McLellan Poetry Competition 2021. The Results are in!

The McLellan Poetry Competition Winners Presentation Evening took place at the end of last month. Here is a review from the McLellan Poetry Competition committee and a list of this years winners and commended poems. The winning poem is reprinted below.

Due to the continuing Covid uncertainty this year, the McLellan Arts Festival Committee sadly had to make the decision to postpone the 2021 Festival, which is normally held at this time of year, until 2022. However, the annual McLellan Poetry Competition went ahead, and culminated in a great evening of poetry and spoken word on Thursday 26th August via good old Zoom. We had 575 entries to the Competition, from every corner of the planet on a diverse range of subjects and in many different styles and formats, which made wonderful reading. The McLellan Festival would like to thank the many talented poets who sent in contributions to this year’s Competition. We felt very honoured and humbled to be trusted with so many beautiful works. These were all read and re-read, over several months and a “shortlist” of 128 poems was then put (anonymously) before this year’s judge, the poet Luke Wright.

The three winning and seven commended entries were announced by Luke Wright at the on-line Winners’ Presentation evening last Thursday. The winning and commended entries are as follows:-

First Prize:-

“Poem in which Dudley Moore bumps into my Grandmother by Jeanette Burton

Jeanette Burton is a poet and English teacher from Belper in Derbyshire. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham
Trent University and has taught A Level Creative Writing to students at a Sixth Form College in Nottingham.

Her first published poem was with The Emma Press and more recently she had poems published in Poetry Wales. She was a runner up in the 2018 Mslexia and PBS Women’s Poetry Competition and commended in the 2021 Ware Poets Open Competition. In 2020, she won first prize in the Welshpool Open Poetry Competition. She is currently working on her first collection about her East Midlands family.

Second Prize:-

The Mum Man by Tim Relf

Tim Relf’s poems have appeared in The Rialto and Ink Sweat & Tears, and are forthcoming in The Friday Poem, One Hand Clapping and Snakeskin. He was longlisted in the Plough Poetry Prize 2021 and the AUB International Poetry Prize 2021. His most recent novel was published by Penguin.

Third Prize:-

“Young Woman Powdering Herself” by Scott Waters

Scott Waters lives in Oakland, California with his wife and son. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Scott has published previously in Main Street Rag, Better Than Starbucks, The Blue Nib, The Pacific
Review, Loch Raven Review, Adelaide, A New Ulster, The Courtship of Winds, and many other journals. Scott’s first chapbook, Arks, was published in 2021 by Selcouth Station, and his poem “I Could Be Anybody” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

The seven commended poems are:

The Polski Sklep has closed its doors” by Steve Pottinger

Steve Pottinger is a poet, author, and workshop facilitator, and a founding member of Wolverhampton arts collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. He’s an engaging and accomplished performer who has performed the length and breadth of the country. His sixth volume of poems, ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ published by Ignite Books, is out now.

Swift (Apus apus)” by Emilie Jelinek

Emilie Jelinek is a former UN political affairs officer and researcher. She grew up in France and Belgium, and has lived and worked in Latin America, Russia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Myanmar and West Africa, as well as the UK. Through all this, she has kept a record of life
around her: memories of cooking dumplings in her Czech grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen, dawn swimming in Moscow, talking with tribal elders in remote Afghan outposts. She was shortlisted for the Martin Crawford Award for Poetry in 2021.

Red Light” by Natalie Whittaker

Natalie Whittaker has published two poetry pamphlets: Shadow Dogs (Ignition Press, 2018) and Tree (Verve Poetry Press, 2021). She works as a secondary school teacher in South East London.

When the Dark Dives Deep” by Magi Gibson

Magi has six poetry collections, including Wild Women of a Certain Age, and most recently I Like Your Hat. She has held 3
Scottish Arts Council Creative Writing Fellowships and one Royal Literary Fund Fellowship. She has been Writer in Residence in the
Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, and Reader in Residence at Glasgow Women’s Library. Her poetry is published widely in many magazines and anthologies, including in Modern Scottish Women Poets (Canongate) and The Edinburgh Book of Twentieth Century Book of Scottish Poetry (EUP).

Hutchie C, The Gorbals” by Sharon Black

Sharon Black is from Glasgow and lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains in France. Her poetry is published widely and she has won many prizes for her work including the Guernsey International Poetry Competition 2019 and The London Magazine Poetry Prizes 2019 and 2018. Her collections are To Know Bedrock (Pindrop, 2011) and The Art of Egg (Two Ravens, 2015; Pindrop, 2019). A pamphlet, Rib, is out now (Wayleave Press, 2021), and her third and fourth full collections will appear in 2022 with Vagabond Voices and with Drunk Muse Press respectively.

“t reynolds” by Hugh McMillan

Hugh McMillan is from Dumfries and Galloway. His latest book ‘Haphazardly in the Starless Night’ is published by Luath in 2021. He was a Poetry Ambassador for the Scottish Poetry Library in 2020, and in 2021 will edit the anthology ‘Best Scottish Poems’ . Website here

“Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker” by James Appleby

James Appleby is an author and translator. Born in 1993, his writing has been featured in Litro Magazine, Marble Poetry and others. He is the co-founder and English editor of Interpret Magazine, a multilingual review.

Congratulations to all of the winning and commended poets and thanks again for the wonderful entries. Copies of the above ten are published and can be accessed on the McLellan Poetry competition website.

The winning poem by Jeanette Burton is printed here:

Poem in which Dudley Moore bumps into my grandmother

It all starts with a collision outside Ford’s on King Street:
Dudley Moore distracted by a flickering TV in Lester & Nix,
my grandma struggling with a string bag and a pack of vests.
He is the first to apologise, introduces his wife, Suzy Kendall.
My grandmother kisses her on the cheek, grins in recognition,
pokes him in his camel coat and says, I know who you are!
Dudley looks around, notices an empty bench opposite
Bowmer’s cake shop, signals for my grandma to sit down.
He takes her hand in his and says, No, I know who you are!
Dudley tells the story of her life: one of seventeen children,
middle child, old enough to mother the younger siblings.
He reminds her of the time her elder sister killed a cat,
putting it in a bag, then walking over fields towards home,
knocking it on the ground until there was heaviness and quiet.
Dudley recalls her first job doubling yarn in the old East Mill,
then later, the tickets she reeled out as a bus conductress.
They both reminisce about 80s caravan holidays to Swanage,
the Christmas the chimney coughed out a cloud of soot,
blackening everything from the ham to my mother’s new doll.
She is surprised when he says he’s read all of her poetry,
has a clipping of ‘Bill and Ben’ printed in the Derby Telegraph.
Of course, there are other versions of this meeting, the one
where it’s not him at all, it’s Timothy Dalton, or Alan Bates,
or it’s just a regular guy, a man who catches the same bus.
The one where Dudley Moore smiles politely, nods his head,
places a protective hand in the small of his wife’s back, hurries
them both away to visit her sister’s hair salon next to The Ritz.
But this is the version I think of most often, the one where Dudley
thrills in the taste of my grandma’s jumbo fishfingers, gas-cooked
baked beans. The one where he marvels at that Sunday afternoon,
me and my brother making an entire fleet of paper aeroplanes,
how she gave them all names, how every one of them took flight.