Poetry Competition 2013 – winning and shortlisted poets

The winner of the Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2013 was Bernie Brooks with his poem 'Dementia'.


After you left me to live with confusion
I brought what remained of you here,
To perch on a green plastic armchair
and shout at the dead and the dying...

Read the rest of the poem 'Dementia'.

"I am delighted to have won the Single Poem Prize in this year's competition.

"Having been short listed in 2011 and 2012 I realise how much I have learnt from the comments received and I am certain that my success this year owes much to this feedback. It has also been really helpful and enjoyable for me to read and comment on other's poems; this has made me reflect more deeply on my own work.

"I know of no other competition that is as developmental or engaging as this one. My only disappointment is not being able to enter next year!

"The poem itself was inspired by conversations with close friends and colleagues caring for their elderly parents suffering from confusion and dementia, interwoven with experiences from my own parent's lives.

"In addition I have recently worked with GP's in London setting up a Dementia network, which made me aware of the scale of the problem and the tragedy that the condition brings."

Bernie studied English Literature at UEA over thirty years ago and has continued to write poetry and short stories in his spare time.

He won first prize in an international short story competition in 2012 organised jointly by the National Centre for the Oral Tradition and the Centre for Narrative Leadership.

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

"I live in rural Sussex and have a smallholding where we breed alpacas, turkeys, ducks and chickens. I am inspired by the natural world and love the countryside - especially in summer. I am also a keen runner and cyclist."

The winner of the Portfolio Prize was Shelley Nutting for her two poems 'Drawer Life' and 'Work in Progress'.

"I was both honoured and excited to win the Portfolio Prize, especially in view of the excellent poems on offer this year. I am delighted these two poems will be included in the e-book and have enjoyed the entire process immensely; there is something special about being judged by other poets.

"I wrote 'Drawer Life' at the end of a particularly trying day. I wanted it to be read as a statement of fact and was pleasantly surprised that so many people identified with it and admitted to being drawer dwellers themselves.

"'Work in Progress' was inspired by watching my daughter sketch and discard those drawings she was unhappy with. It made me wonder how I might fare under such scrutiny.

"This is the second year I have taken part in Poetic Republic and I have enjoyed the process immensely. The great strength of the competition is its requirement to leave feedback which makes the judging both exciting and challenging. It was wonderful to have access to such an array of talent."

Shelley Nutting lives in the west midlands under the guise of wife, mother and community nurse. She writes on a sporadic basis – mostly to aid sleep.

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

Dan Stathers with 'What the Weather Man Said'.

Dan Stathers writes poetry from a garden shed in deepest, darkest Devon. His poem, 'What the Weather Man Said', is about mood swings and medication.

After studying creative writing at the Open University, this year he was awarded the William Hunter Sharpe Memorial Scholarship 2013 by The University of Edinburgh. "Poetic Republic remains a scintillating contest," said Dan.

Jill Fricker with 'Objector'.

"I've belonged to Hastings Writers' Group since 2010, and have had poems placed in the National Association of Writers' Groups' competitions (2010, 2011 and 2012) and Milton Keynes Speakeasy Open Competition (2011). My poem 'Time-warped' has won the 2013 Bare Hands International Poetry and Photography competition.

"I had a poem published in the 2012 Poetic Republic anthology, and I'm delighted that 'Objector' has made the 2013 shortlist.

"'Objector' was my response to the Army's recruitment campaign at my son's school – filling a gap now the Careers Service has demised!"

Simon Miller with 'And Suddenly a Sunbird'.

Simon Miller is a teacher of English and Drama and has spent his working career in schools in the UK, Africa and South East Asia. He now lives and works in Thailand with his wife and three growing children.

He has always had a curiosity for what lies "beyond the next rise" and cannot imagine a time where this will not be the case.

'And Suddenly a Sunbird' was his first entry into any competition since leaving University 'eons ago' and reflects his interest in the relationships between the human and natural worlds.

Penny Shutt with 'That Last Click'.

"I was a trainee psychiatrist in the north of Scotland until recently when I left my job to return to locuming so I could devote more time to writing. This life decision got 28 'likes' on Facebook, however the plan is to eventually return to psychiatry and use therapeutic writing with my patients once I've got the novel I've been writing out of my system.

"'That Last Click' was my first and probably last attempt at writing a villanelle, it is about my gorgeous friend Claire who sadly died from a rare form of bowel cancer aged 24 during her first year studying medicine. She was an inspiration who lives on very vividly in the hearts of all those who knew her."

John Keenan with 'Kashmir Road'.

"I am a teacher and a manager in a Further Education college. I have been writing poems for about five years.

"I really enjoy the participatory format of the Poetic Republic competition particularly the challenge of trying to put into words what I like about the poems I select in each round of judging.

"The Belfast I write about in 'Kashmir Road' is the Belfast of my imagination rather than the real city. Both my parents came from Belfast and it is where I spent my childhood holidays."

Rachel Irven with 'Taking his Picture'.

"It is great news that one of my poems, 'Taking His Picture' has been chosen for the shortlist by people who have enjoyed it. It has been interesting to read the comments made by fellow poets on the poems I entered.

"I have been half-heartedly writing poetry for some time now, and it is nice to get a little validation!

"I have retired from the stressful business of being a Social Worker, and moved to live in the county where I grew up. Memories surround me here, and I want to try to catch some of them while I am still able!"

Mhairi Duncan with 'Handwritten'.

"To be completely honest (and I'm ashamed to say it) I can't even remember the process which led to the writing of 'Handwritten'. Although the moment sticks with me, the actual writing of this seems like a muddled blur.

"I am, however, profoundly moved by the wonderful and constructive comments people have made on it. Being an English teacher I am always commenting on the writing of others, but this is genuinely the first time I have put my wares up for public criticism.

"Although uncomfortable at times, I am wholly grateful for the practical and productive nature of everyone's remarks. What a wonderfully enlightening experience."

Phil Billing with 'Gaza 2' and 'Waiting for Rain'.

'Gaza 2'

"I was on Banana Beach, Tel Aviv, sipping a cold beer. I saw the gunships rise over the horizon and fly low and loud to the south. An hour later they returned and disappeared into distance. I knew what had happened before it was reported. I was shaken by what I had not seen. I had to write about it."

'Waiting for Rain'

"In Turkana, the land was broken, even around the lake. Parched and starving. Like the people to whom we handed parcels of maize and bottles of water. They slept beneath the star-splashed sky and told stories. They gave the precious water to their livestock; and waited."

Richard Woolmer with 'The End of the Road'.

"I'm delighted to be shortlisted and very pleased to think my poem has been enjoyed by fellow poets.

"I was born in India, lived and taught in Pakistan but mainly England. I am now retired near Windsor.

"I am a member of the Temys Poets and have had a number of poems published. I also have a 'History of Local Cricket' in the library at Lord's.

"The first line of my poem just floated into my head and the rest just evolved.
Sadly I increasingly recognise myself in the lines which followed."

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