McLellan Poetry Competition 2022

The results of the McLellan Poetry Competition 2022 are here! Below is a list of the winning and commended poems, and the poem awarded first prize is printed too. To read all the winning and commended entries please follow this link. They were announced by judge Hollie McNish as part of the McLellan Art Festival on the Isle of Arran, Saturday 27th August.

There were well over 700 entries to this year’s competition and after much deliberation, the winning entries are as follows:

FIRST PRIZE: Annaliese Broughton from Ayr for “We Did not Know

SECOND PRIZE: Jonathan Edwards from South Wales for “Terrace, 1960s

THIRD PRIZE: Tilottama Chowdhury from West Bengal, India for “How Was Your Day?

Five further poems were COMMENDED. In no particular order, these are:

Morag Smith from Paisley for “Lost”

Penny Shutt from Edinburgh for “Student Teacher”

Matt Hohner from Baltimore, USA for “At the Afterworld Reunion of Could Have, Would Have, Should Have High School”

Jos Olive from South East London for “Ripe City

Anne Clarke for “Past It?

Many Congratulations to all of the winning and commended poets!

There will be on line Poetry Competition Winners’ Night on Zoom on Sunday 18th September at 7 pm (UK time) when all poets will be reading their winning poems, introduced by Hollie McNish. Tickets will be available on Eventbrite shortly.


First Prize Winner
2022 McLellan Poetry Competition

Annaliese Broughton


We Did Not Know

We didn’t know we were poor
when we placed our unwrinkled lips
over fag doubts decorated in old ladies’ lipstick
outside the hairdressers.

When we hid in the wheelie bin cupboard
during a game of 40-40 in,
giggled because we knew we’d been found
as our feet squelched in bin juice infused jelly shoes
we still didn’t know we were poor.

When Ahmed and I clapped our hands together,
our Quenchy cup tongues choreographing a new song,
we didn’t sing about being poor

and when we stood in front of the broken brick wall
fit for a Ken Loach backdrop,
watched those men with spray guns
exorcise our expression out of the cement,
we didn’t know it then.

Despite the signs,
we played ball games,
smiled at the twisted teeth
on the tops of walls even when they growled,
climbed into areas that weren’t ours,
tried to get upstairs before our mums caught us
in our paint-stained clothes
that not even a hot Matey bubble bath could wash out.

When we sat at our pine table,
we didn’t use spaghetti hoops to spell out ‘poor’
on our plates, we ate up whatever
our red-topped newspaper mate fed us,
Dad at one end, it at another

and when we dragged mismatched chairs together
at the community centre party to make temporary beds,
with bloated jelly and ice cream bellies,
Kyle Minogue was Spinning Around our heads,
not that we were poor.

We did not know it when he came to the door;
the provvie called Alan when we had money
and when we didn’t, he was back to being ‘the provvie’.

We did not know when we watched our screens shake
and saw the whale from Free Willy escape,
that Keiko the orca didn’t escape really.

We did not know,

When we set alight 10p mix up bags and danced around our lanterns until they burned to ash.
When we had estate wide water fights.
When we came together in the summer sun,
unstacked green plastic chairs for BBQs in the street.
When we breathed in that special smell; water drying away from concrete.
When we watched Countdown at nan and grandad’s
we didn’t find the word poor and even if we did it would’ve been a crap score.
When we circled baby Annabelle in the Argos catalogue at Christmas.
When we held mums’ hand on the walk home.
When she told us we were as warm as toast.

We did not know.

When we balanced on cobblestones.
When we left our problems in the underpasses.
When we counted sheep-shaped pounds.

We did not know.

When we watched our neighbours move out
and developers move in.

We did not know.

When the camera crews came in.

We did not know.

When they asked us for interviews.

We did not know.

When they tried to tell us that we were poor.

We did not know.

When they tried to show us on the telly that we were poor.

We did not know

that we were poor






Annaliese Broughton is a working-class poet, theatre-maker and facilitator living in Ayrshire. Recently, she was selected to take part in BBC Words First, a talent development scheme for spoken word artists. Her poem ‘New Meanings’ is currently being animated by Calling the Shots and will air later this year as part of the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival. Annaliese is ecstatic to have
won the McLellan Poetry Competition 2022 with her poem ‘We Did Not Know’. Featured image shows Annaliese. Credit: Annaliese Broughton.

To read the other winning and commended poems follow the link here