Happy Families Poetry Competition Winners

I say it every year, but it's not an easy task picking three winners with so many wonderful, imaginative and thoughtful poems from which to choose. It's even more difficult now we're judging across the whole age range, perhaps having to judge head to head the mature reflections of a 16 year old with the exuberant outpourings of someone half their age.

The final problem, and its a particularly poignant one with a family themed contest, is how often siblings enter the competition. Will it cause family warfare if sister A wins a prize two years in a row, while sister C is overlooked yet again? We try to be as fair and even handed as possible with the judging; the only way you can be sure to influence the judges' decision is be writing really great poetry and happening to pick subjects that are close to their heart.

Anyway, the 2013-14 poetry competition was judged by black cat and hippopotamus loving Patrick, who after much deliberation and head scratching has selected four worthy winners. Hearty congratulations to our winners and a big thank you to everyone who took part in the competition.

2014 Poetry Contest Winners

FIRST PRIZE

Grannie by Jack aged 11

A beautiful, heartfelt poem written by Jack about his much-loved Grannie Annie.

Grannie

Her scent wafts into my dreams,
I don’t know what it means,
That faint smile,
That cheeky grin,
Never a taste of sickly gin.

I’m protected by her arms,
Twice right round the world, again!
Never the same,
I will always remember her for being brave,
Knowing she would follow me beyond the grave.

My Grannie Annie,
Not your typical Grandma Franny,
And when that fateful day comes,
When I feel my eyes get wetter,
I will realize she couldn't have been better.

Patrick's comment

It's slightly tricky to say why I liked this poem so much. Most poems are read and forgotten, but this one stuck in my memory for a long time. Are all Jack's other relatives haunted by the taste of sickly gin? Is Granny Franny an archetype or a real person? The answer is that you don't always have to fully understand a poem to appreciate its brilliance, Grannie manages to tackle the difficult subject of death in a sensitive, mature way and includes some wonderfully evocative language, especially in the middle verse. An accomplished poem and a worthy winner.

SECOND PRIZE

My sister is a cat lover by Hudhayfah aged 8

'I did this poem about my sister because she loves cats, and always wanted one, now she has a black cat and she loves it so much.'

My sister is a cat lover

She wished that she had cat,
After a long time
She got a black cat she said “yes but do not touch it, because it's mine”
She loves her cat so much
She wouldn’t let us, even get a single touch,
Because she loves the cat so much.  

Patrick's comment

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore all cats, but especially black ones, so Hudhayfah's poem really struck a chord with me. Affectionate and funny, it's also entirely realistic in its portrayal of a loving but possessive sister. I must confess that I simultaneously laughed out loud and found a tear welling in the corner of my eye when I first read it, a sure fire sign of a great poem which reached all our emotions. Well done, Hudhayfah.

JOINT THIRD PRIZE

Grandad’s Truck by Jaime aged 13

This poem I wrote about Grandad and his truck (he called it Humphrey), I love to go with him on small trips. He travels through the small bush towns and cities delivering loads. I love all the sights and sounds inside and out of the truck, as you can see in this poem.

Grandad’s Truck

Alongside Grandad in his semi,
Wheeling through the Aussie outback,
Along the corrugated roads,
Through the shimmering heat waves.

Grandad’s cheerful whistling,
His rough steady hands,
Ant mounds sailing in the waving, dry grass,
Towering gums and meandering creeks.

Grey nomads trundle past
Grandad’s heavy ladened truck,
His loud horn blasts at lazing cows,
Dozing on the road.

Dusty windscreen,
Dark, enveloping bunk,
I fall asleep to the rhythm,
In Grandad’s semi.

Patrick's comment

Jaime's poem is certainly the most mature and poetic of our entries, but then Jaime is a previous winner of our competition and a poet of real promise. I love this poem not only for it's beautiful evocation of the Australian landscape, but also for the clever literary deception. Superficially its a poem about a truck, but it tells us a great deal more about the security and contentment that her relationship with her Grandad offers.

JOINT THIRD PRIZE

A Rainy School Day by Shiloh aged 6

'My name is Shiloh, I am 6 years old. This is my poem that I want to tell you about.'

A Rainy School Day

Wake up in the morning
Rub my sleepy eyes
School day today!

Rolled oats for breakfast
Then I’m into school
Head down in my books!

I can hear the rain
Run around outside
Raindrops on my head!

Mum shouts, ‘Lunchtime!’
We all head inside
More work after lunch

Swim in the dam
Dinner and then bed
Tucked in by Mum and Dad
Sleepytime!

Patrick's comment

Yes, Shiloh's just six years old and writing wonderful, lyrical poetry which shows great maturity in its economy and elegance. But Shiloh is from a poetic family - she shares third prize in this competition with her older sister Jaime.

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Individual poems are copyright of the stated authors and used with permission