2016 Poetry Competition Results

Time to announce the winners

of  the

2016 Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) poetry competition

Italy-Montepulciano, clock


The 2016 competition winners have all been notified, 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, Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ), Southern Community Laboratories, and Otago University Bookshop for providing monetary prizes and book vouchers for our 2016 competition.

The winning poems will appear in the winter edition of the Poems in the Waiting Room poetry card. I intend spending some time 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.

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

The results with Pat White’s comments below:

Otago University Press First Prize:  “My mother and great aunt laughing like trees” by Frankie McMillan –  Christchurch

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ)  Second Prize:  “What I forgot to steal” by Gill Ward –  Kapiti

Southern Community Laboratories Third Prize:  “June” by Jillian Sullivan – Oturehua

Otago University Bookshop Best unplaced Dunedin poet: “Barefoot walking” by Sarah Manning.



Judge’s comments for PITWR Competition 2016

The first part of judging a poetry competition is objective. Matters of form, use of language and context are considered. I read each poem twice to ensure time is taken with every entry. This year there were all but 350 poems.

After that initial reading stage, judging is a process of elimination. There is a certain point after the first readings when the work that will not be shortlisted is put aside, and those works are left behind. I worked from 350, to 100 entries, then to 40 and finally settled for a shortlist of 16 poems. I then returned to the smaller selection a number of times – these were the works that lingered in my mind.

Over a period of time the poems take on their own characters, for they all have different qualities. In the end a particular judge relates to specific poems more closely than another judge may, and those poems become the winners.

I would like to thank those poets who entered this competition. There were a number of potentially good poems that did not make the prize list, for one reason or another, including  ‘float or dance’, ‘spy’, ‘beyond the mango trees’, ‘ stalked in the supermarket’ ‘we watch Mum run a half-marathon’, ‘the slip’.  In the end my choices are as follows:

Otago University Press First Place: – My mother and great aunt laughing like trees

This poem wins for its sheer exuberance. It is very difficult to read it out loud without getting involved in the moment of laughter. At the same time the poem laughs and rolls through to its conclusion so quickly that one takes a moment to realize the final two lines are absolutely loaded with lives full of hardship and longing, already hinted at in the third line.

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ)  Second Place – What I forgot to steal

The idea of loss and regret is seldom dealt to with humour in this fashion. An almost brash self-knowledge is opened up at the end of the poem with a surprising vulnerability. Direct language and attention to specific details set the reader up for the admission at the end – a sort of country and western ‘laughing at your tears’

Southern Community Laboratories Third Place – June

The idea of beginning each day with thanks is strong, and the poem is compiled with language which in its simplicity is a thanksgiving of its own. Almost a painting in its brushstrokes, by including the bird at the end it moves beyond mere depiction, to add another world in the poet’s thoughts.

Otago University Bookshop Best unplaced Dunedin poet –  Barefoot Walking

 This is a quiet poem that makes a play on the idea of ‘dark pathways’ and our need to connect with the earth, because if we walk on, there is light and by implication, hope.

Pat White

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2 Responses to 2016 Poetry Competition Results

  1. It is a pity that we cannot get a quick response to our poems. How can we write better poetry if we don’t know what is ‘wrong’ with the poems we sent in? I know that 350 poems is a lot to comment on. What about a sort of general response sheet with comments ticked such as ‘use of tired language’, ‘sing-song rhythm’, ‘too obscure’ etc. Or recommendations. Thanks.

    • ruth arnison says:

      Poetry competitions usually charge an extra fee if poets want critiques. It’s not an option for us to offer this service. Maybe you could join a local poetry group where critiques would be valuable. Cheers Ruth

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