Previous Competitions

Ver Poets Open Competition 2016 Results

First Prize: Ornithology: Barn Owl by L. A. Watt

Second Prize: The hospital café is almost empty by Margaret Wilmot

Third Prize: Birdspotting in Palmyra by Maeve Henry

Highly Commended:

  • West Kilburn by Deirdre Shanahan
  • This year by Neil Elder
  • Go for a 15 minute walk… by Adrian Buckner


  • The Very Skin that Hurts by Geraldine Clarkson
  • Loss by Alexandra Davis
  • The Heron by Peter Cash
  • Manhood by Simon Bowden


  • Dr Who of the ice-box by Ian McEwen
  • I took Frank O’Hara to bed last night by Maria Isakova Bennett
  • The sadness of gift shops by Bryony Littlefair
  • The year she asked for a scrubbing brush for Christmas by Bryony Littlefair
  • The town we went to by Bryony Littlefair
  • Wait by Peter Wallis
  • Tuscan Church by Sylvia Banham
  • Delivery by Cheryl Foo
  • Dirty Magic by Mark Fiddes
  • Watershed During Lunch-Hour by Neil Elder
  • Wooing Lumber by Karen Francis
  • The Proportions of Pity by David Sutton
  • E Ferro Ferrum Temperatum by Malcolm Watson
  • The Lab Technician’s Skin by Beth Somerford
  • Ringed Plovers by Tista Austin
  • Learning to Swim (at 23) by Remi Graves
  • Old Pub Furniture by Nick Pearson
  • Potatoes by Greg Smith
  • Quartet for the end of Music lessons by Melanie Stephenson
  • Choosing to live near the sea by Jenny Vuglar
  • School milk by Jennifer Hunt
  • Regatta by Jean Watkins
  • Clinging by Lewis Coyne
  • Berth by Sharon Black 
  • Trawling photos of David Bowie sporting eye-liner  by Roger Elkin
  • Daffodils by Anne Boileau
  • Kathleen by Kaye Lee
  • The animals, two by two by Caroline Davies

Our competition anthology, The Ver Prize 2016, includes all of the above poems and Andrew McMillan’s report. All those included will receive a copy. Further copies  can be ordered by sending a cheque for £4 (plus £1 p&p), made payable to Ver Poets, to 181 Sandridge Road, St Albans, Herts, AL1 4AH.

First Prize
Ornithology: Barn Owl
L. A. Watt

This is established: the crook in the eaves,
hidden enough, and the barn’s rhythms: hay’s sweats
drying from the damp, scuffle of hens, felines probing for kill.
The heat of the hunt. Soft implosion of the pounce

and pain’s short raw shout.  Stink of blood.  And men,
men and dogs, metal, machinery, chains;
patience from the old, swagger from the young.
And in her eyrie, a slipped tile, scuds of stars, wind, rain.

Or this, her other identity:
to be the white heart winging through the wood.
To stretch, focus, launch and row the air
with luminous oars, inscrutable eyes, the fledging of a ghost.

To unriddle the night. To be as accurate
in plunging and owning as the vole is secret and dark.
Silent but powerful, the wings of the mind,
inner compass, hunger of the heart.

And so to ingest everything: organs, entrails, bone.
To possess the savager extreme.  Who knows she is so pale
and strange that tethered, or in flight, she feels less real
than a dream of herself.   Polarity, not paradox.  They call her owl.

So foreign, so slight.  Haunting her barn.  Coming for her pallor,
skimming the dusk with eyes that will never
meet theirs.  For a face, that ghost of a heart.
And the little soft body, like something from myth.  Like somebody trapped.

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Second Prize
The hospital café is almost empty
Margaret Wilmot

I take my coffee to a window table notice
how the pavement outside actually continues
the floor same level but in concrete this wall
was probably prefab just a thin skin
between me and out there just a small op but
the anaesthetic when we are young chopping wood
digging this is unimaginable someone else’s life
poor chap and the sun shafts out there
making golden columns we can’t imagine
being shut in a white room with the nurse
and her smiling explanations and her needle

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Third Prize
Birdspotting in Palmyra
Maeve Henry

It wasn’t a crow. We’d shot the crows already,
hung them on posts as a warning to the starlings.
No, this was exotic; wings as big as a flag
and an old bald head, reddened by many summers.
Yusaf caught it flapping around the temple precinct,
ugly and helpless, with a high, hoarse cry under torture,
but it told us nothing useful. Ahmed put a sign
round its neck and we strung it with red twine
from the traffic lights. The photograph I posted
from my phone went viral. Three thousand likes.
Tomorrow when the power comes back on
we’re electrifying a net across the sky. No spring
migration this year for the starlings, no murmuration.

It was a bald ibis, according to Google. One of a handful left.

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Ten Liners Members Competition 2015 – Results

Adjudicator: Anne Stewart

First Prize:  Close the Door Softly – Finola Holiday
Joint Second Prize:  Dreaming of dolphins – Christopher Delaney
Joint Second Prize:  The days – Anna Avebury

The winners and all the below poems were included in the 2015 Ver Poets anthology. Copies can be ordered by sending a cheque for £3 per copy, made payable to Ver Poets, to 181 Sandridge Road, St Albans, Herts, AL1 4AH. Postage free.

 Highly Commended:

  • Up The Garden Path – A.C.Clarke
  • Inmate–Muriel Towell
  • Rough Night at Sea- Valerie Morton
  • Spring Comes – Kaye Lee


  • Peace bell–Rosemary Muncie
  • I’d Say–June English
  • Poem for John–Sylvia Banham
  • Remembrance – Selwyn Veater
  • After Hearing Vivaldi… – Selwyn Veater
  • Sunshaft – A.C.Clarke
  • Meeting – A.C.Clarke
  • Nights – Muriel Towell
  • Damage limitation – Diana Pritchard
  • There are words still waiting–Kevin Maynard
  • Vase–Isobel Thrilling
  • Missing – Kaye Lee
  • October Rose–Bob Niblett
  • Spring–Pat Watson
  • “I have a little neck”–Laura Garratt
  • Blue Lightening – Laura Garratt
  • Instant–Susan Skinner
  • Borrowing books… – Terry Jones
  • Juvenilia – Terry Jones
  • Christmas Decoration – Daphne Schiller
  • Voyage – David Jones
  • Under Two–Helen Lovelock-Burke
  • The Airing Cupboard–Roy Batt
  • Poets have been mysteriously… – Viv Mcmanus
  • The Only Thing–Simon Bowden
  • September apples–Beliz McKenzie
  • Small comforts – Beliz McKenzie
  • The Pianist–Katherine Gallagher
  • Rock and Roll–Anna Avebury

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