Poetry competition 2012 winners

Children's category, 15-17

The winner of the 15-17 age category is Hannah Rodger, whose poem The ‘Back-to-School' Blues was a real hit with the judges. Tristan Herbert’s assured poem Flow of the Seasons comes a close second.


The 'Back-to-School' Blues
by Hannah Rodger (17), Derbyshire

Hot July brought freedom, days to dream and rest
My hours unpunctuated by timetable and test.
The sun was my companion, benign, it warmed each week
My days were long and golden - the company - unique!

We walked where wheat grew bolden - it dared to stroke my face
And foolishly I thought that time would hold me in this space.
Now suddenly, dry, fallen leaves, they glide along the street
Cling to walls like long-lost friends - give sport to booted feet.

The air takes on an autumn chill - gone… soft, summer climes
And now damp mists begin to haunt those temperate, twilight times.
The lush, ripe fruits that captured the sweetness of my days
Are now usurped by nuts and haws that grow where cattle graze.

How swift the summer’s fading - lost in autumn mist
And how I long for halcyon days when gloom and grey desist.

And I’m singing the ‘back-to-school’ blues


Judges' comments

"A different and unusual view of the passing seasons as they mark the welcome holidays and inevitable return to school. I like the dry fallen leaves “giving sport to booted feet” and the nuts and haws in the hedgerows. Very visual." Pam Ayres

Runner up

Flow of the Seasons
by Tristan Herbert (16), Ceredigion

Fragile stems of grass quiver and sway, ghost-like in the cool spring air,
Broad bean seedlings sit in worn little pots, at the mercy of the old man’s care,
Ever since retirement he has pottered around his garden, spade in hand,
Enjoying the tranquil quiet of working his little patch of land,
With a gentle smile he has helped the weakest most fragile plants grow,
On cold winter days sitting by the fire he looks for something new to sow,
And in the sweeping heat of summer you will see him, covered in soil,
Digging away at some stubborn lumps of clay, never deterred by the toil,
Never deterred by the blisters, stiff joints and aching muscles, never pausing,
Even in autumn as the bountiful supply of fresh food slowly dwindles,
He does not give up,
The old man with wrinkled brow and snow white hair continues to potter here and there,
With a tender hand he picks the last of his crop, tomatoes, cucumbers and peas,
Along with many others, beetroot to the fridge, runner beans to freeze,
The seasons have changed once more, a breath of wind and winter is here,
Clouds swirl by and rain begins to fall in a vast wave of sound,
But soon spring will arrive once more,
Soon the old man shall again be in his garden,
In the endless flow of time, in the everlasting flow of the seasons.


Judges' comments

"I liked this old gardener very much, I’ve seen him on various allotments, or caught a glimpse of him in dusty sheds. I like the timelessness of the poem, and the way it conveys how much he cares about his plants." Pam Ayres



The prizes for the children’s category 15-17 were supplied by Faber. For more information on these books go to faber.co.uk/catalog/series/romantics/ for the Romantics Collection, or faber.co.uk/catalog/short-and-sweet/ for the Paperbacks collection.

Book covers: Lord Byron and Short and Sweet

Read more winning poems

Winners - adult category

Runners up - adult category

Winners - children 10 and under category

Winners - children 11-14 category