Poetry Competition Winners 2023

Poetry Competition 2023

Overall Winner

“The Rhyme of the Modern Mariner” by Claire Barwood


I saw The Ancient Mariner drinking whisky in a bar,

I wondered why he wasn’t stopping one of three,

So I went inside to ask him why

Before he had had time to flee.

I fixed him with my glittering eye

And held his skinny hand

‘Ancient Mariner please tell me why you are still here

In such a modern land?’

‘Unhand me red haired enchantress,’ quoth he

‘Can I not retire from all that dross?

It’s been many years long gone by

Since I shot the albatross’

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was sat close by

And came to see what was going on

‘Can you leave my friend alone?’ said he

‘It’s best  that you be gone.’

‘I’m an admirer of your work,’ I replied

‘And though you’re supposed to be deceased,

I’d like to know why you still live

That much I need to know at least.’

‘There was a ship,’ the mariner began,

‘For to sail to the heavenly abode,

But we jumped overboard as it cast off

And since have walked this earthly road’

‘Tis true!’ master Coleridge replied

As an albatross flew by the bar

‘We played dice with death and we did win

Life forever ‘neath a yellow star.’

‘The spell is broken,’ the mariner said

There’s no need to bother one in three,

I live my life and you live yours,

And do so joyfully.’


Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


“Claire’s poem is a clever pastiche of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  There are many echoes of the original poem, transposed now to the twenty- first century and given an ironic twist. The speaker confronts the Mariner and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and quizzes them both.  Their answers are humorous and unexpected.


Characteristics of the original poem are displaced and attributed to the wrong person, so that it is the speaker who has a ‘glittering eye’, not the Mariner; the presence of the Mariner in a modern dive drinking whiskey; Coleridge’s plea to leave the Mariner alone whereas in the original it is the Mariner who pesters the unfortunate wedding guest; the hellish ship becomes a conveyance to heaven which they have abandoned to live on earth-all these elements transform the original into something piquant and entertaining.


Once they abandon the ghostly ship, they tread the earth, having also defeated the two vampire women who played dice for the lives of the Mariner and his crew.  And, of course, an albatross flits past the bar unexpectedly!  Claire has mastered both the content and the style of the original; she has also employed the language we find in many of Lewis Carroll’s parody of popular verses and hymns in the Alice books.  This is a tour de force and makes Claire’s poem a very worthy overall winner.


Claire’s poem is wonderfully constructed (notice the rhyme in lines 2 and 4 in every stanza), clever, sophisticated, funny, showing a deep understanding and appreciation of Coleridge’s enigmatic poem.  Well done!”

Poetry Competition 2023

Adult Winner

“The end the beginning of the journey

(modern haiku sequence)”

by Eduard Tara

the first flock of cranes –

unfolding the old map of

my missing father

my silent garden

full of forget-me-nots –

yet closing the gate

buying the last ticket –

taking with me the smile

from my mother’s photo

empty small airport –

a window frames the sunset

and the deep silence

boat on the calm sea –

a dolphin suddenly breaks

the moon into shards

the horse’s mane –

teaching about how the wind

can speak without words

campfire between us –

the old man’s story wrapped

in flames and sparkles

still in the middle

of the unknown answers –

a cold Milky Way

children’s laughter –

on a dusty road sharing

the flight of a kite

returning home –

the last bus carrying

only me and the light

first fallen petals –

the wind is gathering light

along my old street

my blossoming plum tree –

the end and the beginning

of the journey


Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:

 Eduard Tara with the end and the beginning of the journey (modern haiku sequence). We’ve all read Basho’s famous haiku about the frog and the pond.  This jewel of a poem is an iconic exemplar of a Japanese form of poetic composition and Eduard’s collection of haikus, called a renga, is a worthy offshoot of Basho’s masterpiece.  Traditionally consisting of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, the haiku celebrates a season, draws on many natural images and freezes a moment in time.


Eduard starts with a journey, closing the gate, buying a last ticket, arriving at the airport, undertaking a sea voyage, possibly riding a horse, looking up at the night sky ‘a cold Milky Way,’ returning on a bus to the old street.  But this provides a bare framework for stunning images: the leaping dolphin shattering the moonlight on the sea, the horse’s mane fluttering in the wind which endows the wind with language, the playful children flying their kite, the dusk, and the end of the journey with ‘the first fallen petals’ and ‘blossoming plum tree.’ 


In keeping with the hallowed haiku tradition, flowers punctuate the journey and silence (my silent garden, deep silence, speak without words) is treasured above sound. 


Traditional Japanese haiku is culturally indebted to Buddhism, Taoism, and animism. Though these thought worlds are not evoked directly in Eduard’s haikus, they permeate the feelings of nostalgia, repose, yearning and natural beauty which his poems embody.


This is a wonderful collection of haikus.  Eduard has sensitively re-created the Japanese form and made it his own.  Well done!


Poetry Competition 2023

 Adult Runner-Up

“The Journey…”  by Mike Nicholls


Sorry to inform you, stage 3B is what you have
Lymph node melanoma, was not on my satnav
Those days of immortality, a relic of the past
Replaced by life expectancy, how many years forecast?
The journey just beginning
Panic permeating
Mood swings oscillating
Post op excruciating
Lightness follows darkness, medicine on my side
Immuno long word therapy, my defences amplified
GHA oncology, firmly in the chair
Bloods and drips and test results, a body in repair
The journey aggravating
Brain ache escalating
No longer disbelieving
Day to day upheaving
Christmas comes and Christmas goes, normality quite close
Not long ago so healthy, now a juxtapose
The zeal for geniality, banishes the fear
Belief in perpetuity, a resolution of new year
The journey undulating
Belief reverberating
Anxiety abating
Katrina, Jess and Jason, supporting Dr B
Grateful to professionals, and my family
Now the treatment’s over, it’s fingers crossed and prayers
Postponement of that trek, up eternal stairs
Panic obviating
News once devastating
Hope now radiating
… the journey.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Mike Nicholls with The Journey……We have all encountered cancer either in ourselves or in our loved ones. In the 21st century, almost 50% of the population will either battle through this most devastating of illnesses, or succumb to it after a long, agonising struggle.  Mike’s poem reflects the harrowing experience of a patient who has faced the reality of a cancer diagnosis and is now enjoying some kind of reprieve. 


3B is already an advanced state cancer and stage 4 could spell ultimate dissolution.  The speaker is understandably non-plussed by the revelation: panic sets in, moods are uncontrollable, convalescing from the operation agony, then the long, excruciating journey into adjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy with their distressing side-effects. 


