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Highly Commended Category


Congratulations to the following poets who were recognised in the highly commended category. Read their poems below plus interview with poet Patrick Preston:



'The Fuck Tree' - Patrick Preston


Mosquitos dance to bare flesh,

and taking blood from a stranger under stars

seems darker. Men tramp new lines along tissues

of unforgotten paths to unspoken others

who haunt in signs towards touch

in gloaming faces you’ll never know

and ruined looks given back

to where I come, guilty again,

bottles sunk in a circle around a bonfire

of history. Derek, Thom, warm joints disappeared

against cold nights blind down here

spent hours disconnect days still

fade to fear and blue screens

cast strange wounds up against that oak un-

rooted while raw faces turn

to gold behind fags




'Divining the Pipes' - Stacey Forbes


On the quietest nights I shower with ghosts,

or the voices of ghosts, anyway.


Water dropped on porcelain

breaks in strangely human tones.


Listen: the stream babbling

over your body breathes


goodbye in other tongues

that leave you clean – but


leave you nonetheless.

Ruminations of rain rushed in


from what was once a field echo

in your house’s old machinery,


uttering something you can’t

quite make out but you know


somehow could change you,

could find you again and this time


save your life. How long have

I been trying to divine the pipes?


I am not afraid of ghosts.

What terrifies me is believing


all the tender words we’ll ever

need are circling the drain.




you're bleeding because you don't floss - Catherine Hou


I had a tooth pulled out a week ago / and my mouth has been bleeding ever since /like a letter of rejection / like an unopened text / like receiving bad news right before showtime / like firing at the fox in the chicken coop / and hitting nothing / but feathers and fat / like my fingers when I sat on my bathroom floor 1:13 am fluorescent lights cheap shower curtains a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from the dollar store / replacing all my teeth with broken glass / had to have my canines removed / because of an old rot in my gum line / the kind borne for generations / by my mother and grandmother and all the women / that were taught to eat in the kitchen / after serving their husbands / and fathers / at the table / unsavable said the dentist / biohazard said the dentist / when I asked if I could keep them / before replacing my bone / with titanium / and it’s like this: / I’m going to rip out / all my teeth / so I can bite you properly.



Interview with Patrick Preston...



Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing...


Patrick Preston is a writer based in the midlands. He has a PhD in English from UEA, and writes about place, queerness, trauma, and other things.


Why did you enter this particular competition?


Because Joelle Taylor was judging it. Because Mono was recommended as Best Writing Contest for the past two years. Because I wanted to send out a queer poem and thought it might sit well with MONO.

What inspires you?


Sex and politics, the changing cityscape and how it affects marginal lives. Ephemeral queer spaces, how they take place, what they might mean.

Favourite poet?


Thom Gunn, for The Man With Night Sweats, and the way it turns loss and stigma to beautiful poetry.


Love, love, love it. Thankyou again to all who entered this year's competition and for putting such heart and soul into your entries. As a working-class journal run from the depths of one of the most deprived cities in the UK, it will never fail to be a source of joy, surprise and inspiration when we receive work of such a high calibre. We want to continue growing and being an expected beacon for the best cutting edge, contemporary literature out there.


Watch this space for Issue 3 ready to drop any day...


Peace and Light,

Kayleigh & Tina




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