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Poetry on the Lake

19th International Competition 
opens 1st November 2018
closes 31st March 2019

 Silver Wyvern (open) category 
we are delighted that poet, songwriter and broadcaster
Paul Henry
will judge this category


open theme, any form, 
max 42 lines 
Prizes: SW€500   2nd: 200 

  Formal poem category (open theme, max. 42 lines): €100 
for traditional poetic forms: sonnet, sestina, villanelle etc 

Best poem any category  'Spirit' theme (interpret freely) €100 
Other prizes to winners present at award


Entries & Fees: please note the suggested fees below. All fees are donations to the competition costs, organisation and events of Poetry on the Lake. However, if you genuinely can't afford the fee, send one poem for nothing  (Those who can, please donate generously.)

: early bird (enter before 31st December): 
£ 5 or  8 a poem


UK: £10 first poem; further poems £6 each.
UK sterling cheques/BPOs only, payable to 
G. Griffin-Hall.   
ROW: €15 first poem; 2 or more, €10 each. Pay Paypal*

Send two copies of each poem, one anonymous, the other with contact details (and, if applicable, Paypal ID number) on back, to 

Poetry on the Lake - 28016 Isola San Giulio NO - Italy


 Pay Paypal*, note transaction ID, copy in body of email with contact details, subject of email 'Comp entry 2018' . Attach file/s with all poems preferably in one Word, .doc or .docx file (NOT pdf) named:  
YOUR NAME COMP 2018, send to 
poetryonthelake   AT  yahoo.co.uk  (close gaps and substitute @ for AT)

*Paypal: calculate total amount for entries then pay Paypal
(you don't have to have a Paypal account, Paypal accept credit cards)    account:
Click the Donate button below to access       


Usual competition rules apply:  
Poems must not have been printed or published (including on internet magazines, but ok if only on a personal or friend's blog with restricted access), nor have won a previous prize.
Entrants must be over 16 years old on 1st January 2018.

N.B.: Open category embraces all forms of poems providing they do not exceed 42 lines (title excluded); free verse, traditional or formal verse, short poems - anything goes!
Formal category: traditional verse forms: sonnets, sestinas,ballads,haiku (up to five haiku on one page count as one entry) villanelles etc or your own rhyming or metrical scheme. NOT free verse and just dividing a free verse poem into couplets without a rhyming or metrical scheme doesn't make for a Formal poem, just as a poem of 14 lines without a traditional metre and rhyme scheme 
isn't a sonnet.
guidelines: here 
The judges' decision is final.  
Do not send SAE.  
The same poem may be entered in two or more categories but will counts each time as a separate entry. A competitor may win 2 or 3 prizes, each in a different category, but no more than one prize in a single category,
Results on website June/July at latest, winners contacted earlier
Possible publication for winning and selected poems (we try to contact all authors first, although entry to the competition implies automatic permission to publish). Copyright remains with the author.

18th International Competition Results
closed midnight 15th April 2018

RESULTS 2018 - winning poems HERE

adjudicator Fred Johnston


Silver Wyvern 1st - My Dawtie  Jane Burn , County Durham                                                 

2nd - Dartmoor Snow  Sarah Barr, Dorset                                                              

3rd - The Topiary of Passchendaele Village  - Christopher North, Alicante, Spain     

HC - The Hard Rules of Seawater Abigail Ardelle Zammit, Lija, Malta

                                                                    HC - For the Mending Lani O' Hanlon, Sean Phobal, Ireland.                                

                                    HC -Rock Garden at Midnight  Scott Elder, Saint Priest des Champs, France                                      

judge's comment: 

THIS was my final shortlist – as you can see, 1,2,3 were selected from this. It was difficult to arrive at a shortlist, as overall, the quality and standard of the submitted poems was very high. It was clear even after a first reading that the authors were acquainted with poetry, that they knew the difference between poetry and prose, which is not always a predictable occurrence. I would certainly have to commend strongly the poems on the shortlist which were not eventually ‘placed.’ If one were editing a poetry journal, there could hardly be any objection to publishing these. In the end, however, a decision had to be reached.


Comments on the individual winning and shortlisted poems to follow.