Mike then rightly celebrates the friendly, professional help and support of the chemotherapy team (I’ve met them all and can vouch for Mike’s admiration).   Then there is a glimmer of hope when the treatment seems to be working.  The poem, which is so personal and intimate in its details, is testimony of Mike’s resilience and his lust for life. 


Formally, the poem is expertly structured with alternating stanzas of long and short lines.  The short-lined stanzas, with their plethora of present participles, catalogue the patient’s daily struggle with pain, depression and fear.  We can only wish Mike the very best in his journey to a permanent recovery.  A very poignant, brave poem. (I am assuming the persona and the poet are one and the same person)

Poetry Competition 2023

 Adult Highly Commended

 “My mother’s hands”  by Gabriel Moreno


My mother’s hands are now my hands.

In my skin I see the geography of her skin.

I remember, as a child, gaping

into the furrows of her hands,

wondering what journeys, what nights
inscribed texture in her human wings.

Back then I fretted for my mother’s hands.

I cursed the clothes that irked her hands

as she bashed the dirt of our days

against the sides of the stone basin.

If only it all stopped, I thought,

this endless cycle of dirty shirts

and stained kitchen cloths.


But my mother’s hands are now my hands.

I marvel at the crevices and the holes.

Now I know no amount of leisure

can keep our hands from returning

to the rugged leather of the earth.

I remember the soft touch of her fingers

on my hair as she lay me down to sleep.

My mother’s hands are now my hands.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Gabriel Moreno with My mother’s hands.  Gabriel’s poem is a loving testimony to the way we inherit some physical characteristics from our parents.  Our bodies reflect the physical nature of our progenitors, so that we carry not only their genes, which are, after all, invisible, but also the colour of hair, eyes, shape of our mouth.  Hands are specifically human; they not only shape the universe we inhabit, but create beauty, and convey our love and desire when we fondle and caress another human being.


The speaker here endeavours to interpret the deep message he finds inscribed in his beloved mother’s hands.  Before the invention of washing machines, female hands bore the unmistakable signs of the daily washing of clothes, shirts and sheets. Hands were chafed, deformed and raw. The son now ‘curses’ the fact his mother had to endure this daily torture.


 He has inherited her hands and even though they don’t have to wash clothes, they yearn for the close physical contact he enjoyed as a child.  She ruffled his hair, and his hands now feel the ‘rugged leather of the earth.’


We are often surprised at how often we repeat in our bodies the physical presence of our parents, and this becomes more uncanny as we get older.  Gabriel’s poem is sincere, moving and unpretentious!”

Poetry Competition 2023

 Adult Highly Commended

“The Octopus” by James McNally


She knows it’s time. He knows it too.

If he has any sense, he’ll leave.

She doesn’t mind. She’d eat him alive –

but not because of malice. No,

because that’s what love is. Unconditional love.

A love that was once his is now hers

and is no longer his. Wisdom retreats

while she falls to the bottom of the ocean.


Above her head she strings a clutch of eggs

that almost look like offerings –

like grapes, or passements around a bed,

crocheted comforters, plaited braids –

they might be many things. If you’d ask,

she’d say, “they are my chandelier,”

an honest smile gracing a mouth

that has forgotten hunger.


Day by day they hatch and leave her;

gram by gram, the heart grows lighter.

Air rushing into an empty nest,

she swells like an upturned sail

and drifts towards the sun.

Specks of gold on the blue pass by

with their regards. She too regards them,

but memory paints grey on grey.


They forgive her. Why wouldn’t they?

All that time waiting for one moment

only for it to go unrecognised, unspoken.

It happens to us all. Words are loaned

but love cannot be reimbursed –

this much is understood, even

while her mundane garments wash ashore

to be picked apart by scavengers.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


James McNally with The Octopus.  If you have any romantic notions about love and sex, a quick look at the mating habits of the octopus will quickly dispel them. James has thought hard and long about the way octopuses mate and procreate.  The startling message of this ingenious poem is how James has managed to describe what is in essence a form of murder and cannibalism so delicately and sensitively.  The beautiful vocabulary, ‘passements around a bed,’ ‘plaited braids’ and ‘an honest smile gracing the mouth’ endows the macabre ritual with dignity and a sense of purpose.


The young become ‘specks of gold,’ and the dying mother octopus, her task completed, ‘swells like an upturned sail’.   Her once magnificent body is now mere ‘mundane garments,’ food for hungry scavengers.


The semelparous octopus seems to exist only to ensure the continuity of the cephalopod race.  Tentacles, hood, large gloopy eyes, become senescent once mating and birth have taken place.  James has written an absorbing poem, and the readers of his poem may need to brush up on their octopus lore!

Poetry Competition 2023

    Best Poem in the Spanish Language

“A Caballo por el campo” by Daniel Francis Brancato


A caballo por el campo mi espíritu se eleva
Montado en mi corcel mi alma se renueva

Por la madrugada partimos con el roció nos bañamos

Por senderos y caminos con ímpetu avanzamos.


Espuelas plateadas como estrellas brillantes

El jinete y el caballo, dos seres errantes

Mi caballo relincha como un canto divino

Resuena en el campo como un eco genuino.


Hermoso espectáculo de doma y elegancia

En cada relincho, en cada dulce cadencia

En el vaivén del trote brota la chispa de la vida

Un cielo infinito, nuestras almas compartidas.


De los montes retoña el espíritu de la vida

Al galope con brío por la tierra florida
El canto de las aves, amapolas y azucenas

Al lomo de mi caballo se me quitan las penas.


Con chumberas en flor la campiña se extiende

Al compás de mi caballo mi corazón se enciende

Se siente el campo en todo su esplendor

Donde el toro bravo se yergue con ardor.

Libre como el ave, sin reglas ni protocolo

Mi montura y yo nos fundimos en uno solo

Cabalgando hacia el ocaso, al galope sin temor

En una comunión divina, con alegría y amor.


La melena de mi bayo flamea con soltura

La brisa nos acaricia, suave y con dulzura
Siento alegría inmensa, me siento tan vivo
Así cabalgo, en armonía con mi amigo.

Hermoso animal, sublime creación
Tu presencia irradia tanta emoción
Eres sereno y fuerte, lleno de nobleza
Tu lealtad infinita, mi mayor riqueza.

En el campo sereno encuentro mi inspiración
En cada hoja que cae, en cada rayo de sol

Del monte a la playa, a sentir la brisa del mar

A caballo gozo la vida por El Campo de Gibraltar.


Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Daniel Francis Brancato with A Caballo por el Campo.  Daniel’s magnificent poem is a hymn of praise to his horse.  The interpenetration between horse and rider is complete by the time we reach stanza 6, ‘mi montura y yo nos fundimos en uno;’ this deep bond is powerfully symbolised in the mythical figure of the centaur when the two beings are seamlessly united.


Daniel’s vision takes in the whole universe as he gallops in the Campo de Gibraltar: ‘los montes, el canto de las aves, las chumberas en flor, el ocaso.’  However, the most beautifully rendered stanzas describe the horse itself.  The horse’s neigh is ‘un canto divino;’ also, ‘una dulce cadencia’; the horse’s mane ‘flamea con soltura’ and the animal’s more winning qualities are his ‘lealtad’ and ‘nobleza.’


Riding this superb steed inspires the speaker with overflowing happiness, fulfilment and palpitating life.  The nine stanzas are carefully structured with an aabb, ccdd… rhyme throughout and a majestic music echoes the movement and grace of this special horse.”

Poetry Competition 2023

 Spanish Language Category Runner-Up

“Oye mi canto” by Mark Montovio


Al igual que el camaleón de ojos avispados que no perdona oportunidad,

a lengüetazos nos mantiene a raya sin consideración ni bondad.

Horas y horas bajo un sol abrasador,

otras veces a la merced de una lluvia sin pudor.

Y eso solo para cultivar y cosechar,

lo que acabará engalanando otras mesas como manjar.


Expuestos a golpes,

tomas de fuerza,

y represalias que hieren la dignidad,

esas jornadas maratonianas en el campo,

tan abrumadas de cansancio,

ahogan el cántico de la libertad.

¡Oye mi canto, Señor!  ¡Oye mi canto!

Nos mantienen como perros, como esclavos.



Pero ese odio, que entre la sombra acecha y ruge,

solo riega el sueño del patrón.


La recogida de esa fruta dulce, que aún nos sabe tan amarga,

nace de la tierra de los sueños que hunde a la gente en la nada.

Son tierras tormentosas que ocultan su negra infracción,

regadas por el sudor que desmenuza lentamente el concepto de civilización.

Y con leyes desiguales que explotan esclavizando a una raza de salvajes,

el repique de esos crímenes solo alimenta la desesperación.


En condiciones paupérrimas, insalubres e infrahumanas.

Entre paredes de adobe medio derruidas, vistiendo techos de chapa y ramas.

Sobre colchones donde festejan insectos que sepultan la risa y encienden el llanto.

En cautiverio sin desafío, en manos de los que muestran sus dientes de espanto,

En circunstancias de vida que funden las fuerzas pasadas de largo.

Y si, ellos nos vendieron la libertad, pero nos mintieron amargo.


La angustia y la desolación de una vulneración normalizada,

es la definición perfecta de la esclavitud en el siglo de la manada.

Estrangulados y arriñonados.

Arrinconados y despechados.

Y así postrados con el llanto del que pierde a sus vástagos, con gotas de fe rogamos,

¡Oye mi canto, Señor!  ¡Oye mi canto!



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Mark Montovio with Oye mi canto.  ‘Canto’ is a vague term in Spanish literary parlance.  Mark’s plangent canto can be interpreted as a lament and plea.  The lament has the agonising depth of a true jeremiad (Jeremiah, it seems, wrote the Lamentations); the plea is a heartfelt cry to God for help and manumission.


Slavery is the ultimate degradation of a human being.  Sadly, we unthinkingly brush it aside as characteristic of the ancient world, but we know there are still many forms of slavery in our so-called enlightened world: the indentured worker, the day labourer, the worker without health care, social security, without the right to strike, or enjoy a respite from soul-destroying tasks.


Mark paints a grim picture, almost apocalyptic in its scope, of daily suffering, humiliation, and despair.  The only person who benefits is the callous ‘patrón,’ whose table groans with the harvest food gathered by his slaves.  Mark creates an oppressive atmosphere of daily struggle, ‘esas jornadas maratonianas en el campo;’ living conditions are primitive and insalubrious; the physical toll is evident in the labourers who are ‘estrangulados y arriñonados.’


This is an impressive contribution and of a standard we have learnt to expect from such an accomplished writer as Mark.  Well done!

Poetry Competition 2023

 Spanish Language Category Highly Commended

“Pedagogia en alas” by Levi Josef Attias


Desplegando frágiles alas,

Mil mariposas abanican

Con aliento de azahar,

La brisa de la silente alba;

Impacientes, esperan el amanecer

Para abrir sus alas de terciopelo

Que ayer encomendaron a una higuera

Al entronarse el atardecer.


En la lejana memoria,

Pero palpable recuerdo,

Vibran morriñas de un insecto lento,

Esa oruga, de evolución armoniosa,

Zumbidos de lejana mensajería

En un sedoso y ovalado recinto,

Un capullo zurcido, su hospedería.


Blanda, cilíndrica, de patitas cortas,

La oruga lanza un íntimo proceso,

Una vigilia de transformaci6n,

Una odisea de muda y reposo.

Y la crisálida, en silente fosa,

En la matriz del hospedero,

Logra reabsorber sus órganos

Para irrumpir, vulnerable pero preciosa.


Las mariposas, azafatas en pedagogía,

Nos inspiran como sutil arquetipo,

Sirviéndonos de metáfora y guía.

Jamás neguemos a la vida su vigor,

Ni anonademos el cáliz de la alegría,

Ni in mole nos las semillas del interior.


Las mariposas nos invocan

Que abracemos el dulce legado,

Cimbreante y resonante son del alma,

Deshelando la zozobra ingrata,

Pacificando arañazos y fogatas,

Deshaciéndonos del ¿Qué dirán?

Y con valentía desde el interior

Zarpamos y dejando detrás un ser

Para comenzar a realmente ser.



Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:


Levi Josef Attias with Pedagogía en alas.  The transformation of a caterpillar into a moth or butterfly is nothing short of miraculous, even though we now understand the biological process that lies behind this dramatic change. 


Levi has looked closely at this metamorphosis and drawn some salutary lessons.  The change from eggs into caterpillar, pupa and adult moth or butterfly becomes paradigmatic of life-changing experiences.  The whole process becomes ‘una metáfora y guía’ for us, an example to drain the ‘cáliz de la alegría’ to the lees, to cultivate ‘las semillas del interior.’


