And the winners are…

The Farnham Poetry Competition

A massive thank you to all those who took part in the Farnham Literary Festival’s Poetry Competition which the parish organised on behalf of the festival.

We had an incredible 138 entries which came from Farnham and much further afield, as far, in fact, as Nepal! And around 100 people gathered at St Mark’s on March 11th to find out who had won and to hear poetry readings from the winners, runners-up and anyone else who wanted to read. We also heard from the two wonderful judges – Ellora Sutton who judged the adult  poems, and Coral Rumble who did the same for the under-16s. Please read their work!

And the winners were…


First prize
The Robin by Margot Sidwell-Woods

Second prize
Many Tongues, One Voice by Jet Pariera-Jenks

Third prize
Hope by Thomas James

Highly commended
Save Us by Daisy Brice
Hope for Autism by Monty Monro
Be Hopeful by Hannah Jakobek
Hopeful Poem by Kobi Green
Hope by Alice Howell
I hope for a Dog by Lyra Buttery
Hope by Jessica Mellor
A Handful of Hope by Florence Champion
Hope by Alina Liepsch
Hope by Jaxson Wright


First prize
Insomnia and Death of the Queen by Rodney Wood

Second prize
Sift and Scatter by Chris Hunter

Third prize
There is a Light that Never Goes Out by Liz Usher

Highly commended
Frensham by Victoria D’Cruz
Sunday Lunch by Lorna Darcy
Looking for Hope by Mel Cracknell
Worship by Vicky Samara

And now for the poems:


First Prize
The Robin
by Margot Sidwell-Woods

The sky is dark
Sluggishly grey
We trudge along
Through the ashen day
And on this morning
With its charcoal tint
There’s a flutter of feathers
A robin’s beak and wings
Its eyes are bright
And its breast is red
It ruffles its feathers
And tips back its head
And melody pours out
Splashing into the air
High, sweet notes
That don’t belong there
But one day they could
In a new clear sky
And, like this bird,
I could learn to fly
I turn to stare
At the red over its heart
And my mouth twitches
It’s a smile
Small – but it’s a start

Second Prize
Many Tongues, One Voice
by Jet Pariera-Jenks

The National History Museum has opened its doors
And children are scouting the corridors
Gazing at evolution’s historic trail
From fierce dinosaurs to slow sea snails
Fascinated by ancient fossils and bones
And marvelling at geodes captured in stone.

But the scene that draws everyone’s eyes
Swims above them as if the seas filled the skies
The skeleton of a blue whale hangs in the air
And all the children stand and stare
They crane their necks to the ceiling to see
This oceanic creature of nature’s beauty.

They point and gape at her white bleached bones
In their hands lie forgotten their cameras and phones
One boy turns to another and grins
“Isn’t Dóchas the whale a beautiful thing!”
His Irish accent is thick and his companion frowns
“This whale is called Haffnung, she swims where we’d drown.”

A Spanish girl interrupts the German’s words
“No! She’s Esperanza, it’s wrong what you’ve heard.”
More children are adding names to the fray
“She’s Von!” “Tanna!” “Tumanako!” Everyone wants a say
Children start quarrelling, a fight breaks out
The once peaceful museum echoes with screams and shouts.

They argue about the whale’s name
Kicking and punching without decency or shame
Until an old man holds up his hands for quiet
“Children, there is no need for this angry riot!”
The museum echoes with the hush
All the youngsters look away and blush.

“You’re all right, the whale is called Dóchas,
Hoffnung, Von and Esperanzas
Because all of these words are one and the same
They all mean hope, and Hope is this whale’s name
She hopes that her sisters are safe in the sea
And that we stop hunting her kin so needlessly.”

Hope is important in all walks of life
We should unite our voices to keep it alive
Instead of quarrelling when none of us are wrong
We should spread the message through poems, laughter and song
Through war ridden countries and earthquake-shaken ground
Let’s join hands in hope, let the beauty resound.

After Jalaluddin Rumi, 16th century Sufi mystic

Third prize
by Thomas James

Hope.. it is in all of us;
in soldiers during wars
in doctors when performing operations
in all of our friends and families
… in you

Sometimes it is hard to find
sometimes it is hidden in the depths
sometimes we feel we lose it
but remember it is always with you

Once you find hope
all your goals will be within reach
so there is no need to mope
and that’s what I am trying to teach

Hope is in all of us
In the strong and the brave
In the weak and the shy
In the happy and the sad
Hope is in all of us

… and it is the most important thing….

