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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis


Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Here are our three winners in the 'Highly Commended' category (all from the north of England!):

'Thirteen' by Natalie Crick

Julie is still mine – but maybe

only for another year, or less.

Her window is open and she is looking

past me, to the end of the road,

where the streetlamp glows sodium pink

where the road meets the dark sports field

where the boys have gathered

in black hoods to smoke, their breath

wisps of smut kisses.

I put my hands into Mam’s

Sunday meat in the big pot

just to feel the blood.

There may not be a reason why

Natalie Crick (Newcastle, UK) has poems published in The Moth, Banshee, The Dark Horse, The Poetry Review and elsewhere. She is studying for an MPhil in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Last year one of Natalie's poems was commended in the Verve Poetry Festival Competition 2020 and awarded second prize in the Newcastle Poetry Competition 2020. This year a poem was highly commended in the Folklore Poetry Prize and highly commended in the Wales Poetry Award. Natalie is co-founder / poetry editor of a small literary press based in Newcastle and Prague, Fragmented Voices.

'the knife' by Jane Kite

the knife in the kitchen drawer

was just an impulse away

it was mild steel

made in Sheffield

six inches of blade and had appeared

in my mind insistently for weeks

had to gather my nerve

had to be quick

took it and put it

in a strong brown envelope

the knife

and like a mad woman

wrapped it in layers of newspaper

as you would broken glass

layer on layer of protection

like the parcel at a children’s party

then string round

it could have been a lump of meat

or a body part

same thing

having to hold back the murder of me

carried it gently like it was a baby

put it in the dustbin

covered it in rubbish

hid from it till Thursday

when the bin men came

Jane Kite lives in Otley, West Yorkshire. Her first collection, Distaff and pamphlet, Phobia and the Girl are published by Half Moon Books and available from

'In Russia, in Winter' by Catherine Edmunds

The ice swimmers of Krasnoyarsk

enter a low, swollen river. I place my hope

in the water as they part its heaviness

with their long, slow movements.

The wharves are still, the last ships

long gone. The coldness, these last years,

has been unbearable. Night kisses my eyes,

my tears are salt, they cannot freeze.

Back home in Brixton, you ply me

with eggcups of love. They’re enough

for now. We eat a dish of peaches, a scattering

of almonds. But the Thames intrudes,

the music pauses, you ask me my thoughts.

I can’t answer—I’m drinking the dregs

of the vodka, savouring its bitterness,

there is salt in the air, no ice.

Catherine Edmunds is a writer, artist and professional violinist. Her published works include two poetry collections, five novels and a Holocaust memoir, as well as numerous short stories and poems in journals including Aesthetica, Crannóg and Ambit. She has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, shortlisted in the Bridport Prize four times, and was the 2020 winner of the Robert Graves Poetry Prize. Catherine is married and lives in historic Bishop Auckland, in the foothills of the Pennines in the North of England.

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