The butterfly’s ‘frágiles alas,’ impatient to take wing, discard the earlier and awkward phases of the insect’s journey to maturity in this ‘odisea de muda y reposo.’  The ultimate lesson is one of transformation into something ‘rich and strange’ (Shakespeare).  We are encouraged to imitate the butterfly in its natural growth to adulthood and splendour.  The poem’s rich language is a joy to read and appreciate.

Poetry Competition 2023

 Spanish Language Category Highly Commended

“La balada del café” by Colin Golt


En la taza de la mañana,
la vida se despierta con fulgor.
El café, un elixir que engalana,
me hace volar sin necesitar motor.
Amargo y dulce, sabores en fusión,
el café cautiva con su encanto.
Despierta al más somnoliento corazón,
y pinta sonrisas en cada canto.
Negro como la noche sin estrellas,
y cálido como un abrazo sincero.
El café, rey de las cafeteras,
mi ambrosía, mi aliado certero.
En cada trago, mi vida se anima,
mi mente despierta y el mundo se aclara.
Gracias al café, mi musa prima,
la mañana entera se vuelve una charla.
Así, en cada taza, un ritual sagrado,
donde el café despierta mi ingenio.
Y su olorcillo, un verso afortunado,
el café, mi compañero de ensueño.
Espresso, cappuccino, cortado o latte,
en todas sus formas, siempre encantador.
El café, elixir que me combate,
despierto, animado, lleno de vigor.
Así, entre tazas humeantes y risas,
el café me acompaña en el vivir.
Y mientras lo bebo, suspiro sin prisa,
agradeciendo al café por existir.
¡Brindemos al café con alegría!
Gracias por despertar mi poesía.
En cada sorbo, una melodía,
y el café, mi fiel compañía.



Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:


Colin Golt with La balada del café.  Colin’s ballad is a wholehearted celebration of the invigorating and inspirational qualities of coffee.  Coffee energises the ‘somnoliento corazón.’


Coffee launches the new day and fills every moment with meaning and happiness.  Coffee is praised and endowed with very special qualities: it is like ambrosia (the food of the gods); it is the ‘musa prima’ (the source of poetic inspiration); ‘elixir’(the guarantor of immortality); ‘ritual sagrado’ (a ritual undertaken with almost religious seriousness).


But the most beneficial effect of drinking a cup of coffee is its ability to awaken poetic talent.  The dormant ‘musa prima’ is enlivened, the ‘ingenio’ is quickened and the result is ‘un verso afortunado’ and a renewal of ‘mi poesía.’  


Coffee aficionados don’t need encouragement, but this poem will seduce the most inveterate tea drinker into a coffee lover!  Colin has written a tour de force about what is probably the world’s most popular drink.

Poetry Competition 2023

Best Poem in the Llanito Category 

“Se tá perdiendo” by Dale Buttigieg


Lâ pavanâ tàn volando
Polô patiô de Hivertà
À vè si por una kalle
Amehòn se pweda kuxà
Lâ palavritâ dun làngwij
Ke lô ‘vemo orvidàu d’avlà
Komo’n gaite sin levante
Ke seguro no va volà
Sori àlô ke dêpwè vengan
Kon un pâtiso ke reglà
Porke no va sè na fasi
Traè tolo perdìo patrà
Un mevli traviàu nla plasa
Un molino k’aigre no da
Un mîto ke tà sin llama
La farola sin alumbrà
Ese ê er vurdè ke dehamo
Polâ kallê de Hivertà
Tamo supwêto savêlo
Nwêtro hèritij, no’h verdà?
Metìo devaho’r tapete
Vien kondiìto komo si na
Kièn va dâle ‘na apolohìa
À ese làngwij ke no va tà?
La patuka ke se pierde
Kolâ s’olitâ dela ma
Si ê ke s’ase dòkiumenting
Lo vamo tenè k’akseptà
Ke tiramo ese hìstori
K’àla pwerta vino à pikà
Er partìo se tà perdiendo
Ni un gou lo va podè sarvà
Pìdeselo à Fadakrîmâ
Kè màjik tenemo k’usà?
Pa ‘sè rivèsing un stori
Ke sì va terminà fatà
Si ese Hivertà der fiucha
Er Llanito no save ‘vlà



Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:


Dale Buttigieg with Se tà perdiendo.  Dale is a great advocate of Yanito and his poem, Se tà perdiendo, is a lament for the slow erosion of our distinctive language.  The initial seagull searches in vain for ‘lâ palavritâ dun langwij/Ke lô’vemo orvidau d’avlà.’ 


The disappearing language is compared to, depressingly, to ‘un mevli traviàu,’ ‘un molino k’aigre no da,’ ‘un mîto ke tà sin llama’-things which have lost their raison d’être.  The language is part of ‘nwêtro hèritij,’ but we have neglected and devalued it. 


Dale is definitely following his advice about ‘ke s’ase dòkiumenting- his short story (earlier this year) and this poem are powerful pleas for the central role played by Yanito in defining our heritage, culture and distinctive character as a people.


If Yanito has a future in the ‘Hivertà del fiucha,’ we need to overcome our linguistic prejudice and glory in our multi-lingual society.

Poetry Competition 2023

Llanito Category Runner-Up

“Vámono Pa Little Bay!” by Susan Cabezutto


No me entretenga que me voy pa Little Bay,

It’s where I spend my summers every single day,

Adonde vamo esta mejor?

Que in this small place they all ignore,

Hasta que el Levante se apodera,

Y el red flag con fuerza vuela,

Sabre Eas.tern y Both Worlds,

Ahu, now adonde vamo?

Porque el Quary esta jampacked,

Y el Nuffield Pool tambien esta full.

Po vamono pa Little Bay,

Que es temprano, just midday.

Ai que calor por Dias,

Ai el concrete coma quema,

Tantas piedras que dilema,

Que no tengo plastic shoes,

Que hecho de meno la arena,

Con la orilla llena stones,

Que dolores pa mi bones,

Ai la ola que me lira,

Que me ahogo, madre mia,

It’s the ferry cuando cruza de Malaga a Tangiers,

No vea el tidal wave that suddenly appears,

Ya no vengo mas,

Cada uno pa sus playas,

What’s the time, Siri?

Ai por fin,

Es la hora del pollito al Piri-Piri.



Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:


Susan Cabezutto with Vámono pa Little Bay.  What a delightful poem Susan has written.  Summer’s here and the heat is unbearable unless you stake your claim to some spot in one of our crowded beaches.  So, the speaker does not want to be detained as she rushes to set up her beach umbrella in Little Bay.  But Little Bay is only the default choice when the Quarry and Nuffield Pool are congested with sunbathers and swimmers because there ‘el concrete como quema,’ ‘tantas piedras’ torture your feet ‘que no tengo plastic shoes’ and the ‘orilla llena stones.’


The poem succeeds beautifully because the use of Yanito sounds natural and unforced.  We all say ‘no vea el tidal wave,’ ‘el ferry cuando cruza,’and ‘ el Quarry esta jampacked.’  There’s also a sense of community and enjoyment of life despite the inconveniences.


I hope Susan enjoyed her ‘pollito al Piri-Piri!’   

Poetry Competition 2023

Llanito Category Highly Commended

“School life as a Llanito” by Isabella Villa


8:00am it’s time for school

My class thinks that they rule

“Que pasa bro!” Eve1yone says

But me and my friends just want to go to bed


The bell rings, it’s time for our first lesson

We say hello to the pigeons, Pepe and Nelson


The bell rings again, it’s time for break

Sometimes good people give out cake

The teachers say vamo and don’t be late


After English and Maths it’s time for lunch

Children come running to eat their Monster Munch

Que weno, torta patata too I see

But that’s just way too much for me


More lessons, we learn about food

We make Calentita and it tastes so good!


The school day is over everyone goes home

And sometime soon, I will be alone


At 8 o’clock the sun goes down

There’s nobody else left in town


The sky is dark and the oceans grey

Levante for tomorrow so they say



Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:


Isabella Villa with School life as a Llanito.  Though not overtly Yanito, Isabella’s poem about a day in a local school sounds natural, relaxed and very genuine.  The infrequent use of Yanito probably reflects the slow erosion of our peculiar mix of English and Spanish.  Linguists bemoan the slow disappearance of Yanito and Isabella’s poem shows the predominance of English among most of our school pupils.  However, ejaculations like ‘que pasa bro!’ and ‘que weno’ are still defiantly Yanito and are examples of how emotional outbursts tend to be in Yanito.  The two pigeons, Pepe and Nelson, the teacher with ‘vamo’ and the ‘calentita’ are quintessentially Gibraltarian and convey the Yanito culture. 


It’s heartening to see a school pupil trying her hand at writing a Yanito poem.  Well done!

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 11-13 Winner

“The Girl from Judea” by Eva De Vincenzi


The river’s tide was out.

she walked along the flat seabed,

Feeling the sand as it hugged

The soft curve of her feet.

her eyes met the horizon,

The edge of the universe

That was already trapped within her,

And she closed them,

As the sun rose in the orange of her eyelids

And the wind breathed its hymn

through a flutter of wings.


You, girl from Judea,

You have been chosen as the immaculate.

Do not be afraid.


For an eternity she carried the Messiah within herself,

Afraid despite the words of Gabriel,

Wondering why this distant father

Could not even give her His name.


You, girl from Judea,

Can you really be what you say?


But she was, and from her womb He slid,

Covered in glistening red and unshaken by His arrival.




But the agony of birth was not all.

Then came motherhood.


she cared for her boy, that God who suckled,

Until He became a man and grew a carpenter’s hands.


It was for those hands that she wept

As the nails burst through them,

And the water dripped from the heart that had grown within her,

The third thief from Golgotha


You, girl from Judea,

Is it true you must now live forever?

Must you lose your children always?

Must you remain a parent still?


For you are the mother of us all now, Mariam,

And you must remain alone in your sandless valley of heaven,

Frozen in stained glass and alabaster,

Until the hour of your death.




Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


“Eva de Vincenzi with The Girl from Judea.  The writing of religious verse can easily degenerate into cliché and sentimentality. What can one say about the teachings of religion which hasn’t already been rehearsed a thousand times? 


However, Eva’s The Girl from Judea takes a fresh look at the figure of Mary and creates a truly wonderful picture of a young Judean girl caught up in an impenetrable mystery.  She is an unapologetically Jewish Mary, who gives birth to a Jewish baby, Yeshua, and is called Mariam (or Miriam).  The poem wears its theological message lightly, avoiding any dogmatic preaching.  Paradoxically, Mary is both virgin and mother, intimidated by Gabriel’s enigmatic words, yet confident she has been in some strange way chosen. 


The young carefree girl described walking along the sands transforms into the sorrowing mother, weeping for the ‘third thief of Golgotha’-what a phrase to refer to Jesus!  She becomes the ‘mater dolorosa’ of the famous hymn.    


This poem deserves a very special accolade. The young girl from Judea becomes, tragically, the image unfeelingly reproduced in many churches.   Eva has shown exceptional maturity in conceiving and executing this marvellous poem.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 11-13 Runner-Up

“Chess” by Chava Bayles


32 white squares, 32 dark squares.

King; queen; pawn.

Equal rows of peace, calm.

The game hasn’t begun.


The weaker ones are pushed first,

Then the more powerful ones appear.

They form stonewalls, fortresses, create outposts,

Always staring stonily, silently;


Fearing for their lives

But never daring to show it.

The king, he hides.

Castled, safe,


While his queen

And all his subjects

Pace tirelessly;

Threatening, attacking, controlling.


Strategy, tactics-

A battle for power.

They fight without weapons

But forever shielded.


Until suddenly,

A blunder on the board;

The shield is slashed, shattered, splintered,

And the queen is gone,


Hurled off the board,

Heaped on the forgotten pile

Of soldiers that she’d sacrificed

For her own safety.


Resignation looms, but

Slowly, steadily,

A pawn inches forward.

Unnoticed, until it becomes a queen,


For only a pawn can promote.

The pieces which had once assumed prestige

Are abandoned

While She whizzes around


Until, finally,

The enemy’s king is exposed.

Helpless. Trapped.




Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Chava Bayles with Chess.  Chess has always exercised a fascination over philosophers, intellectuals and thinkers in general.  On the chessboard the pieces move according to a strict pattern, but the plan of attack or defence is entirely up to the individual players. 


Chava’s poem creates the suspense before the game starts: the serried rows of pawns, the Manichean layout of the board, with the black and white squares representing the good and evil which mingle in the universe.  The pressure rises as the more threatening pieces commence their manoeuvres.  The heavy alliteration in ‘stonewalls…always staring, stonily, silently’ conveys precisely the relentless march of rooks, bishops and knights. 


