Poetry Competition 2014 – winning and shortlisted poets

The winner of the Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2014 was John Keenan with his poem ‘The Garden of Eternal Spring’.

The Garden of Eternal Spring

It’s a mystery, Dad,
how you turned your back on caution
and entered this Persian night garden,

ten foot by five foot six
from Bowman’s of Camden Town,
perhaps Mum led you by the hand…

Read the rest of the poem 'The Garden of Eternal Spring'.

“I was absolutely thrilled to win the best single poem prize in this year’s competition – thrilled and surprised because the quality of the poems that I’ve read as part of the judging process has been very high."

“I enjoy the unique format of the Poetic Republic competition. I find the comments that others make on my poems helpful, encouraging and often surprising and I enjoy writing something about the poems I’ve liked. It is a very interesting challenge to find the words to express exactly what I have liked in a poem."

“The Garden of Eternal Spring is one of a series of poems I’ve written in response to my poor old Dad’s decline into confused old age. Perhaps they help to reconcile me to the inevitable tide of change.”

John is a manager at London Further Education College and has been writing poetry for the last six years. In 2013 his poem ‘Kashmir Road’ was shortlisted for the Poetic Republic Poetry Prize.

The winner of the Portfolio Prize was Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth for her two poems 'Nervosa' and 'Caulking'.

“I am truly astonished. I had to take a little time before I wrote this reaction because I was honestly beyond words. This is the first time I have entered this competition, indeed, I only started entering competitions at all during my Easter break this year and it’s been a wonderful experience. The manner in which the competition is run is unique; the opportunity for much needed feedback and the ability to participate in the judging has been an utter pleasure. It’s an experience I would recommend to anyone and well worth a try, no matter your level of experience.”

Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth is a twenty-two year old Creative Writing student from Preston. She is currently studying for her Masters at Lancaster University and hopes to start her PhD next year. She has previously been shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize and has had two poems ‘Long Exposure’ and ‘Shadowboxing’ published by Forward Poetry. ‘Nervosa’ and ‘Caulking’ are from her undergraduate portfolio and both deal with the difficulties of change, in particular the consequences for those who ultimately cannot move on.

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

John Syfret with 'Gently Down’.

John Syfret was brought up near Reading and has been writing as long as he can remember. He has worked in education and recently completed a CELTA course with a view to becoming a TEFL teacher. He is currently working on a collection of ghost stories.

Richard Woolmer with 'THE WOOL-GATHERER'.

“I was born in India and lived and taught abroad but mainly in England where I now live with my artist wife near Windsor."

“I enjoy words and writing and have had a number of poems published. The ‘WOOL-GATHERER’ is a gentle soul I enjoyed inventing."

“I am pleasantly surprised and delighted to be shortlisted again and to have two poems in the eBook. Thanks to everyone who commented on my poems. It's a real privilege to have this response.”

Tracey Martin with 'Warming Bees'.

Tracey Martin is a poet, short story writer and works in international development.

She has lived in Thailand, Laos, Nepal, Cambodia and The Gambia. A lot of her poems are about her experiences overseas. She suffered severe culture shock returning to the UK in 2011 but her poems are now beginning to reflect her experiences here.

“‘Warming the Bees’ is based on a real experience in Devon in 2013. Most people assume it is about children but the people involved were all adults but maybe still children at heart.”

David Phillips with 'The Musician’s Wife'.

“Twenty-nine year old English poet, writer and artist from Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Solver of riddles, slayer of dragons, occasional nudist."

“Currently writing my first novel and collection of poetry, hoping to be published in the new year. Has aspirations of fame and fortune. Will work for money or sandwiches (depends on the filling)."

“Favourite quote: ‘The poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music.’ (Søren Kierkegaard)”

Rosalind Bleach with 'Travelling Light'.

“One of my commentators asserted that my poem had been 'impertinent' in having 'stolen' phrases from Edward Thomas: 'It was late June'; 'on the bare platform' etc. Here's my apology: I believe that Adlestrop is part of all poetry lovers' consciousness so I enjoyed the idea that these insertions might trigger images of Gloucestershire from that lovely poem, that would resonate with my remembered ones of midsummer in Finland. I confess it was a playful idea, but then for me--a tubby 64-year-old---writing poetry is just a rare, engaging experiment.”

Kayleigh O’Reilly with 'Interrupted'.

Kayleigh combines a stark, confessional style of poetry with a naturalistic appreciation of the small details of real life. Infusing conversations and observations into intricately weaved narratives that slowly reveal themselves, both to audiences and readers alike.

Kerry Darbishire with 'Rain'.

“I've lived all my life in the hills of Cumbria, married to an artist and have two daughters, two dogs and over the years have kept geese, hens and ducks on our smallholding. I was a song writer but now addicted to poetry with some published success and now working on my first collection with Indigo Dreams Publishing."

“Living in a fairly remote place, the idea for 'Rain' came from my home landscape.”

Rachel Irven with 'Something of the Child'.

“I was really honoured to have a poem shortlisted in this competition again, amongst so many other fine poems."

“I have retired from a stressful job and am now enjoying spending my time in the West Country where I grew up. Life is busy here, there are always things to be done and I do not have as much time to write as I anticipated. However, coming this close to winning encourages me to keep on keeping on!”

Jill Fricker with 'Airborne'.

"I’ve been placed in a number of competitions, and had poems and a short story published. My poem, ‘The High Line’ was Highly Commended in this year’s Sussex Poets’ Award."

“I’m delighted to have two poems selected for this anthology (one shortlisted) - the third year that my work has been published by Poetic Republic."

“‘Airborne’, was inspired by a trip back to New York in 2011 and Colum McCann’s novel, ‘Let The Great World Spin’.”

Alexander Velky with 'Kuzka’s Mother'.

“I published my first collection Mistaken for art or rubbish in 2013. It got two bad reviews, but Bill Drummond liked it. I decided to start entering competitions again, and ‘Kuzka’s mother’ is the second poem from my forthcoming volume Rhymes for all times (due 2015) to be shortlisted for an international prize. If you search “Doubtist Books” online you’ll find videos of me performing poems in my shed. Please say hello. I’ve preferred this to most competitions because I got to read and enjoy so many other entries.”

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