FORMAL category:  max 40 lines
 for traditional set rhyme and/or metric patterns only
Adjudicator Kevin Bailey, founder/editor HQ Poetry Magazine

1st - Anne Ballard, Edinburgh Aubade
2nd - Peter Duff, Co. Dublin If I don't burn
HC - Peter Duff, Co.Dublin Sleep
HC - Belinda Weir, Lancaster It's a wondeful life
HC - Janet Lees, Isle of Man Wake up and smell the coffee

SHORT POEMS: max. 10 lines
Adjudicator Kevin Bailey, founder/editor HQ Poetry Magazine

1st - Maggie Butt. London Now I must be
2nd - Natalie Whittaker, Kent Winter landscape with skaters
HC - Ian Royce Chamberlain Certificate PG

1st The Longest Day – Roger Elkin

2nd At Bagno Vignoni – Sean Martin

HC -The Proposition, 1933 - Stephanie Green

Shortlisted (in random order) - On preparing to lie about 2001, A Space Odyssey - Rebecca BilkauOn the screen – Jenna PlewesLyric – 2 shillings and nine pence - David SmithThe Alhambra Picture PalaceSusan AtkinsBreakfast with Bogart – Victor Tapner; Casablanca – Andrew Robinson
Before the Talkies – 
Gary Bills

Kevin Bailey said: there are three here that are of equal merit: The Longest Day, At Bagno Vignoni and The Proposition...  and At Bagno Vignoni is good and cerebral... So I suppose, by a sliver I'd go for The Longest Day - a good clear poem and human... followed by At Bagno.



Silver Wyvern winner: Toby Campion, Leicester


When he called me a faggot   


I did not blink 

but my mouth filled with iron,

Grimsby’s chip cone and wooden forks,

rolling hills and land lock, call to prayer, seagull,

K-Swiss and Glenn’s and The Old Horse

and the tired tongue of the M69 and my overworked father,

funeral faces, steel cap, cousin’s knee, my broken nose

and the quarry and its chains and the ore it used to pour

over our Rice Crispies and Churchgate,

Maryland Chicken and free entry before 11

and bottles tossed into dancing crowds and lips

greeting glass with crimson splutterings of hallelujah

and Nickesh and me and Reece and me

and Reece’s broken tiara

and the 8:24 to Pendlebury Drive

and savages born of boredom, abandoned Co-ops

and Mecca Bingo, the graffiti on the back of our livers

and wash brook, mud dumps

and the boy who got snatched,

and a classroom in veiled in black lace, chewing gum

sticking eyelashes together and my hand on his leg

and keep your gaze forward lads

and his hand in my mouth

and or what or what or what


and my new friends said,

we have never see you like that before


and I said,

no, you have never seen me.



Ist Formal category:  Deidre Parkes   County Carlow Ireland 

We found an unexploded mine that day  


We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away. 

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn't ours to keep?

We found an unexploded mine that day. 

There was no one there to warn us, to say 
how cold the water was, how deep. 
We wet our feet before we ran away. 

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep. 
We found an unexploded mine that day. 

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap. 
We wet our feet before we ran away. 

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.

We found an unexploded mine that day 
and wet our feet before we ran away.



1st Short poems: Sharon Black, Gardoussel, France




To enter naked is to feel no shock, no swift laceration –               

more a swallowing of the self, a softening

of edges by metallic tang and green.


It’s not to lose oneself but to find

one’s breasts, buttocks, sex

attentive and alive, each slow stroke upstream


a gift of walking to the part of us that’s lame,

a gift of sight to the part of us that’s blind.



