2020 Poetry Competition Results

Time to announce the winners of the

2020 Poems in the Waiting Room Poetry Competition


The 2020 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,  Otago University Bookshop and Mercy Hospital, Dunedin for providing monetary prizes for our 2020 competition.

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

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 throughout New Zealand.

Regards,  Ruth Arnison

The results with Jenny Powell’s comments are below:

Otago University Press First Prize

“Bananas at Broad Bay” by Anna Hoek-Sims Dunedin

Otago University Book Shop Second Prize

“Korimako at Dawn” by Karen ZelasChristchurch

Mercy Hospital, Dunedin Third Prize

“Groundswell” by Alison DenhamDunedin

Highly recommended

“Girls and Boys” by Greg JudkinsAuckland

“A Collection” by Jasmine Thompson Kapiti Village

“A Gift” by Lincoln Jaques – Auckland

“Road Works” by Peter Johnson – Dunedin


Judge’s Report – Poems in the Waiting Room Competition, 2020


First Place

Bananas at Broad Bay

After considering all the poems, Bananas at Broad Bay never wavered from its first-
place position. It begins with an easily pictured image of a banana skin caught
between rocks, too high for the tide to reach. The poem then leaps into a visual
metaphor, linking ripe bananas and hills. The final stanza adds a tactile aspect which
we can almost feel on our own skin.

The poem doesn’t require a great length to develop its ideas. Layout on the page
allows space, or pause, to sensitively contribute another element. The balance of
components doesn’t falter, allowing appreciation from a wide audience.

Second Place

Korimako at Dawn

This poem calls us in through the act of questioning. We are asked if we have heard
something like a finger round the rim of the world’s smallest glass. Without revealing
the exact sound, the poem leads us through a series of delicate options until a new
consideration enters our hearing. That of a reply. Back to questions and we are
drawn to locate the source of sound in particular trees; the sighing ngaio, the
kahikatea, the miro sapling.

The direct addressing of the reader and active requests to listen and look for
specifics, lures us into the language of poetry. The final lines can be interpreted as a
mindful cue to consider wider issues.

Third Place


Groundswell skilfully establishes the mystery of an outdoor gathering. Without any
event planning, numbers spontaneously increase. It is a groundswell of shared
conviction, important enough for the crowd to sleep on the ground.
The motivation behind the gathering is never revealed. We are given details of white
flags and webs of rope snaking in the sun. It is as if we should already know the
implication of these. But we don’t, and the power of the poem is generated through
ongoing restraint and an admirable control of underlying tension.

Highly Commended

Girls and Boys – Carried along by authentic appeal, a search for gender identity traces development to a childhood context with its confusions and constraints.

A CollectionSome of the more unusual collective nouns for animal groups do, as the poem says, change the picture. A direct experience ends with a relevant question about humans.

A Gift – Echoing William Carlos Williams’ This Is Just To Say, this more contemporary
version focuses on coconut filled chocolate and a flat white. I was left craving the
same taste sensation.

Road Works – Joyful and humorous, this poem builds on a splash of colour from daily life.
Jenny Powell – March 2020

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