The queen wreaks destruction but falls victim when ‘the shield is slashed’ and a player commits a blunder.  Resembling a real battlefield (after all, what is enacted on the chessboard is a bloodless battle) the ‘dead’ are piled up, defeat seems imminent, but unnoticed, a pawn has reached the enemy’s territory and is crowned a queen.  The enemy’s king is now exposed and, as Chava beautifully puts it, ‘Helpless. Trapped. Defeated.’-the three words show the relentless stages in the king’s encirclement.  What a wonderful re-creation of a game of chess: clever, exciting and showing a deep appreciation of this fascinating game.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 11-13 Highly Commended

“A Tapestry of Golden Moments”  by Shanaya Marie Sheriff 


In the golden embrace of autumn’s reign,
Nature’s canvas paints a breathtaking terrain.
Leaves, like fiery embers, ignite the trees,
A kaleidoscope of hues that dances in the breeze.

The air grows crisp, a gentle chill in the morn,
As summer’s warmth gracefully takes its final form.
A symphony of rustling leaves fills the air,
Whispering secrets, as if nature’s secrets to share.

Pumpkins adorn doorsteps, their smiles wide,
Harvest’s bounty, a feast for eyes and pride.
Scents of cinnamon and apple fill the air,
Inviting cosy moments, with loved ones to share.

As daylight wanes, the stars shimmer bright,
Guiding us through the tranquil autumn night.
A time of reflection, as nature slows its pace,
Reminding us of life’s fleeting embrace.

So let us revel in autumn’s splendid grace,
Embrace its beauty, in every time and space.
For in this season, we find solace and delight,
As nature’s masterpiece unfolds, in colours so bright.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Shanaya Marie Sheriff with A Tapestry of Golden Moments.  A piece celebrating autumn must steer clear of the well-worn clichés we all associate with the melancholy season. 


Keats’s ‘season of mist and mellow fruitfulness’ is the subject of Shanaya’s enchanting meditation. The lines have a painterly quality which appeal to all the senses: ‘golden embrace’ (touch); ‘symphony of rustling leaves’ (hearing); ‘scents of cinnamon and apple’(smell); ‘stars shimmer bright’ (sight).   There is an abundance of colours, a kaleidoscope of hues: fiery embers, stars shimmer bright.  The poem creates a welcoming atmosphere, inviting, homely, nostalgic and celebratory.


After reading Shanaya’s poem we ask like Keats, ‘Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?’  Autumn has its own special music, and this poem is part of the symphony Shanaya mentions.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 11-13 Runner-Up

“Chess” by Chava Bayles


There are facets to me I tuck in perpetual orbit

A never-ending cycle of heightening melancholy

By virtue of knowing that no matter what parts

I could pick and choose, replace with a discontented lie


It will never be enough for everybody


I have tried consistently, from time to time

To enclose the door of dissatisfaction, of resentment

In hopes that one day, everyone could learn to love for what I am

Yet there has always been a defect


Because it will never be enough for everybody


Nothing will be enough to appease the world at large

Regardless of what is claimed to be the standard of beauty

Personality, weight, lack of weight, straight hair, curly hair

A circle destined to rotate boundlessly, unrestrained

Continuously altering unachievable elegance

Limiting beauty to untruthful magazines

Women, men, those who define themselves outside of the binary

Everyone will determine themselves unworthy of love at one point

Longingly grasping at any potentiality to make a living

Consequently losing oneself under public influence

What does one say when they can no longer recognize who they were?

When they feel as though their reflection is a stranger?

How does one respond when all of who they once were ceases to be?

Unable to be restored?

One cannot.

There are parts to each person that they will declare unfit to be seen

To express openly with pride

There are parts to everyone that they feel would demolish their aspirations

Along with how others perceive them

Though, you will one day learn to live with them

You will one day learn to love

Your insecurities, your “imperfections”


And true friends and family will admire you for who you are

The people who will hold you close to their heart despite everything

Because it will never be enough for everybody

But it can grow to be enough for you.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


“Our self-image has become increasingly central to our self-esteem.  We are continually bombarded by the media with paragons of so-called beauty, femininity, virility, strength, elegance, and power.  The young especially are expected to conform to these unrealistic ideals. 

Kyrene’s poem is a bold statement that we must accept ourselves as we are; reject the false models and ‘learn to love’ our ‘imperfections.’ How many adolescents especially have miscarried when they have been unable to match up to the glamorous pictures touted by TV, magazines and social media?  

Kyrene wisely states we must stop trying to live by standards set by others.  If we are true to ourselves and those who truly appreciate us, then we have a chance of happiness and fulfilment.  This poem should be required reading for all those who are facing the challenges posed by the onslaught of ersatz glitter and fabricated charm of the film industry and entertainment.”

Poetry Competition 2023

 School Years 8-10 Winner

“The Missing Charm” by Miriam Natasha Ramagge


I am the missing charm on the bracelet,

The owl,

The panda,

The cheetah,

The Hyena,

The Vampire.

I am the invisible charm,

The lost link,



They all giggle,

Their elbows hit my chest as they push me away.

Mocking glances as I sit alone on the bus,

Snide stares as I eat at an empty table,

A ghost girl sits in my seat,

Hyenas prefer to laugh in a pack,

A solitary laugh is only a cry.

Even my diary tells my secrets,

The china doll on my wardrobe waiting to tell,

Her rosy lips frozen in place,

I have no one to trust.


The missing thread in the plait,






I am the invisible string,

The lost thread,



My words are there but there is no mouth to tell them,

The missing charm lies between my absent words,

An empty space but nobody wants it filled,

No body to make my excuses.

Even the meanest wolf hunts in a pack,

My invisible friend refuses to hold my hand.

I am a disease,

But is isolation contagious?


Not invisible.

Only forgotten,

But nobody wants to remember.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Miriam Natasha Ramagge with The Missing Charm.  Even though we are all connected in the twentieth-first century, many of us suffer from some kind of loneliness or feelings of worthlessness or rejection.  Miriam’s poem is a powerful statement of isolation.  Her speaker feels rejected, invisible, unvalued, and extremely solitary.  The animals in the first stanza are either ungregarious or avoided by others.  The feeling of being unwanted and unacknowledged reaches a climax when the speaker says, ‘a ghost sits in my seat.’  Even the less attractive animals hunt in packs and share food.  


This poem is full of heart-rending images which reflect a deep feeling of being unwanted and exiled from the human family.  Miriam has succeeded in conveying the morbid solitude which has undermined the person’s self-esteem and made her into the ‘missing charm on the bracelet.’   A very mature poem for someone Miriam’s age. Well done!