Highly Commended

I Hope for a Dog
by Lyra Buttery

I hope I get a dog,
I’ll walk it every day,
Even if it’s rainy,
I’ll still go out to play.
I’ll feed her in the morning and in the evening too,
And when we go for walks she’ll do a great big poo!
I hope she will be small, brown and fluffy,
And I will brush her every day so she doesn’t get too scruffy.
I hope she jumps on the bed at night.
And sometimes gives me a terrible fright.
I hope to call her Daisy
And I’ll love her, even if she’s crazy.

A Handful of Hope
by Florence Champion

Everyone Has a Handful of Hope
Hidden in their pocket.
It helps you think, helps you cope
When you’re struggling.

Some say hope is red,
Some say it’s yellow,
But who is actually telling the truth?
Well everyone is correct,
As hope is not just one thing,
But many things,
Many items,
Many thoughts,
Many communities brought together.
That’s hope.

Hope doesn’t always work,
Although it cheers you up on a gloomy day,
Takes you away from things,
Things that put obstacles in the way,
Of achieving your dreams.

Yes, of achieving your dreams
Those things called doubt and worry and fear,
They line up on display,
They try and pull down tears from your eyes –
They make you afraid.
But as I said,
You can take all of those things away,
If you have a handful of hope,
Hidden in your pocket,
As it helps you think, helps you cope,
When you’re struggling.

by Alina Liepsch

Hope is a special something
We cannot live without.
We can all have hope,
And we should not doubt.

We hope things will get better,
When everything goes wrong.
Hope gives us what we need,
It helps us to stay strong.

It keeps us going when we’re tired,
And helps us when we fall.
If we hope for what we already have,
Then that’s not hope at all.

But hope for what we can’t yet see,
Means patience, calm and waiting.
When we have something to believe
It makes a life worth living.

by Jaxson Wright

In a world full of war
Sadness and pain,
When the winters are cold
And pouring with rain,
When people are hungry
Homeless and poor
Nowhere to sleep
Except the dirty wet floor,
The glimmer of hope
That brightens the sky,
That spring is coming
The floors will get dry,
The sound of laughter
Will fill the warm air,
I hope we are happy
I hope that hopes there.

by Jessica Mellor

When there’s an ominous hole in the back of your mind,
You feel like drowning, struggling to survive.
When you think your incarcerated in your grave,
Hope is only found from among the brave,
The never-ending dissatisfaction that is suffocating within you,
You’re entrapped in your mind, not knowing what to do.
Everyone struggles from time to time,
Not understanding life, thinking that’s a crime.
But if you look into the distance, there’s a shining light,
Part of your individuality can radiate so bright.
Not knowing there’s a way out,
A place to escape,
Not seeing there’s a hope,
It’s easy to lose your way.
Tring to navigate a path,
Just trying to stay alive,
Just to keep breathing
To get through the day and night.
Even through the darkest of times,
There are glimpses of hope,
But sometimes not clear enough to see,
For some it’s far too much to cope.

Hope for Autism
By Monty Munro

A Person with autism is
Talking without emotion
Inventive – thinking outside the box
Struggles academically
Tedious it feels
Imaginative thinking
Creative thoughts

Hopeful Poem
by Kobi Green

Hope is a wonderful thing
it surrounds everyone
From the stars
To the tiny, tiny bees
The whole world is surrounded by it
You just have to find it.

Be hopeful
By Hannah Jakobek

Have faith in yourself.
Open your mind.
People need to have hope.
Eventually it will work out.
Free from pain.
Uniquely you.
Look for hope wherever you are.
Live in the moment.
You are amazing.

By Alice Howell

I Hope for lots and lots of chocolate at Easter.
I Hope the Easter Bunny comes.
I Hope for candyfloss and cuddles.
I Hope for lots of fun and family.
I Hope for sunshine.

Save Us
By Daisy Brice

Darkness, fear, hate, all of this is an empty void
People waiting for it all to change gears for a brighter day.
I sat under a range of leaves on a tree
Thunder hit the three trees
Leaves falling and crying. The world
Dark falling, evil walks past us.
But I hope the retrieval of the Greatness
Hope with hope
The sky bright with a little rain for the crops
Icebergs safe
Everything is alright
Forests huge with something to prove
But this could be through
Unless we Dream incredible Dreams
You can save us all
You need to hope.


First Prize
by Rodney Wood

At night, when all the colours die / they read about themselves in colour /
with their eyelids shut
Craig Raine, A Martian Sends A Postcard Home

My sleep routine starts after the news at 10.30.
I flip through 119 TV channels which don’t feature
actual programmes only clips of the Queen,
Paddington Bear, marmalade sandwiches
and adverts I’m not interested in.

After that I take umpteen supplements: lavender,
valerian root, melatonin, magnesium,
a glass of Dom Pérignon, listen to “Clair
de Lune” by Debussy, have a warm shower,
a light snack, write a to do list, put away
my phone before the sleep cycle can begin.

