2015 Competition Results

Time to announce the winners

of  the

2015 Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) poetry competition

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Carolyn McCurdie has read over 350 poems, and then read them again and again, keeping in mind her own criteria plus a few words of requirement from me!  She had no idea whose work she was looking at as I removed all sign of ownership on the poems that slipped into the competition complete with names! Any letters, drawings and photos were also kept in my care so she was totally in the dark re age, sex, occupation, and experience of the poets. Carolyn has done a fantastic job.

The winners have all been notified, their prizes are in the post, and I’ve emailed everyone, who provided me with an email address, to let them know the results are out. Many thanks to: Otago University Press, Paul Bernard of L J Hooker Ltd, and Otago University Bookshop for providing monetary prizes and book vouchers for our 2015 competition.

The winning poems will appear in the winter edition of the Poems in the Waiting Room poetry card. I intend spending the weekend going through all submissions and selecting any which might be suitable for a future PitWR edition. I’ll be in touch with those poets early next week.

And now the results:

Otago University Press First Prize:  ‘The Indigo Parade”   by Leslie McKay from Lewis Pass.

Paul Bernard from L J Hooker  Second Prize:  ” Watermelon wine” by Kath Beattie from Dunedin.

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) Third Prize:  “The Girl Who Sings Islands” by Catherine Fitchett from  Christchurch.

Otago University Bookshop Best unplaced Dunedin poet: ” The  Visit”  by  Elizabeth Pulford.

Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition. Your support will help Poems in the Waiting Room continue to provide free seasonal poetry cards to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, prisons and hospices.

Regards,  Ruth

Judge’s Report

These poems were good company. The poets spoke of love and family, of the natural world and of the wisdoms that impact on their lives. Some contributions arose from experiences in the Canterbury earthquakes. I found these brave and moving.

There was much here that showed originality, sometimes just in the choice of a word, or an arresting phrase, and sometimes in the whole conception of the poem. In these cases I felt that the poet had made an important start in their development as a writer. There was the promise here that if the poet learned craftsmanship, learned to re-work and re-work, to delete the pedestrian and to follow only what sings, some wonderful poetry could be the result.

Because work is essential. Writing a good poem is not easily done, and an excellent poem even more difficult. Behind the art, the craft of an effective piece is years of work, practice, and some kind of apprenticeship to the great poets of the world, past and present, by reading their work over and over. Poetry must be heard, felt, loved. It must be read so often and widely that the music of it gets into your breathing and then, if you have developed your ear, might enter into words of your own. It’s a magic, mysterious process. And exciting. To anyone beginning, I would say, well done and welcome. Keep reading. Keep writing.

And of course, many of these poets demonstrated that they know this at least as well, if not better, than I do. The sifting, selecting, and then reading and re-reading my favourites was an intense pleasure. Then I had a pile of nine. At that point it became difficult because all were good poems and then I just had to accept that my own personal preferences had to rule. The subjectivity is just how it has to work. As every judge’s report I have ever read points out, a different judge would have different preferences. So these are the poems that fill me with delight and admiration.

Thank you for the privilege

Carolyn McCurdie

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Autumn edition in braille

Whenever I send a new season’s poems to the printer I also send them to Amanda who is the Accessible Formats Producer at the Blind Foundation. Amanda organises the transcribing of the poems into braille and then their transformation into a booklet.

Autumn 2015 brailleSincere thanks to the For Everyone Charitable Foundation who have sponsored the braille booklets for the last twelve months. I’ve applied to another organisation for funding for future braille booklets – I’ll let you know here as soon as I hear, if the response is positive.


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The Last Post


The Last Post arrived yesterday and my mailbox was overflowing! I’ll be meeting up with Carolyn McCurdie during the week and handing all the competition poems over to her. She has a lot of wonderful reading ahead of her.

Cheers to Dargaville Intermediate School – four students sent entries into the competition! There were so many entries from young people this year I think we should have a separate category for them next year.

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Street art

We came across this classy letterbox while out walking today



and then further on we found this fellow having a swing in the shade.

DSC04751One of the joys of working part-time  – I get to meander through quiet streets and suburbs, hike in the bush, and paddle in the sea, on week days when most people are at work.

I think the Hunt St postie is also counting down to Saturday, the last day we’re accepting competition entries. As February 28 draws closer his mail bag looks heavier every day.

The autumn poetry cards should be in all the South Island and lower North Island medical waiting rooms by now, except for Dunedin. I’ve still got a few to hand deliver around Dunedin which I’ll complete on Friday.

If you’re interested to find out more about the poets in this autumn card then look at the post Our Autumn 2015 poets where you can read all about them.

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Lilliput Libraries

A little free library in Melbourne

A little free library in Melbourne


After work on Wednesday I set off on a ‘begging trip’ around the local hardware stores. I was hoping to get offcuts or maybe, just maybe, convince one store to supply me with free materials so we could get the first Lilliput Library out into a neighbourhood.

First stop was Bunnings Warehouse.

I spoke to Katie who is the coordinator for community projects and when I showed her my Lilliput plans her face lit up and she called the manager to come and have a look! Ooops, I thought, they’re going to laugh me out of the shop. The manager looked at my plans and photos and gave me a huge grin and said, “What are you wanting Ruth?” So I thought aim high Ruth and I asked if he would supply me with free materials to make 1 Lilliput Library. His immediate response was, “No, we can’t supply materials for one but we can supply materials for ten and we’ll make them for you as well.”   I didn’t throw myself into his arms or burst into tears, I was very restrained although I was totally totally overwhelmed.  They both thought it was a great community project and were extremely happy to support it. I’m meeting up with Katie next week to work out the building schedule. Staff members will be building them on Saturdays at Bunnings’ DIY workshops. Once I know the dates I’ll let you know. Please support Bunnings  – they are making the most amazing contribution to the Poems in the Waiting Room Lilliput Project!

