Winning Poems for School Years 8-11


Autumn Poetry Competition 2018

Winning Poems for School Years 8-11

Winner: Louis Bruce for 'The Piano'.

I sit down in front of the black and white keys,
Little hammers strike the strings,
Making them resonate,
Inside the intricate system,
Smooth ivory strips flow.

All starts flowing, 
Body, soul and mind connect,
Melody and harmony develop,
It all comes together.
Everything falls into place,
Pressure builds,
Next part of the song begins, 
Nerves creep in.

There is the piano,
Majestic instrument,
Stands its ground,
As the song ends,
Nerves are dismissed.

Judge Jackie Anderson's comments:
Through this poem flows the music of the piano player. Hesitant, a little nervous at first, the poet sits at the instrument, considers the hammers striking the strings and the resonance they will create and from this intricacy, something smooth and beautiful will flow. There is an effective expectancy created with the first stanza, and a pause before the pianist starts to play - an excellent use of simple punctuation and structure to enhance meaning. Then the pace picks up in the second stanza as the music comes together, and the pianist describes that sense of connection with the music, where "body, soul and mind connect." The reader is taken through the experience of playing the piano, the pressure, the nerves, and the poem draws to a close with a touch of reverence to the piano, the "majestic instrument" standing its ground, and at the conclusion the poet allows us release: "nerves are dismissed." A lovely, personal experience in poetic form and a worthy winning poem.

Runner Up: Pierre Leroy for 'Alameda'.

A leaf falls on my face,
As I wander down the red paths
that weave through the flowers 
and twist and turn around the garden,
Interconnecting with itself,
Forming a vast network.

I look around me,
The great trees and cacti
towering above the beautiful flowers.
Flora from Brazil to China,
Next to cannons and war memorials;
A tranquil reminder of a violent past.

It is strange, that a world
so tropical, yet so local,
so natural, yet so well-made,
so close-to-home, yet so foreign,
Bursting with colour,
Bursting with life.

I wonder down the red paths,
As I weave through the flowers
and trees and cacti like a bird,
Free from society,
Free from expectation,
Merely a witness to Nature.

Judge Jackie Anderson's Comments:
A poem on a popular these such as a walk in the gardens could fall prey to cliched images and overused phrases and yet this young poet gives as a very personal insight into his thoughts and his feelings as he browses around a familiar beauty-spot. The poet makes good use of imagery to elevate the poem from the mundane into words that invoke a sense of wonder and provoke contemplation in the reader. The poem starts with setting the scene and the reader enters a world of twisting and turning paths, a garden "interconnecting with itself" pulling the walker into its "vast network". We are treated to images of "great trees and cacti" and beautiful flowers deftly juxtaposed to "cannons and war memorials" to emphasise the poet's astute observation that these are "a tranquil reminder of a violent past" - refreshingly unexpected. In the third stanza, the poet asks us to reflect on the unique anomalies presented by the Alameda: "so natural, yet so well-made, so close-to-home, yet so foreign." The poem ends with a thoughtful reminder of the pleasures and freedom of a wander through the gardens as "merely a witness to Nature." 

Highly Commended: Gabriel DeVincenzi for 'Bounce Bounce Bounce'.

Bounce, bounce, bounce,
The ball hits the floor,
The crowd wants more,
Adrenaline rush,
The pressure, too much,
The score is even,
Time is ticking, ticking, ticking,
I pass and I move,
Just waiting and waiting,
Forever contemplating,
My next move,
What should it be?
Drive in, or shoot a three?
I need to open, but they all surround me,
Like a mouse in a mousetrap,
Being munched by its teeth,
I shoot and I score,
But nothing is happening,
I snap back into reality,
I’m still just imagining,
Shooting socks into the laundry basket,
All these scenarios,
Add up to nothing,
I dream about pressure and the chance to prove it,
But I do nothing,
I’m stagnant,
And that’s the way i choose it,
Aspirations are nothing,
They decay and remain,
You want a chance to prove it?
Then stop hoping for anything,
Stop chasing,
Stop blaming,
Stop it.

You want something?

Do it.

Judge Jackie Anderson's comments:
This poem starts with a bang - or a bounce! It draws the reader's attention with a great first line and then proceeds with a fast, relentless rhythm, the speed of the game emphasised with "adrenaline rush" and "time is ticking, ticking, ticking." The poet draws us into a fast-paced game, and just as we are engrossed in the tension - what is the next move going to be, with the narrator score? The tension is built beautifully with the fast pace and the threat of danger: "they all surround me, like a mouse in a mousetrap". And then there is a "snap back to reality" and the game turns into a metaphor for life - the pace slows and the poet introduces the reader to his reflections, his 'problem': "I dream about the pressure and the chance to prove it, but I do nothing, I am stagnant." The poem effectively brings the reader crashing down to a reality: "aspirations are nothing, the decay and remain," and it ends in a warning emphasised by repeated use of the word "stop", and with an exhortation: "You want something? Do it." A short, sharp ending with powerful impact.