Hay Writers – Highly Commended

Following on from the success of our Poetry Competition winners, we are delighted to detail the work of two highly commended entrants.

Many congratulations to Helen Smith for her poem ‘frameless’, and to Mark Bayliss for his poem “Reunited”; both gained honourable mentions from our poetry judge, Dr Jack MacGowan. Their poems and the judge’s comments are listed below.

frameless by Helen Smith

his photo

crouches on the mantlepiece

between orange-scented candles

and a carriage clock

no frame, curling edges

paled by the sun

I remember so little now

memories slipping

river-smooth silk between

shaking fingers

I barely recognise as my own

but I remember the day I birthed him

slick and screeching

sea-blue eyes

that turned, with the years

to shadow

I stagger

to unsteady feet

that carry me, by the tick of the clock

to grasp his face

smooth the dust

that covers long forgotten colours

and the salt sting on my cheek

is nothing but the fog

that rolls in

from the sea

and still it takes the legs

from under me

photo falls to the flame

as I taste the tide

that will surely come, with the moon

to steal his name

from my tongue

Commendation: frameless

“I was struck by frameless and would like to offer it a special commendation for the poignancy it elicits as well as the care that has clearly been taken in its composition. I have a weakness for poems that latch the door closed tight at the end, and this poem is a fine example of how to stick the landing (if the author will excuse such a mixed metaphor).”

Reunited by Mark Bayliss

Made whole, rejuvenated, is this place for real

Ethereal topography, sensory, surreal

Cold and darkness extinguished, sunshine and warmth prevailing

Hard to articulate, inner calm and peace entailing

Happiness and contentment, both partying with my soul

The time’s arrived, relief at last, nothing more to control

Optimism and hope, since discovering my destiny

My confidence undaunted, evident for all to see

I wondered if they’d take me when I knocked on heaven’s door

An open arms acceptance, and a green light to explore

Anticipation, trepidation, questions soon resolved

I’m feeling tranquil, intrigued, and undoubtedly absolved

Sadly, it’s been chaotic, there’s an endless human stream

Of course, no one’s ever ready, to go and ‘join the team’

We know it’s not discerning, and not all of us immune

Waiting, praying, most are hoping, it’s ‘maybe no time soon’

Hints of recognition, old friendly faces they appear

A familiar form emerges, elegantly drawing near

Young, happy, beautiful, unmistakably no other

Decades have passed, yes it’s her, hands reaching out, my mother

Commendation: Reunited

“I would like to offer a special commendation to Reunited for the author’s bravery in tackling rhyming couplets and by and large pulling them off with aplomb. I was also moved by the way plaintiveness slowly but surely becomes comfort across the length of the poem. There is always a timeliness to poems that explore the different and complex qualities of grief, and this poem is certainly no exception.”

If you are asking yourself if it’s good to enter writing competitions, consider this…

“You get noticed, get money (or other prizes), and you can put the win on your writing CV. A deadline and word count are often good motivators to write. You’re often in with a chance to be published. The competitive element can be inspirational.” (quote dystopianstories.com)

If you didn’t win don’t worry, there is often useful feedback given which you can use in the future. Want to try something new? Entering a competition is also a great way to experiment with your form and style.

As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained‘. Why not dip you toe in the competition waters and see where the current takes you.


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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