Last night, 8 September 2022, for example,
I shut my eyes to an empty screen before
clips of the Queen, Paddington Bear, marmalade
sandwiches and adverts I’m not interested in
about paperless TV licences, buying

and selling cars, star sign based cuisine, bread,
burgers, avocados, life insurance, slots,
EuroMillions, swimwear, equity release, shirts,
video poker, loans, beer, smoothies, mints,
holidays in Greece, mobile telephones, roulette,
perfume, coffee machines, Kane to score next,

sunscreen, boilers, hemp extracts, home
delivery, hair colouring, online casino, racing,
video bingo, chocolate, biscuits, cough drops,
trains, credit, online sports betting, home insulation,
insurance, hemp extracts, trainers, how to stop

gambling, gambling and more gambling,
5 minute party political broadcasts
on behalf of All 4 Freedom, Charter, Family,
Scotland – Unhyphenated, Climate, Rubbish,
Church of the Militant Elvis, Count Binface,
Motherworld and the other 337 political parties.

After that another clip of afternoon tea
with the Queen, Paddington Bear, marmalade
sandwiches and only then, the alarm goes.
Another sleep interrupted but there’s always
hope I’ll sleep before the next coronation.

Second Prize
Sift and Scatter
by Chris Hunter

I stood in that yellow, searing heat; a blasted amalgam of sift and scatter. A scape shaped of grief, shimmer, pine roots and shadows cast by cypress, as black as sump oil.

The unplanned end to a furnace thickened, crumpled stumble from gate to tree to stone.

In the autumnal chill of chain grey, that land remains neutral. Just yellowed grass and cold dirt. Now, instead, it is a sultry, soured, shifting molasses of emotion.

The moment draws me down to the ground. This strange gravity of everyone interred. Once strangers but now unified in soil, to clay, to sand. 

The words of everyone who has passed, fusing and dividing for those who wish to hear it. The whispers of the next day, early light after loss, the quiet voice from another room. The unmercenary kiss to the brow. Dates forgotten. Emotion not. 

Now this place gives back all that has been taken from those who lie here and those who got to walk away. It gives back each regret in one long breath of scoria-laden intent. It raises strange hope from former pain and leaves a message throughout the earth beneath my feet.

There in that dust blown sift and scatter. You have gone. You really have gone. Though you knew this place and we are both here, sharing that hope that you said once lost, would lose you.

Third Prize
There is a light that never goes out
By Liz Usher

If Hope is a thing with feathers
it fell down our chimney last night
and came to its rest
on a red-brick dust nest
behind our gas flame-effect fire.
We’ve not used the gas fire for ages –
we daren’t turn it on for the cost…
but hope springs eternal
in appliance infernal,
you can’t turn the pilot light off.

Highly commended

by Victoria D’Cruz

Small pebbles rock beneath our feet
Cold wet toes curling
The wind whips your lack of hair not flying now
My thick locks knotting with fear
We leave our clothes, laid neatly for our return
We walk, uttering only smiles of encouragement.

I used to run straight in
Embracing the cold shudder that hit my perter chest.
Sending my heart racing, that weird feeling when I thought of you.
Breath gasping
Quickening the panic.

My Dad told me it’s not real sand and swans could break my arms.

Today together I edge in at the precipice.
Swimming shoes hiding my unmanicured nails, tow-float spread around my middle age
Little by little
I stop, step  until the tiny waves comes to me
I move to them controlling my breath.
Drawing imaginary squares of air.
The rush as a hopeful laugh slaps me in the face.

Sunday Lunch
by Lorna Darcy

Whenever we have roast chicken
For lunch on a Sunday
And the carcass,
Pale and broken open
Sits steaming,
Speared on the carving block
Peeled carrots,
Peas seething,
Potatoes and parsnips burnished,
He carefully frees the wishbone
From the frame of the bird.
Strips the malleable white flesh from the brittle bones.
Holding up the delicate V,
He wraps his little finger round one
And offers the other,
Jagged as a tooth,
To me.

I pinch it between thumb and forefinger
To get a better grip
Knowing with unbreakable, unshakeable certainty
That when we pull apart,
He will come away with the greater portion. Always the victor.
The good futures wishbone
Aloft like a ragged pennant
In his finger.
In all the times we have enacted
This minute ritual
I have never, ever won.

And yet, he offers it to me, and there is always hope.

Looking for Hope
by Mel Cracknell

My son wore red
The tense is past
A clue, a statement, a feeling or reality?

The robin wakes at dawn stays until nightfall.
How do I know?
His song is his voice he tells the world here I am.

My son’s voice has gone
I have his red tee shirt

by Vicky Samara

Thank you all for your support!

One thought on “And the winners are…”

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