointly by the National Centre for the Oral Tradition and the Centre for Narrative Leadership.

He lives in Sussex with his partner and two sons on a smallholding where they rear alpacas, turkeys, ducks and chickens.

"I learnt a lot more this year because of the comments requirement - particularly about punctuation. I think my writing will benefit greatly."

David Fraundorfer with 'My Year of Coffee'.

“‘My Year of Coffee’ was based on my experiences working in Criminal Justice. I considered it to be a suitable poem for this competition as I thought it was reasonably accessible and would appeal to a wide audience.

My writing is something of a lazy Sunday afternoon hobby and I am published in literary journals on a reasonably frequent basis. If you're interested, you can find more of my 2012 work in Right Hand Pointing, JAAM, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Blackmail Press and Cu-rr-ency."

Ruth Fry with 'Threading the needle'.

“I am a Communications Manager for a local authority and live in central Scotland. I completed an OU creative writing course last year and since then have been writing bits and pieces. One of my poems was chosen to be discussed at the StAnza Masterclass at the St Andrews poetry festival, StAnza, which really encouraged me.

The Poetic Republic competition looked like a great opportunity to get some feedback and I was surprised and delighted to have reached the final round.”

Joanna Humm with 'Anatomy Class'.

“I live in East London, work where the wind blows me. I am a lazy, sporadic poet.

This year was the second time I have taken part in the Poetic Republic competition, and I'm thrilled that ‘Anatomy Class’ is my second poem to have reached the finals.

The range of interpretations evident from people's comments about the poem was really interesting; it was written quickly, with tongue firmly in cheek, and I'm pleased so many people enjoyed it whether amused or otherwise.”

Lisa Kelly with 'A Classmate'.

Lisa Kelly lives and works in London. Her first poetry pamphlet is forthcoming from Hearing Eye.

“The Poetic Republic competition is an eye-opener for anyone interested in what makes a poem work. Apart from the pleasure, you learn such a lot reading other people's poems when you have to make often difficult decisions during the voting process, and the comments provide invaluable feedback.”

Rob J Mann with 'Memories of Mum and Dad'.

“I only started writing seriously two years ago when diagnosis of a brain tumour meant the end of my 25 year career in the finance industry. The best advice I have received so far is to 'write about what you know' and this is reflected in ‘Memories of Mum and Dad’.”

Jude Neale with 'A Quiet Coming of Light'.

Jude Neale is a Canadian poet living on Bowen Island (B.C. Canada).

She has been published frequently in anthologies, journals, magazines, and on-line journals. Her book, Only the Fallen Can See (Leaf Press) was published in 2011. It is a collection of poems that have been informed by mental illness. She was shortlisted for the 2012 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize.

Lauren Palphreyman with 'Our Nanna and her Inconvenient Time Saving Pastime'.

Lauren Palphreyman is 23 and lives in London. She studied a Masters in Criminology at Lancaster University and is currently working in market research: her passion however is in writing and she has recently completed a first draft of her debut novel which she hopes to get published in the near future.

“I’m very pleased to have made it to the shortlist of this competition! I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s poetry and gaining feedback on my own has been great. My poem is about my Nanna; a woman whose eternal and undying love for my grandfather will always be an inspiration to me.”

Sandra Robinson with 'Not a Bad Life'.

“I love writing poetry. It is wonderful to be short-listed in the Poetic Republic competition.

Writing poetry has always flowed in my life, up and down on its tides. It is such a distiller of things and an enhancer.

I have had some of my work published in anthologies and won a BBC Radio 2 Ballad Writing Competition in 2005.”

Honor Somerset with 'Lost'.

Honor has been a BBC journalist for the last sixteen years after an earlier career as an actor. “Both are about story-telling,” she says.

She is currently doing a diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University.

“I have only recently started writing poetry, so am very excited to have got so far in the competition.”

Poetry Competition Homepage