17th Competition RESULTS

Silver Wyvern adjudicator Carol Ann Duffy
Theme Metal

adjudicators: Formal - Kevin Bailey ; Short - Oz Hardwick
all 3 adjudicators read all poems in his or her category


1st & Silver Wyvern - When he called me a faggot -  Toby  Campion, Leicester

2nd - The Mechanics of Love - Victoria Gatehouse, Halifax  

3rd - Metamorphic - Sally Douglas, Exeter  

Highly Commended

The Slave of Velazquez - Derek Sellen, Canterbury

The Regular Round - Helena Goddard, Tewkesbury

When the Rowan's Laden - Aileen Ballantyne Edinburgh

The woman who married an alchemist - Sarah Doyle   London

Wheelbarrow -  Sharon Black, Gardoussel, France

Aubade - Jeri Onitskansky, Barnet

Flame Test - Victoria Gatehouse, Halifax  

FORMAL POEMS adjudicated by KEVIN BAILEY, founder and editor of HQ Poetry Magazine 

1st - We found an unexploded mine that day. Deidre Parkes County Carlow, Ireland 

2nd - God of Love. Brian Kirk  Dublin  Ireland

3rd - The Judge's Wife. Anne Ballard  Edinburgh

HC - For my silent lover. Rebecca Farmer  London        

HC - Supercooling. Jennifer Sykriewicz  Haxby, York

C - Another Time.  Tim O’Leary  London

C - Her Blanket. Adele Cordner  Magor, Wales 

C - From a cab, not upon Westminster Bridge. Patrick B. Osada Warfield

C - Stonehenge. M. Lee Alexander  Williamsburg  USA    

C - For the day you turn to me and ask. NJ Hynes  London


SHORT (10 lines or under) CATEGORY adjudicated by OZ HARDWICK, Professor of English at Leeds Trinty University

1st -  River -  Sharon Black  Gardoussel, France

2nd - The Bomb Fell  -  Michael Swan, Oxford  

HC - In the Bathroom    Brian Clark York 

HC - Monkeys  –Fokkina McDonnel,  Manchester

HC - Something Harmless is Wrong  –Rebecca Titus,  Baltimore USA



Kevin Bailey says of the Formal poems ( i.e. poems following set forms, traditional or modern):

“Well, the judging wasn't easy. The bulk of course can be dismissed as 'worthy' but not particularly original or inspiring. My criteria are very simple – the best poems endure in the mind. Finally it was the poem I remember, the one that leaves an echo the following day, that wins.”

Oz Hardwick says of the Short poems:

I didn’t count them, but I guess there were around ninety or so poems in this category, which accounts for a lot of blank paper. So, the first question I asked of each poem was: does it sit there, minding its own business in the top left-hand corner, or does it spread out and make that sheet of paper its own? That’s what those little words do when they’re in just the right place, and maybe around a third of the submissions passed the audition after a few re-readings.

After a couple of weeks of travelling with this unruly little band, reading them in different places, at different times of the day or night, there were five that really settled down with me, often cropping up of their own accord when I wasn’t expecting them, long after I’d stopped reading. ‘In the Bathroom’ is a small monument, undemonstrative but solid, with very deep foundations; ‘Monkeys’ hold its pain inside, though you can read it in each small movement; ‘Something Harmless is Wrong’ pulls shapes from a dash and flourish. Ultimately, though, it came down to two completely contrasting poems. ‘The Bomb Fell’ is one of those poems that may initially be dismissed as ‘broken-up prose,’ yet is a perfect example of how far that is from the truth, with each line break exactly balanced to tip into the next for maximum effect.

In many ways, it’s impossible to compare the two, but it had to be done, and ‘River’ just came out on top. Bursting with sensory intensity, it is nonetheless beautifully controlled, focused, the negatives in the first line of each of the first stanzas moving into the almost meditational observation of self I those following, and finally resolving into the revelatory celebration of the final couplet. A wonderful example of what can be done with so few words when they’re the right words, in the right places.”




XVI  Poetry on the Lake International Competition for the Silver Wyvern:
 closed 30th April 2016   Theme 'STAR'
Anne Stewart - Kevin Bailey - Christopher North


Silver Wyvern: Sharon Black, France


1st Open Night at the Observatory - Pat Borthwick, Kirby Underdale  

2nd  Helen Keller Meets Charlie Chaplin on a Hollywood Film Set -  Jane Lovell, Rugby   & 3rd Red Shift – Malcolm Watson, Hull  

Highly Commended Leveller – Malcolm Watson, Hull    Last but Not Least – Chris Considine, Plymouth  

Starside  - Katherine Pierpoint, Harbledown Sweep – Pat Borthwick,  Kirby Underdale   

