Previous Competitions

Ver Poets Open Competition 2020 Results

First PrizeWoodland by Vanessa Lampert

Second Prize: Pangolin by Julian Bishop

Third Prize: What the dawn taught me by Ingrid Leonard

Highly Commended:

  • After the Crash by Catherine Edmunds
  • Dig deeper by Vanessa Lampert
  • A Wedding by Kathryn Bevis


  • Hortus Conclusus by Michael Woods
  • Endgame by Julie Lumsden
  • Lament by Sylvia Banham


  • Love Song …by Chrissie Bury
  • Making a Wren…. by Michael Greavy
  • It is Night by Dilys Wood
  • Microclimate#2 by Ceri Morgan
  • An Aberdyfi grave by John Gallas
  • The Clearing by Kathryn Bevis
  • Shopping List by Simon Cockle
  • Icarus … by Miriam Obrey
  • Walking with Ava Grace by Miriam Obrey
  • easter island by Lucy Crispin
  • My Twin Sister by Marjory Woodfield
  • The Past in your Pocket by Polly Walshe
  • The Search by John Lancaster
  • Nana’s brooches by Cheryl Pearson
  • The Promised Land by Michael Henry
  • Warning by Keith Chandler
  • The Pink House… by David Jones
  • Kathputli Puppets by Sam Burns
  • Querent by Gaynor Clements
  • Sitting beside by Rebecca Hubbard
  • Where You Hit Women by Robin Lindsay Wilson
  • How it Ends by Catherine Edmunds
  • The House by Miles Salter
  • Some Say by Christina Thatcher
  • Tulips by Claire Louise Hunt
  • Near Skyreholme by Stephen Holland
  • The Apple Orchard by Helen Overell

Our competition anthology, The Ver Prize 2020, includes all of the above poems and Jacqueline Saphra’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.

Open Competition First Prize


At the poetry festival, the gorgeous boy poets
are taking turns to read poems about kneeling
in woodland or being knelt before by boys who may

or may not be poets. The girl poets are listening
as girl poets do. Some are aching from sitting
for hours, hearing about the boy poets coming

in woodland without them. Some are thinking
of the winter woodland months, of the cold
or wet, or both and the fact that it might be

totally fucking worth it. Others are thinking
glad thoughts about how lucky they are to be girls
with skirts you can theoretically lift in woodland,

without wet trousers it could be a win win
wet woodland wise. One girl poet has pale legs.
She thinks about the price of tights, of their delicate weave

on the wet woodland floor. She’d like to read
poems about men kneeling for women in woodland
or women kneeling for women in woodland.

She’d like to read poems about women kneeling
for men on a rug in woodland during a warm spell.
She has not read every poem about woodland, if there are

any poems that address the above, then Respect.
She’s just saying, she’d like to read of a clitoris
in woodland. She’s just saying vulva, twice. Vulva.

Vanessa Lampert

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Open Competition Second Prize


a splendor
which man in all his vileness cannot
set aside  -Marianne Moore, The Pangolin, 1936

Part botanical, part mechanical dragon –

                           Marianne considered you more

Artichoke than mammal, more plant

                           than ant-eater, your pine-cone whorls

Nestled snug among the jungle under-scrub.

                           Ardently pursued for your aluminium

Gloss-armoured dinosaur, your snakeskin

                           plates were scraped virtually clean by

Oriental medicine men; exotic crocs served up

                           as mysterious elixirs to quicken

Lactation or help drain pus. Alas, uncanny pangolin,

                           your silver-foil covered flesh

Incubated more than a quick fix, infusing some salty stew

                           cooked up as street food in Wuhan,

Name made notorious by those who sickled open

                           the last cans of your slatted metal backs.

Julian Bishop

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Open Competition Third Prize

What the dawn taught me

There’s no quiet
like a lit summer evening,
when the world has swept up
and tidied itself away

or a sleepless morning
at 4am in the lungs
of a farmhouse, fourteen and afraid.
Outside, even the hens are still,

the sun holds its stars
in a gathered cloth.
I cry out to kinsfolk for company –
none but rooms fill with daybreak,

turning. I hold to my orbit
as the earth floods yellow.

Ingrid Leonard

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