Nigerian Poet, Ojo Taiye, Wins 2021 Hay Writers Circle Poetry Competition.

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2021 Annual Poetry Competition as judged by the wonderful Melanie Prince (ably assisted by Chris Prince), of The Poetry Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye.

Chris and Melanie Prince, The Poetry Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye.

This year we had a deluge of entries and we must thank our diligent judge for all the time spent reading these poems, writing the report and finally, selecting our winners.
Thank you Melanie and Chris.

Without further delay, here are the results.

1st Prize – Conspiracy of Silence / Moira Camp: The New Colossus / Let Me Tell You a
Different Story / Listen (sequence poems) by Ojo Taiye

2nd Prize – A bigger Splash by Stewart Roberts

3rd Prize – Olive Harvest by Ange Grunsell


Ojo Taiye photo c/o

Along with the accolade of coming first, Ojo Taiye receives the £100.00 prize for his winning poem, which this year has been kindly sponsored by Emma van Woerkom.

Emma writes, “There’s been a fantastic response to the Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition this year. Once again, Hay-on-Wye has crossed international boundaries, bringing together a diverse array of exciting new voices. It’s always my absolute pleasure to promote poetry. Many congratulations to Ojo and all our Poets, whose words are worth their weight in gold.”

Judge’s comments:

“How wonderful there were so many entries; so many different ways of looking through
language at the world. Although this obviously made our choice so much more

If we haven’t picked your poem, please remember we are booksellers & readers
only, & not professional critics. We have chosen as we have, not because we believe
there is a right or wrong, but, simply in the subjective terms of personal taste.

3) Olive Harvest 2016
We enjoyed this powerful present tense narrative poem but felt it is, for us, ironically
weakened by the anthropomorphic opening & closing sections. Basil Bunting famously
advised “Never explain – your reader is as smart as you”. Certainly if you read it
without them, the title strapline hangs like a black cloud over the poem’s idyll.

2) A Bigger Splash
With an excellent title & rug-pull denouement, this light, witty poem sustains its humour
& allegorical tone as well as an economic descriptive clarity throughout. Although in
the end we decided otherwise, & I hope the poet will forgive us for this; we were both
agreed it would have been a worthy winner.

1) Conspiracy of Silence / Moira Camp: The New Colossus / Let Me Tell You a
Different Story / Listen

Insisting upon our attention, struggling to make some fractured sense of exile & loss;
with their unexpected word choices & nascent scrum of images that clash or seem to
loom as if disembodied from the text, these concerned, questing poems, display a
potent combination of material & linguistic qualities.
Half-meanings, dislocation even posturing are part of the substance of such ambitious
& striving poetry. Readers must opt whether to engage with it &, make their own sense
of much, if they do.
Active reading of this kind can frustrate & reward in equal measure so will not be for
everybody. However, perhaps being caught up in the mesh of words that is a poem
actually is, for some, the whole idea & happens because what we want most is to be

Maybe, this strange, stalled life we have been enduring at one remove from a hollow
world without significance for any of us beyond our enforced absence from it, is
almost inevitably, more responsible for our choices than anything else? Be that as it may, in addition to their wordplay, we hope you find all three poets’ work
of real interest.

If you will forgive the plug! Reading as widely as possible is by far the most important
writing skill; allowing you to discover common ground with potential readers &, with it,
the possibility of creating resonant work.

Finally, we’d like to congratulate not only its winners, but all of you who entered.
Best of luck with your writing,

Melanie & Chris.

Some of the winning poems will be published in the coming weeks, but for now let’s all revel in the results!


About thehaywriters

The Hay Writers : a highly active & forward thinking writing group based in Hay-on-Wye, the world famous 'Town of Books'. ✍️ In 2019 we celebrated our 40th anniversary.
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