The VC Gallery are proud to announce the winners of this year's poetry competition on the theme of Remembrance. We were blown away by the quality of work from the entrants and we would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter.
We would also like to thank poet Helen Grant for judging the poems and giving valuable feedback to the winners.
Remembrance is a tucked scarf tightly wound
against November griefs in frost bound air.
Ribbons of roll calls summons the dead - their
litany of names now a nation’s prayer.
Remembrance: a scarf secure in the winds
makes cotton dressings staunching bloodied limbs;
howling shellshock ruptures combatants’ minds
(their) death -demons dance while the home-front sings hymns.
The more we recall the more they retreat,
shot down in black night; not knowing they die.
Memories bleach bones and stones where they lie.
Marching white crypts ruled by a dead drumbeat.
Remembrance: red scarves, poppies, tall columns,
and blood-rust scars on marble monuments.
Fellow soldier I hope you understand
I never hated you, your family, your land.
Fellow soldier I’m sorry you had to fall
it was you or me, I stood tall.
Fellow soldier, I didn't want to kill,
following orders, all part of the drill.
Fellow soldier, as your life ends
I feel in another world we could have been friends.
Fellow soldier, though you can't grow old
your paradise awaits, whilst earth is so cold.
Fellow soldier, we thought each other so insane,
you no longer have to feel this unbearable pain.
Fellow soldier, along with your death
it took my ability to catch a breath.
Fellow soldier, it will take a long while
to erase the image of that dying smile.
Fellow soldier, war is definitely not what it seems
you are at peace, I hear all the screams.
Fellow soldier, the only difference between you and me:
I'm now locked in chains and it's me that set you free.
Fallen petals in the wind
Standing statue-still pressed hard against the November chill,
past and present fusing as the gulf between collides.
The whispers of lives once lived swirling amidst the crowd,
scattering in the wind as the crimson petals blow.
“Shh, it’s their two minutes of time now,” I’m told.
Cloaked backs hunched forwards and heads bent low,
her gloved hand warm and soft in mine.
As the clock slows and just a faint tick is heard,
it’s time for those who walked before to whisper their lost stories,
sensing their hearts filled with poems left untold,
feeling their inescapable fates of extraordinary deeds,
revealing unrecognized valour and courage spent,
to allow others to breathe, to listen, to touch and to see,
and to remember…
Their pain infused into our landscape and our existence.
As the haunting bugle call cuts through the sombre silence,
the present now restored,
and those in the shadows fall once more,
returning to their ageless journey,
the warm hand, gone, no longer in my grasp,
now scattered too with the falling petals red,
destined to dance eternally in the cool late autumn breeze.
She said, “Remember those no longer here, the peaceful, quiet, victorious dead.”
L - ove our country
E - veryone is proud
S - how our respect
T - wo minute silence
W - ear a poppy with pride
E - veryone will remember
F - orever we will remember
O - n the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month
R - embrance Sunday
G -rateful we will always be
E - very soldier was brave
T - hey shall not grow old
The danger of this brutal pandemic,
only some people can understand,
how it spreads like wildfire,
how deadly and horrifying this is
for our species.
You might not get any symptoms,
but risk the life of one or two.
Just sit there for a moment,
think that there are kids
who live without their parents,
with a worse outbreak (war,)
and they saved us, me and you .
1st place: Anne Phillips 'Remembrance is a Tucked Scarf' this sonnet's rhythm pulls you in. The repeating image of the tight scarf is powerful. The last image is a clever metaphor for life and death; the darkness of blood and the lightness of marble.
2nd place: Ben Thomas 'Fellow Soldier' emanates empathy. This poem struck me for its honesty and universality... we are all just people who don't choose where we are born. I was humbled to read it and kept returning to it.
3rd place: Adele Jones 'Fallen Petals in the Wind' the narrative was easy to follow and picture. The reoccurring mention of petals was haunting. There was a great play with the idea of time in this poem. And I loved the ghostly comforting and warm hand we all yearn for at times.
Under 15s winner
I thought the use of taking the well-known phrase 'Lest We Forget' and using it as the frame for her poem was clever and effective.
Krishti Khandelwal, India.
‘I didn’t expect to read a poem that drew parallels between war and a battle of a totally different kind going on at the moment. It’s admirable to see such young minds thinking in depth about all these matters, let alone those thoughts then coming together through poetry.’