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Lilliput Libraries – take one now, return one later.

I’m hoping some of our Guardians will be happy to paint/ decorate their Lilliput Libraries during some of the Saturday sessions at Bunnings. I’ll keep you up to date with progress and the locations of these free neighbourhood libraries.

If any Dunedin people would like to donate books to get these libraries off to a flying start please contact me  – waitingroompoems (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please replace the (at) with  @ and (dot) with .    Many thanks, Ruth.

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We happened upon this letterbox while out walking on Monday so I had to add it to my collection, photographic collection that is!


 Our letterbox is very mundane by comparison but it’s what’s on the inside that counts, don’t you agree?


 Today our mundane letterbox was full of competition entries.


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Our autumn 2015 poets

As I set off for work this morning at 7.00 am there was a slight feeling of autumn in the air. And this made me realise I’m going to have to give up my current walking to work activity – learning poems. Soon it will be too dark to see the bits of paper in my hand. I’ve been selecting my favourite poems from the poetry cards and happily reciting them  over and over as I stride along Portsmouth Drive and beyond.  So if you’re a Dunedinite and come across someone mumbling about Penguins (Fiona Farrell’s Penguins) or Window Cleaners ( Roy Marshall’s Dying Arts) this week it will be me!  So moving on…..

Allow me introduce you to the poets appearing in our autumn card.

John Alcock

John Alcock is a Birmingham born writer. He was a lecturer in Drama and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. He has a special interest in writing for performance, for which he won a Richard Burton Award. He is also a Housman Prize winner. He has published, broadcast and given readings in UK and USA. He lives near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Catherine Bateson
Catherine Bateson is an award-winning poet and writer for children and young adults. She has three collections of poetry published, the latest being Marriage for Beginners, John Leonard Press. She regularly blogs at http://www.cattybatty.blogspot.com and tries to post a Tuesday Poem each week.


Elena de Roo is an Auckland children’s writer and poet. In 2010 she was awarded the Todd New Writers’ bursary to write a collection of children’s poems. A number of these poems are included in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, edited by Paula Green. Elena’s other works include The Rain Train (illustrated by Brian Lovelock), the Ophelia Wild series (illustrated by Tracy Duncan) and The Name at the End of the Ladder – a junior fantasy novel.

riemke-portraitphoto courtesy of James Ensing-Trussell  from the Poet Laureate’s website (National Library)

Riemke Ensing was born in Groningen, The Netherlands, in 1939. With her parents she immigrated to New Zealand at the age of twelve in 1951. At this stage of her life she spoke no English. She went to school first in Dargaville, then to Ardmore Teachers’ Training College, after which she taught for two years, returning to the College to lecture in English literature for a year. She again became a fulltime student and on graduating M.A.(Hons) in 1967, was appointed as a tutor in the English Department at the University of Auckland, where she taught till 1999. She has since been appointed an Honorary Research Fellow (Faculty of Arts) and in 2002 was a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow. Her poetry is represented extensively in anthologies and her work has appeared in many publications both in New Zealand and overseas.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012.

In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.

Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She recently came up with a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective in The Monogram Murders, a ‘continuation novel.’


Ron C. Moss is an artist and poet from Tasmania, a place of wilderness that inspires his work. Ron is recognized as an outstanding illustrator and designer of many poetry books, and his haiku and achievements in related genres have been widely published and honoured with many awards.

“I consider myself a student of the Zen arts,” Ron writes, “which have fascinated me from an early age. I enjoy the distilled conciseness of haiku, the exploration of art and mixed media, and sometimes I like to combine the two, as in the ancient tradition of haiga. I try to bring a sense of  contemplation into my work. Moments of stillness are important in our very busy lives, and my path is to practice the way of art and haiku poetry.”  

Author Image Claire Orchard3
Claire Orchard was born in Wainuiomata, grew up in various Hutt Valley locations, and now lives in Wellington. Her poetry has been published in various journals including Sport, Landfall, JAAM, Penduline Press and Turbine.

Andre Surridge

André Surridge is a poet and playwright who lives in Hamilton. His work has been published and/or performed in Britain, the US, Canada, Croatia, Australia and NZ. His writing awards include the Shell Playwrights Award NZ 1984 and the Janice M. Bostok International Haiku Award 2012.


Jane Yeh
Jane Yeh was born in America and educated at Harvard University. She holds master’s degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first collection of poems, Marabou (Carcanet, 2005), was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. Her latest collection, The Ninjas, was published by Carcanet in 2012. She was a judge for the 2013 National Poetry Competition, and has been named a 2014 Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society.

Her poems have appeared in The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The Nation, Poetry Review, and other journals, as well as in anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2012 and The Forward Book of Poetry 2013 and 2006. Currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University, she also teaches Arvon and Poetry School courses and writes on books, theatre, fashion, and sport for publications such as The Times Literary Supplement, Time Out, and The Village Voice. She lives in London.

Autumn2 2015

The autumn cards will be posted out in the next seven to ten days to medical centres, rest homes, hospices and prisons. Feedback is always appreciated.       Ruth

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