- The Prize-Winning Poems -

Winner:  Jackie Hinden



In Crane & Co. on the counter

amid the clutter of kettles and pots

a pumpkin grins.


Across the road a barrel organ

blocks Blaker’s park:  locked-up toilets,

shit boxes.


Beyond the comfortable concrete

grey, white-scutted sea

wrung-out sky.


Brittle leaves drift into the gutter,

lost souls trembling,



In Crane & Co. the pumpkin flame

flickers, dies.



The wind opens cracks

in the sullen sky

for souls to slip silently through.


Second Prize Winner:  Sue Gerrard


They called it the Witches' Tree

Which was good enough for me.

For as a child people talked and

Slyly smiled when they spoke

About its mysterious power

Which for me grew hour by hour.

This gnarled monster which

Overlooked the town, was weighed

Down with twisted, tentacled branches

Which I feared would unwind, find

And lock me in a slimy cold embrace

And caress my childish face

As it took me to its deep infernal world.

As I grew up the brave (not me)

Would venture closer just to see

The impish sprites and vapid spirits

Lodging there without a care among

The leafy boughs: but how the

Brave would run and run when

The wind swayed the tree and

Set those hissing spirits free.

All through my so short life it

Overshadowed the town and shadowed

Our every move and thought, and though

We fought, without a sound crept

Closer to our hearts and took root

Within our minds until I woke to find

The town was hot and black ...

My friends had turned their backs

On me and shouted 'witch';

Roughly they questioned me about

Magic wells and spells and familiars

In my home who would roam

Through narrow streets as I

Hunted for new prey to meet

My tally for the day.

So now here I look evil in the face

As it gathers round me in the guise

Of so called wise, one time friends

Who joyously come to see my end

Swinging from the Witches' Tree

Which has now opened up

Its mystery to me.

Third Prize-Winner:  Kayleigh Kavanagh



Searching the treasure bag

of trick and treat games 

taking in, swilling round, swallowing down

bitter, sharp, oddly sweet

it hardly matters

what you candy eat

iron flavour surfaces through

icky, yacky, making you squirm

something makes you feel

sick with every bite


nausea rising, spinning in place

eyes meet the floor

instinct telling you, the lower you go

the safer you will be from this

attack, plodding along, feet heavy with puffy

fluid toxins, expanding throughout

your flimsy skeleton bending under

the weight of this malady

the trudging treacle traps each step

a ghost gripping at your mind


movements measured by minus minutes

as I slow to a halt at full speed

and fall to my feet in bewilderment

unaware of what gave up this time

surrendering to the force

looking for the villain in their mask

frustration useless at this point

each day is a dull tragedy

a spell ticking timidly on

cast and caught on a witches stage


and I a player, unable to

exit. Quitting has long since passed

demons are regular

characters in my days  

with delirious ecstasy charging through

rescuing the boredom with giggles

and gorging.


In childish innocence I dream

of the future, without

this animal attached to my skin

that has burrowed so deep

I am no longer simply a human

I am a monster having a human experience

forgetting the measure

being a label, exchangeable



A dark whisper

shakes me to my core

revealing my greatest fear.

Judge's Special Commendation Award:  Sagarika Banerjee


All these kids going around

Having fun, no home tasks -

Blood in hands, white faces

Enjoying death with coloured masks.

I keep chocolates every year

They will knock, impatient song

I smile, they are in tears!

I wonder, 'What's wrong?'

One will teach, a simple thing

When you see us, you should scream -

'Will you smile to a real ghost?'

I tell the truth, though they laugh

'I am the one who scares me most.'

Highly-Commended Award: Raven Gothic


Her hair

a crazy tangle

of dark

spider webs

Her face

a ghostly hue

so pale

like flour

Her features


like a butterfly's wings

made of paper

Eyes so


like a turbulent


Her make up

her signature

A hint of darkened

chaotic colour

An inner wilderness

that is hidden

Erupts silently inside her

A shadow to be revealed

Her clothes

the colour of midnight

unlit by the stars

that are usually bright

Her tattoos

are her identity

Her make up

an inner person exposed

To her

everyday is Halloween