SHORTLIST (in random order) 

Nancy’s Star Turn – Alwyn Marriage, Guilford Agua Caliente 1978 – Malcolm Watson, Hull

The First Person to Like This – Robert Miles  Voyager 1 – John R.B. Arkinson, York

A Descent – Rosamund Taylor, Dublin An Old Gourmet Spices Up Love – Rebecca Bilkau 

GP’s Waiting Room – Victoria Field, Canterbury As Rarest Tanzanite – Rose Flint, Frome

Wobbles – Pat Borthwick, Kirby Underdale Five-ways – Annette Skade, Cork


Results Formal Category 

Winner:  212. The Star – Carolyn King, Isle of Wight


Highly Commended 

                 Mabel’s Strange Predicament – Michael Coy, Malaga, Spain  and      The star who fell to earth – Beverly Hughes, Cardiff, Wales


Shortlist (in random order):


 The Way Down – Alison Absolute, Stratford-upon-Avon.   Galileo Galilei – Carole Bromley, York.    Trapped – Jenna Plewes, Alvechurch Abandoned – A.C. Clarke, Glasgow.  How I Wonder What You Are – Michael Swan, Oxford.  
 Orphic Sonnet: Breaking the Rules – Andrew Robinson, Truro.     Astronomy – Michael Shann, London

Results Short poems category

Winner : Fire Pit – Sharon Black, Gardoussel, France 

Highly Commended:

2nd Duality- Rachel Plummer, Edinburgh      and   3rd Every Poet's Horoscope  – Brian Clark, York 

Short Listed: Neighbours - N.J. Hynes, London  The Last Bus – Sean Burke, Milan

                    A Star is Born – Elisabeth Rowe, Devon

and Special Mention for comic verse,  Psychoanalysis – Alison Absolute, Stratford-upon-Avon

XV International Competition for the Silver Wyvern : RESULTS

for his sonnet 'Cygnus'


OPEN category 
adjudicated by Robert Minhinnick

First: Paternal Relations by Anne Ballard, Hornsey 

Second: Blackcurrants by Hilary Elfick, New Zealand 


The Hunger – Rachel Plummer - Edinburgh

Leaving Gawdom by Night – Geraldine Clarkson, Leamington Spa

Long listed (in random order)

Dining with Father – Anne Ballard    Coupe De Foudre – Natalie Holborow

The 9.20 to Edale – Rob Miles   Small Hungers – Peter Mullineaux

La la la la etc – Peter Wyton     Salsa – Alwyn Marriage

Tomato Soup – Michael Swan     Meio, Ivy – Michael Swan  In Their Turn – Michael Swan

Collective Works of Nature – Brian Clark  The Inconstant Ones – Nancy Campbell 

Rosemary Music Paper
 – Rosie Shepherd    
Balthazar Bakery – Rosie Shepherd

Christmas Eve – Isabel Bermudez    La sobremesa – Isabel Bermudez           

Sleeping Venus in Love – Abigail Ardelle Zammit  Afflatus in my Home Town – Geraldine Clarkson

The Waiting – Seamus Harrington     The Disposition of the Sun – Tim O’Leary

Revisiting Shelagh’s Way – Roger Elkin…  Madame - Joan Michelson

Crumbs – Pat Borthwick   Another night in…-Sam Clayden

Silk Road – Elisabeth Rowe   Greek Salad – Josh Elroy    Summer – Graham Burcell


SHORT POEM category Adjudicated by Kenneth Steven

1st : Military Section, Royal College of Surgeons  -  Aileen Ballantyne, Edinburgh

2nd : Applestar  - Ann Drysdale Gwent
HC   Starfish  -   Rachel Plummer Edinburgh    A hillside -  Lizzie Fincham Brighton

The Road - Brian Clark York 
 A Treat by the Dockyard - Kay Cotton, Villebaudon, France

 category adjudicated by Kevin Bailey

Kevin Bailey

Ist : Opening Time - Michael J Woods Worcester 2nd Granny Smith -  June English, Kent 

Highly Commended (in random order)

