2022 Poetry Competition: Results!

We are delighted to be able to announce the results of our 2022 Poetry Competition, judged by Brian Clark.

FIRST PLACE: A June evening – Alex Barry

SECOND PLACE: Certain Things – Jonty Pennington-Twist

THIRD PLACE: Content – Simon Tindale

Highly Commended: The Finals – Tessa Foley

Commended: time is sticking to my skin – Lea Da Silva

Commended: The Home – Thomas Larner

All six poets will be invited to read their poems at a future Contextual virtual poetry reading event (probably at Contextual: 11 in September)

The winning poems


A June evening

It's one of those evenings when the world implodes
One of those evenings when crossing the footbridge, the dark shadows on the Avon are Whistler's, when the muddy silt swirls like smoke in the racing sunlit water below, when the mud on the banks glistens, smooth,
where nobody goes.
When St Mary's spire is higher than ever before, dwarfing the cranes
And Cabot and Wills atop the hill cry out amidst
the wind shaken trees, whose leaves are frantic, convulsing, wild things.
I'm unsettled and harried for it's the summer of life passing by, like the swifts in the sky, burning comets high in the emptiness.

In The Avon Packet the bar is a train, the 
red door open to the warm trafficked breeze, the street, feet away, where sirens and engines pass and it's Naples, mixing the urban with life and these
beer bellied men on the banquette are wise Kings,
plain speaking, talking the truth we should all know.
It's one of those evenings 
When I realise I have nothing,
absolutely nothing to say, that I'm floating, sipping my Courage Best which I've not had since sitting on a stool with Sash, leather jacketed, in the Rose and Crown already forty years ago. 
warehouses, radio, the men exchange words, fish which change sex to reproduce dependent on requirements, 
I'm impressed.
The beer plays its part
Of course,
Pushing urgently through the blood like the tide in flood 
A pub I wouldn't normally find myself in,
But this evening, alone, when there are no rules and sin, or perhaps just exploring, reminiscing, is mine for the taking,
A Lithuanian landlady, the students arrive,
Cricket on TV and the yellows are batting, the blues close in, and I'm falling, falling, 
Falling in love with this city, for its one of those evenings, when Love walks in. 

SECOND PLACE: Jonty Pennington-Twist

Certain Things                                                                                                                

When you go,
What will it be like?
Who will pull
The bee sting out
And cut the doweling
To a perfect length?
Will I find the necessary papers
And will I know what to do 
With your shoes,
Your drill bits
And your (unfinished) puzzle book?

When you go,
What will it be like?
Will you depart,
In the carriage 
Of a perfect English Summer afternoon,
Or will the air 
Be cool and distant,
Like you yourself
Could sometimes be?
Like I myself
Can often be.

What will it be like,
When all the things you’ve ever said
And could’ve said 
Are taken with you like tattoos?
When I must let you go
And turn to a reflection, 
That I doubt 
I’ve ever truly seen.

THIRD PLACE: Simon Tindale


We post pictures 
on social platforms 
to prove we’re living 
our best lives 

Engagement party...tick
Wedding breakfast...tick
Anniversary present...tick
Baby shower...tick

Each golden moment 
captured and shared 
assuring the world 
we’re not missing out

Kitchen extension...tick
Chin reduction...tock
Discreet piercing...tick
Sleeve tattoo...tock

An enviable existence
avoiding negative
emotional responses
like the exquisite pain 
of rejection
like the eternal privilege 
of grief

like the overwhelming urge 
to disappear

Congratulations to the winners!