Competition Winners

P3 competition logo

Thank you to everyone who entered P3.

We had over 120 entries with some excellent poems amongst them.

This year’s winners, as chosen by Patricia Ace, are:

1st Prize

Species by Max Mulgrew


The Evanescence of Parenting by Al McClimens

Commended poems

Insular by Ian Colville

Demolition Team by John Quinn

Van Pelt by Richard Watt

Not a Death by Lucy McIver


Grey wind slaps
under broken alders
where anglers back
into bivvies, slack
lines oscillate nervous
still eyes reflect
the troubled surface
broken by an islet,
draped cormorants
watch squatting men
idly hook maggots
catapult ground bait
cast their thoughts

a quilted jacket
zipped and closed
on a netted carp
that gasps and slows
across the lake
wavelets kill reflections
fracture trees and clouds
memorise the route home
energise electrons
that recall other journeys
another time

across the lake
in the dark-eyed water
buried in the centuries’ slime
ancient lives
suck the sunlight
feed the racial order

drops slap on canvas
the drying birds shiver
their dead black feathers
in that noisy dark
kill the seeing
leave electrical spark

Max Mulgrew

Judge’s Comment:

This poem is alive with strong and striking visual imagery which effectively draws the reader in to its loch-side setting. The poet’s observations of this world are both immediately recognisable and satisfyingly unusual, conveying a strong sense of atmosphere, at times ominous and disturbing. The poem piqued my interest with some peculiar and mysterious word choices and phrases; I liked the way that not everything was explained here, allowing questions to bloom in my mind. I enjoyed the poem’s musicality, the poet’s use of rhyme and skill with line breaks and rhythm enhancing this. Perhaps a little more attention to form, and punctuation to help the sense in places, would improve the poem but on the whole a successful poem which stays with the reader long after the initial reading.

The Evanescence of Parenting

When you first said the word ‘helicopter’
Properly, Sikorsky would have been proud.
But I preferred it when you said ho-co-co.

When you found those milk bottles
On the next door neighbour’s doorstep
And told me you’d found a cow’s nest.

When you got expelled from school
And we had to go and see the headmaster
And we pretended to be Bart and Homer.

When you ate the prawn starter, whole pizza,
Potato salad, aubergine pasta, a litre of Stella,
Garlic bread then looked round for pudding.

When you asked if you could borrow
A commentary on Nietzsche, read it,
Enjoyed it, returned it, wanted more.

When you asked me the meaning of ‘evanescent’
And I said something that fades over time,
But like being a parent it never really goes away.

Al McClimens

Judge’s Comment:

This tender, heart-felt poem touched me with its frank evocation of the joys and struggles of parenting. I valued its use of concrete details, which although rooting the poem firmly in the poet’s own experience, also allowed the reader to bring their own experiences of parenthood to bear on the poem, enabling connection and recognition between poet and reader. I appreciated the use of form here, the choice of 3-line stanzas worked well, and there was also attention to rhyme, although this wasn’t sustained throughout. To make this poem stronger, I would lose the last line, as it is too explanatory; the meaning of that line has already been conveyed by the title and the rest of the poem. It can be very difficult to write convincingly about those closest to us and I admired this poet’s honesty in doing so.