Things You Have Slaughtered  - Virginia Astley   Time and Place - Barry Tempest

Fare - John Gallas    Papillon de Nuit – Elisabeth Sennitt Clough   Mayan Statue – A.C. Clarke 

Others in the final pile were Chinese Restaurant, Rome – Martin Bennett, - The Angel and the Saddlebacks - Anne Boileau; 
Losing Them – Anne Ballard; Bobby Sands’ Final  Sonnet – Richard Westcott; Ancient Pestle - A.C. Clarke


XIV International Poetry Competition 
adjudicators: Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker

adjudicated by Carol Ann Duffy
Ist to Virginia Astley, Dorchester for her poem Homecoming
2nd to Guy Russel, Milton Keynes, for From the Archipelago
Highly Commended: Rachel Plummer, Edinburgh, for Braid 

listed (in random order)

Snow in October –  Caroline Bostock; Perspectives double sonnet –  Derek Sellen;  No silver lining –  Camilla Lambert; 
Fog in the Dale –- Chris Considine; Swaledale snow – Chris Considine; Fountains Abbey –  Francis Harris; 
It never rained –Hugh Sullivan; Shopping List - Hazel Clark;

adjudicated by Gillian Clarke and Imtiaz Dharker

to Anne Stewart, Kent, for her poem 
Snow snow more cold lonely snow
2nd prize to Dorothy Yamamoto, Oxford for The Frost Fair
Highly Commended: Brigit Sivill, Normandy, for Variable weathers 
Rose Flint, Somersetfor Marking China Blue
Commended: Thelma Laycock, Leeds for Visits
Chris Considine, Plymouth, for An Arc 

Awards during the course of the XIV Celebration at Belgirate, Lake Maggiore 10th-12th October. Please see Festival page 

  Theme was 'Weather'    “Poets are always taking the weather so personally.”  
J.D. Salinger 

enquiries: poetryonthelake@yahoo.co.uk           

Poetry on the Lake XIII International Poetry Competition

The awards were presented at Villa Carlotta, Belgirate, 12th October, by the Mayor of Belgirate and the Assessore Claudia Buscher.


Adjudicators: Anne-Marie Fyfe, Imtiaz Dharker, Kevin Bailey
OPEN CATEGORY (376 poems entered)
FIRST PRIZE:: The Aftermath Inspector - Clare Best, Lewes, Sussex
SECOND PRIZE: Census - Christopher North , Alicante, Spain
Devon Tin - Oz Hardwick, York; My Favourite Knife - H.V.Goddard , Tewkesbury    
Morning LightWes Lee, Wellington, New Zealand, The PropertyJean Harrison, Settle.
A Roomful of CupboardsAngela Croft, London;      This Is What We DoMichael Swan, Oxford;
Cutting The PagesKathleen Kummer, Totness;       The Kitchen Cupboards - Gill Andrews , Edinburgh.
SHORT CATEGORY (138 poems entered)
FIRST PRIZE: Blind - Enda Coyle-Greene, Skerries, Ireland
SECOND PRIZE: The Peach Grower's Last Request - Susi Clare, Travedona Monate, Italy
The late air - Roberta James, London; Oh Careful, be Careful, Gill-Gallium - Diane E Cockburn, Durham; film - B.A.Morton, Jordanstown , N.Ireland
SHORTLISTED(in random order):
The Angel in My Underwear - Elaine Jarvest Miller ,Devon ;Silver bracelet - Faye Boland, Kenmare, Ireland; She is MercuryKate Dempsey,Maynooth,  Ireland;A fine amalgam - Camilla Lambert , Arundel;A Tin of Powder - Marie Naughton , Manchester;Swift as Quicksilver - Anne Boileau, Coggeshall; Sidi Bou Said - Lavinia Currier, USA ;The Man who brought Copper and Gold - Susi Clare, Italy;NightwindAnthony Watts,Taunton; Repeatability -Heidi Williamson , UK; Gallipoli - Liz Thompson, Oxford;Pram fall - Mia Timberlake, South Australia; shoaElsa Fischer, Switzerland; The Blues harp - Fran Reader,Woodbridge;Fire and Tin - Wes Lee, New Zealand; Portrait of the Mother as a Blue Jug - Anna Kisby,Brighton;After a death: A tenderness of thought - Wes Lee, New Zealand;Flensed -  Geraldine Mitchell, Ireland
FORMAL CATEGORY (124 poems entered)
FIRST PRIZE: Rigel HillWilliam Gilson, Cumbria.
SECOND PRIZE: BZH400Peter Duff, Ireland.
The Golden StairsSarah Doyle, London; Two birds for KabirMaitreyabandhu, London; John Keats’ Ring – Carole Bromley, York.
SHORTLISTED (in random order)
Special Mention to F&BCarole Bromley,York; Hillside at Grizzana Maitreyabandhu, London;Live fast, Die Young – Beverly Francis, Cardiff, Wales;Typeface Facelift – Lois Elaine Heckman, Milan, Italy; Ode to My Rhyming DictionaryChris O'Carroll, USA; The Smith’s Rejoinder to the Carpenter - Malcolm Watson, Hull;The Metal Detector -  Hilary Elfick, Cambridge; A Visit to a Military Ward - Don Nixon, Albrighton; Spending Time – Peter Duff, Ireland;Tea Break with Tin Mug – Enda Coyle-Greene, Ireland 
Results 2012
OPEN CATEGORY (272 entries)– adjudicator GILLIAN CLARKE
1st: Crows, Seaton Park – Wayne Price (Aberdeen) 2nd : Panther – Emma Harding
FORMAL CATEGORY (101 entries) – adjudicator CAROLE BALDOCK
1st: The Surrey Tiger Nick MacKinnon (Winchester)
2nd: A Letter from the Master of His Majesty’s Ship The Tiger, Aleppo 1606 Sarah Doyle (London)
1st:Cows in the Ashmolean – Dorothy Yamamoto (Oxford) 2nd : The Bear – Katrina Naomi (London

