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Poetry competition 2017

Poetry on Loan - West Midlands poetry competition 2017 - the winners

The winners of the 2017 Poetry on Loan poetry competition are:

adult:  Off, by Bert Flitcroft

junior: On, by Hazel Cook

The poems are judged by a panel of 10 librarians and people closely associated with libraries. Only one person (me - the Poetry on Loan co-ordinator) knows the marks given by all the judges, so the fact that we have such a delightful pair of titles - Off and On - is just democracy at work.

Huge thanks to everyone who entered. We were delighted to find some really good poems among the entries, including some by people who have not entered the competition before. If you didn't succeed this time, please try again next year!

Congratulations to our two winners! There was strong competition and they can feel proud of this achievement. Bert has been known to Poetry on Loan for some time, and is currently Staffordshire's Poet Laureate. Hazel Hazel is twelve years old and her favourite subjects are English and music.  Her mother tells me that she enjoys writing poems and stories as well as swimming,singing and playing the clarinet.  She has entered a number of writing competitions and is delighted to have won this one.

And here are the poems:


Imagine the pent-up energy,
the violence, of a single electron
spinning madly around its nucleus,
unable to break free.
Think millions of them, going nowhere
in the red-hot cauldron of their universe.

Until some outside force charges in
and scatters them,
                              or marches them in lines
directing them to travel North or South.
Imagine their excitement at the thought
of travelling, of having somewhere to go.

There are such moments,
                                    when the world shifts.
Imagine Einstein pushing off his little boat
at midnight across a sea of relativity –
  all those ricocheting atoms.
Or Rutherford as he fired his first alpha particles.
All those electrons suddenly weighing up
the possibilities, high-fiving, punching the air.

Bert Flitcroft



The winding path,
I walked upon,
The maze of life ahead.
When a junction,
I came upon,
Your voice inside my head.

“To choose the path,
To walk along,
Look to your heart instead.
Listen to the lyrics,
Of your soul’s song,
To guide you up ahead.”

“Never stop,
Through twists and turns,
Along the path ahead.
The destination,
Your heart yearns,
To find out is up ahead.”

“Don’t look back,
Go on.”

Hazel Cook


It's time for our third poetry competition! You should very soon see in your local library a poster advertising Poetry on Loan’s 2017 poetry competition, open to anyone who lives, studies or works regularly in the West Midlands. If there’s no poster in your local library by June 1st, then feel free to tell them that there should be one!

The prize is, for adult entries, a paid performance as part of a Poetry on Loan event - so it’s really worth having a go! The junior prize winner will receive book tokens.

It’s free to enter, but it’s really important that you stick to the rules. These are given in detail here, but the main points are as follows:

  • ·        All entries must be made through the Poetry on Loan Contact form. Put Poetry competition  in the subject line.
  • ·        All entries must follow this format, all in the message section:
  • ·        Your name (this must be your real name)
  • ·        Your date of birth
  • ·        Your postcode
  • ·        Your email address
  • ·        Title of poem
  • ·        Poem
  • ·        You can enter up to 3 poems.
  • ·        Poems must be on the theme of Onwards, upwards, freedom, but you can interpret this as imaginatively as you like. It could be about nature, or human endeavour, or slavery, or it could be… well, surprise us!
  • ·        Poems must be a maximum of 20 lines long.
  • ·        All entries must be submitted by 1st September 2017.
  • ·        All entries must be previously unpublished poems, and must be your own original work.

The competition opens on June 1st, and we will not accept any entries before that date. Why not start writing your poem now, so it will be ready for the opening date?