Poetry Competition 2023

 School Years 8-10 Runner-Up

“Life” by Maiah Mifsud


Life is like a rollercoaster ride

Full of ups and downs, side to side

Sometimes it’s confusing, sometimes it’s fun

But in the end, we always find the sun


Friend and family, they mean the world

Through good and bad they’re always there

We laugh, we cry, we make memories fly

In all this craziness, one must be aware


Dream big, reach high

Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and fly

Embrace challenges, learn from mistakes

Life is an adventure, so get what you can take


Live each day with a smile

Cherish the moments, embrace life’s meaning

I’m growing up and living each day

Without looking back once


Life is like a puzzle with missing pieces

Each piece shapes our heart and mind

Finding passions, find your groove

Growing up is an adventure I still have to prove




Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Maiah Mifsud with Life.  This is a poem with a clear, resounding message: think big, aim high, and ‘spread your wings and fly.’   We don’t usually like poems which preach, but Maiah’s is so enthusiastic and sincere that we don’t mind the slightly hectoring tone.  Enjoying life requires determination to overcome mistakes, avoid being stuck in the past and, after suffering, we shall again ‘find the sun.’  The four-line stanzas are well handled, and the language is concise and clear.  An inspired and inspirational poem.  Well done!

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 6-7 Winner

“Echoes of the Wilderness” by Krishaa Lakhiani


Amidst the wild, a young heart finds its song,

A gal of twelve summers, bold and strong.


In nature’s arms, she seeks a path untrod,

To find herself, a soul still touched by God.


The forest whispers secrets to her ear,

As ancient trees stand tall, both sage and seer.


Through rustling leaves, she hears a whispered call,

To learn, to grow, to stand both proud and tall.


She treads the trails where rivers gently glide,

And there, within their depths, she seeks to bide.


The water’s mirror reflects her searching gaze,

A journey inward, through life’s tangled maze.


With every step, the mountains rise and fall,

A metaphor for life, she heeds the call.


The summit calls, she scales the peaks so high,

To touch the sky, to reach and touch the sky.


She learns the lessons nature has to teach,

As sun and moon their silent wisdom preach.


The stars above, like dreams, they brightly gleam,

Guiding her on her path, a boundless dream.


With every dawn, she finds a new sunrise,

A chance to see the world through wiser eyes.


The wilderness, a mentor, kind and true,

Unfolds the world, reveals what’s deep and true.


In solitude, she finds her inner peace,

A sense of purpose, sweet and bittersweet.


The wild, a canvas, where she leaves her mark,

A coming of age, a journey through the dark.


Through trial, error, triumphs, and mistakes,

She learns what life in nature undertakes.


Oh, young woman, embrace the wild and free,

For in its arms, you’ll find what’s meant to be.


In nature’s grandeur, you will come to see,

Your self-discovery, your destiny.


So, let the forest guide your youthful heart,

A rite of passage, where your dreams can start.


In the embrace of nature, pure and wide,

You’ll find the truth, the purpose deep inside.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Krishaa Lakttiani with Echoes of the Wilderness.  This poem is word-perfect and impeccably structured.  It is really a ‘bildungsroman,’ a piece of writing about growing up, becoming educated, and acquiring maturity.  The ‘gal of twelve summers’ undertakes a journey of self-discovery, emotional and intellectual growth, and firmly believes in the romantic idea that nature is a benign teacher who can enlighten and inspire.  Wordsworth would have approved of these sentiments, though we have discarded such a kind view of nature and see her as impersonal and unconcerned about human thriving.  


Krishaa must have laboured hard and long to come up with nineteen stanzas with perfect rhymes.  The poem’s message is clear: let nature guide you and you will acquire wisdom, knowledge and happiness.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 6-7 Runner-Up

“What has happened to Wendy?”  by Adam Zbigniew Viñales


What has happened to Wendy, Mother?

What has happened to Wendy?

There’s nothing in her bed but her teddy bear

And by its side a penny.


Why are her arms wide, Mother?

Both of them flapping free,

And only a tape on her dusty cheek

Where’ her red spot used to be.


Why do you turn around, Mother?

And why does the tape just fall?

And why do you put that candle on the beach

And say it is not for Wendy at all?


I woke to Dad calling us last night.

I heard that Wendy was going to die.

Why do you tell me the things I heard

Was Wendy going: AIIE?


I heard Wendy cry, Mother,

In anger or in pain,

But now I ask you why, Mother,

You say it was a scream of vain.


Why do you wander about as though

You don’t know what-to do?

What has happened to Wendy, Mother?

What has happened to Wendy?



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


“Adam Zbigniew with What has happened to Wendy?  This poem has the unsettling ambiguity of some of the most disturbing nursery rhymes.  Is Wendy a girl, a doll, a revenant, a mere projection of the speaker’s unconscious?  Why is her bed empty?  Has Wendy been maltreated, assaulted, bruised (that tape ‘on dusty cheek’ could hide a haematoma).  The repetition of ‘What has happened to Wendy’ is insistent and upsetting. There is something manic about it and creates a feeling of despair and hopelessness.  The ‘AIIE’ expresses the pain and anger that drive the poem.  Adam has created a nightmare poem which will puzzle many readers and make them wish they never come across Wendy!

Poetry Competition 2023

 School Years 6-7 Highly Commended

“The Tale of the Proud Robin Redbreast” by Lilly Alfred


In the sunny forest, filled with moss and greens,

Sat a little robin, happy as can be,

For his name was Starling, and proud of himself was he,

As he had the most magnificent voice ever to be seen!


And – oh – he sure did know this, for his voice was heard for hours,

Singing loudly on and on that it wilted flowers,

But all the animals would groan and grumble,

For all the singing that Starling did made them horribly sour!


One day the animals decided enough was enough,

‘Just stop singing of we’ll kick you out’ they all said with a huff,

But – for Starling – this was quite tough,

For he loved to boast and bluff!


So, Starling kept on chirping,

And all the animal’s ears never did stop hurting,

Making them all mutter under their breaths, cursing,

But all except a clever fox known as Christopher Turing!


As I said before, Chris was a clever fox,

He had once made a trap with only string and a box,

So he hatched a witty little plan to get the bird to shut up,

And if it worked peace and tranquility would never stop!


So Turing set off to Starling’s tree,

A place the bird would always be,

Then called out to Starling, ‘Stirling, my dear, come down you clever chap’ ‘For I have a special treat for you, right under my cap!’