Poetry on the Lake 11th International Competition 2011- RESULTS

 The song of the woman who wanted a train
Diana Pooley, London
RUNNER-UP: Fossil record Wayne Price, Aberdeen
Lithium lovesongLydia Macpherson, Babraham  The Gift - Sharon Black, St André de Valborgne
 Black Book of WarwickLynne Wycherley, Kidlington   Sold - Pat Borthwick,  Kirby Underdale

WINNER: Inclined to envy woodliceChris Considine,
RUNNER-UP: Returning - Donna Pucciani,  Illinois , USA

And then;  
Gill McEvoy - Chester 
The place of stones - Tim O’Leary - London
Agata and aphrodisiac - Derek Sellen, Canterbury
The vixen - Susi Clare, Travedona Monate


WINNER: Laying the foundation stone -
Don Nixon, Albrighton
RUNNER-UP: Terra - 
Anne Ballard, Hornsey

Innocents awhirl -
Mira Mehta, London
A black-suited revolution - Peter Goulding, Dublin
New Year - A C Clarke, Glasgow
Days like trees - Polly Walshe, Oxford

YOUNG WYVERN (only for 2011)
we had no section for young poets but there were a number of under 16's who submitted poems to the main competition. So we decided to treat and judge them separately. We shall not accept entries from under 16s in 2012.

winner: Lamorna Tregenza-Reid (age 10) with 'Her Thinking Hand'


Panel of adjudicators:

Don Paterson chose the winners of all three categories from lists drawn up by
Anne Stewart and Oz Hardwick.

Results of competition 2010


James Harpur, Carole Baldock, Kevin Bailey

 The  Awards were presented by
H.M. Consul General Dr Laurence Bristow-Smith

on Saturday, 2nd October, in Sala Tallone, Isola San Giulio
during the course of the
10th International Poetry Celebration 1st-3rd October
Prizewinners who come in person also received, besides the cash prize, an object of design 'La stanza dello sciricco' awarded by Alessi


Silver Wyvern 2010

A Roman slave reflects on inevitability - Emma Harding,

Short poems

 Archetypes - Lucius Redman


Formal poems 
 An Ex Pat's Mediterranean Retirement Diary  & The Hospice at Cannes - Don Nixon


'From the Lake-side',  writing on Lake Orta: won by D.M. Thomas with 'Singing Along'