Starling fluttered down from a twig,

Right into a place where Turing would dig,

When Turing – that clever fox – covered Starling in a net he had brought, And now silly Starling had been properly caught!


Turing brought Starling into his lair,

A secret hideout used by the first known mayor,

Down there was the smell of a boiling pot

For Starling was about to become a robin broth!


The fox cooked the bird (his feathers plucked, of course) so that was that,

And the boastful robin’s story was needed with a splat,

So, to all the proud people in this world,

Please do not end your life like that of that silly old bird.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Lilly Alfred with The Tale of the Proud Robin Redbreast.   From the time of Aesop, animal fables have exercised their fascination and provided admonitory lessons for human beings.  Lilly’s poem falls within this tradition, with the Robin representing pride, boastfulness, and a lack of concern for others.   Robin ignores the pleas of his feathered friends and carries on chirping annoyingly. Then, as we expect, nemesis appears in the form of a wily fox.  The robin falls for the fox’s smooth talk, flies down from his branch, and ends up in a pot, reduced to ‘robin broth.’  The poem is beautifully crafted with nine four line stanzas and alternating rhymes of abba, ccdc, eeee………(it would take too long to cover the whole poem), but Lilly has taken pains to keep the rhyme going and fresh.  An interesting poem with a salutary morale.

Poetry Competition 2023

 School Years 6-7 Highly Commended

“The Quarry” by Maleah Marie Akuma


My happy place is The Quarry

Playing in the sun.

Jumping off the pier

Having lots of fun.


My favourite place is The Quarry

Swimming in the sea,

In the ice cold water

Try to catch me.


My happy place is The Quarry

My favourite place to be.

Diving in the pool

Feeling fresh and free.


My favourite place is The Quarry

Building castles in the sand.

Playing with my sister

Getting a sun tan.


My happy place is The Quarry

It’s nearly time for tea.

I hear a whistle blowing

The milhoja is waiting for me.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


“Maleah Marie Akuma with The Quarry.  This is a charming celebration of the many delights found in Camp Bay during the summer months.  Each stanza starts with one of two lines: ‘My happy place is the Quarry’ and ‘My favourite place is the Quarry.’  This makes the poem a hymn to the speaker’s favourite beach.  The poet embraces all the activities we associate with a beach: swimming, diving, building sandcastles, having tea with a ‘milhoja,’ playing football, eating ‘pinchitos’.   The speaker ends up exhausted and yearning for bed.  Simple, but very attractive and full of oomph.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 4-5 Winner

“Mischievous Max” by Ashton John Lewis


In Gibraltar, a funny place,

Lived a pet with a furry face.

A monkey named Max, so full of glee,

Swinging from trees, wild and free.


With a tail that curled and eyes so bright,

He caused quite a hilarious sight.

In Gibraltar’s rock, he made his abode,

A mischievous monkey, on freedom he rode.


Max would steal hats from tourist heads,

And dance on the rooftops, it’s been said.

With a mischievous grin and a playful chime,

He’d munch on bananas, a pastime sublime.


Tourists chuckled, tried to chase him away,

But Max was determined to laugh and play.

In Gibraltar’s streets, he was a star,

The funniest pet by near and far.


So, if you visit this rock by the sea,

Look out for Max, as happy as can be.

In Gibraltar’s heart, where laughter’s the law,

Max the monkey will leave you in awe!



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Ashton John Lewis with Mischievous Max.  The macaques are a great tourist attraction; they have also become emblematic of Gibraltar.  However, they can be too playful and sometimes even dangerous.  Our Max is a typical macaque: swinging from tree to tree; dancing on rooftops and munching bananas.  But he also grabs unsuspecting people’s possessions and can behave outrageously.  Ashton’s poem concentrates on Max’s love of fun and playfulness.  This is a kind view of our monkeys, but we must bear in mind they are still wild animals and can pose a threat to human beings.  A chatty, relaxed, entertaining poem which paints an attractive picture of our macaques.

Poetry Competition 2023

 School Years 4-5 Runner-Up

“The lonely kid in my street” by Harriet Caulfield


The boy in my street likes eating

Ice cream in the sun.

He finds playing fun

He may be different then,

You and I.But everyone

Deserves a chance

To shine.

If you need a friend

You count on me

To the end.

We could change the


If you have a

Heart you will do your


Friends are make your life better.

If your angry or sad

Your friends your will make you glad

Will always make you glad.



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Harriet Caulfield with The lonely kid in my street.  A short poem about a child who is different from others, but who deserves a chance to shine.  The speaker reassures the ‘lonely kid’ that he will always be there for him.  He also offers him his friendship unconditionally and claims that together they ‘could change the world.’   Friends cheer you up and make your life much more bearable.  This trust in the important role friends play in our lives is encouraging and comforting.”

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 4-5 Highly Commended 

“Helicopter” by Oliver Gear


Hovering high up above

Enormous blades spinning in the air

Law enforcement’s bird in the sky

lnfrared vision, so nothing escapes

Criminals’ worst nightmare, nowhere to hide

Operation “Find them”

People look like ants far below

Trees swaying in the downdraft

Excitement of the chase, we’ve got them

Returning back to earth, mission accomplished.


Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Oliver Gear with Helicopter.   The Vietnam war saw the ‘chopper’ come into its own.  Helicopters now have multiple uses, including controlling traffic and dousing fires.  Oliver’s poem concentrates on the use of a helicopter to track down criminals.  ‘Law enforcement’s bird in the sky’ combines the law hunting down malefactors, the duty to apply the law, and the speed and manoeuvrability of a bird. Oliver is aware of how versatile the helicopter is though he homes in on one specific operation and praises the success of this mission.  A concise poem which reflects the writer’s admiration for this means of transport and its use as a means of attack.

Poetry Competition 2023

School Years 4-5 Highly Commended 

“September” by Max Jose Correia


S ummer ends and school begins

E arly nights and less time for screens

P acked bags and shiny shoes

T rying hard to follow the rules

E ducation every day

M aths to learn and sums to do

B ack to friends and breaktime fun

E veryone is tired at first

R eading books and learning words



Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:


Max Correia with September.  September is the title of this poem; it is also the word spelt out by the opening letter of each line.  Max plunges into school life, when summer days are  waning and nights come early.  Now is the time for learning, following rules, reading and doing Maths.  But there are compensations: mingling with friends, enjoying breaktime and trying to look smart.  As we get older, we forget how overwhelming our school experience was and how it probably shaped our lives.  Max’s poem is a reminder of this phase in our lives.