The Shore to Shore competition winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of our Shore To Shore poetry competition.

We are delighted to announce the winners of our Shore To Shore poetry competition, based around the theme of community.

Our winners were chosen by the Picador Poetry team and Poetry Editor and award-winning poet Don Paterson.

Falmouth - Pippa Stilwell


“ah, that'll be don; sorry pip, i'll have to go”. sends love, puts down the phone.

in my mind's ear i hear her cross the hall, unlock, release the chain,

open the door. i conjure up the small grey man

in his grey hat, only 80, young to her ninety nine,

standing in the sunlit porch proffering oranges,

satiny rhubarb, beetroot, change.

she offers coffee, cake, soup made by her,

friendship: she long a widow, he a widower.

they talk of neighbours: who's new,

who's moved, who died: long-ago jubilees,

his budgerigars, her garden. flooding in lutley lane

(but never climate change).

elsewhere, the river calder turned its torrents

through hebden bridge, carrying off turkeys, christmas trees, presents

and leaving its own gift of water, stinking,

drowning the furnishings.

some newspaper suggested spending foreign

aid on reparations: charity begins

at home. but a local man (also called cox, as it happens)

posted that life is more than just looking after your own.

sweeping his rooms clear of black sludge

he lashed out at those using the deluge

to make the case for racism –

averred that everywhere on this planet is home.

today, on the 24th of june 2016, they celebrate

hebden royd alternative christmas day;

jingle bells, crackers, mince pies,

making the world a better place.

Bath - Lara Klinpikuln


groggy and unpolished,

full of the lethargy of a hearty

slumber, the city's soul begins to stir.

and over the downs, the sun rears its heavy head,

spreading its blanket over the bed of grass –

velvety, steady.

and in the bear pit, a shrine to people power,

the newly-planted saplings are swayed by a determined breeze –

delicate, incongruous.

and on stokes croft, rays resist the boundaries of buildings

to illuminate banksy and his copycats –

mutinous, vital.

and up park street, the number 2 creaks up the hill,

collecting hurried lives on its way –

dependable, stubborn.

and somewhere,

in a bay-windowed living room, a man

flaps open the guardian and sips at a coffee.

and somewhere in a run-down office block, a woman

is finishing the final floor

with henry.

and somewhere on a long and steep hill, a student

stumbles to his temporary home after a night

he will always remember, smiling.

and somewhere in a park surrounded by suburbs, a group of children

make their way to school,

clambering at freedom.

and, heart wide open, bristol

cradles this precious life in her arms.

Oxford - Steve McGloin

Climbing Everest

lillie and mittie and kittie and me (cadilla)

are off to climb hills, with no sign of a fella!

i've picked out a modest one - barely a brae

we'll be up and down it in less than a day

lille's brought sandwiches and bags of warm chips

mittie's brought strawberries and cherries and dips

kittie's bought artichokes, potatoes and feta

me, just a rucksack to hide my barreta

we start out quite early, skies joyously clear

all four together, all hearts held most dear

our steps spring so lightly, as upwards we rise

my mind it feels giddy with hidden surprise

mittie is first, as her head starts to drop

she blames my advice to wear just flip flops

she's slipping and sliding - they're no good for snow

i shrug and smile sweetly, how was i supposed to know?

at the edge of the glacier, mittie slips from our clutch

i reach out to stop her, though i don't try too much

down into the crevasse we all watch her fall

four bards on a mountain, only three left to call

lillie is next when her rope finds a snag

is that the frayed one i lent her? old dear what a drag

she sways on the cord with such desperate cries

as i intone her epitaph, tears freeze in my eyes

the rope tears asunder, poor lillie falls fast

but i grab at her chips as she goes tumbling past

now we're nearing the top, just south summit to mount

four poets on everest, only two left to count

kittie's complaining there's no tea in the flask

while i'm busily sucking oxygen up through a mask

she's becoming delirious, claiming i'm mad

altitude sickness can be terribly sad

she screams and scarpers towards a traverse

but the snow slows her down, and things turn much worse

when after firing my gun, the echoing bang

triggers an avalanche from a white overhang

three poets have gone, only one bard is left

to climb up alone, feeling almost bereft

but standing at the summit, this laureate bird

knows how sweet it is to have the last word.

Chipping Norton - Sue Leigh

A Local Habitation

this is where i live

a place of willows, springs

where the romans built a villa

(a single mosaic remains)

this is where i live out my days.

home is another matter.

its our common tongue

that shared community of words

i dwell among, deep rooted

in earthy names,

heart's lovely lexicon.

Monmouth - Brenda Sorrell


for most of us, the challenge is the hill,

and yet the least fit of us struggles up,

combating breathing problems, a weak heart,

arthritic, crumbling bones and painful joints,

and taking shanks's pony, taxi, bus,

to reach our goal, the parish institute.

aged seventy to more than ninety years,

we women, drawn in by a common need

to foster writing and our love of words,

each have a share in this community.

at first, a tutor was our scribblings' guide,

even when fighting terminal disease.

but, when she died, we vowed to carry on

and found ourselves a haven in this hall,

cavernous, dim and cool, with rotting floor.

we huddle near a radiator's warmth

and comment on our essays, read out loud.

each member of the group takes it in turn

to choose a topic for the next week's meet.

we write our sometime reminiscences,

fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose.

we write our comments on each other's work,

and then return them during the next week.

the bond of writing lies at our group's core;

sharing individual talents round.

at tea break, and through writing, we learn much

about each other's lives, our joys and pains.

when three o'clock approaches, we wash up,

wrestle with crutches, walkers, sticks and coats

and struggle out, downhill, against the rain.

Oswestry - Trixie Roberts

Northern Town

the hooter shrieks. eighty minutes to play.

twenty six men run on to the pitch,

bewitching the crowd with their speed and skill;

in for the kill. muscles packed for the ruck

and the scrum. gum shields clenched, a grabbed shirt wrenched,

a hunted-hare-slalom run for the line.

the crowd's dumfounded, the try is grounded

and will stay in the memory . . . till next time.

the hooter bellows, eighty minutes played.

twenty six men, muddied and bloodied, wave

to the stands, with pride at what they gave.

they disappear down to the ritual bath,

while lingering, spellbound supporters cheer

then crocodile away to homes, greyhounds

and beer. passing the monument to miners,

who worked out and lost their lives underground.

when the pit hooter wails it's always bad.

the shrill siren signal cuts through the mist.

groups of grey women, bent fathers gathering

in cold, slow streets.

soon to be joined by the doctor and priest.

a neighbouring thread, lowry-like, winding

with nerve-racking dread,

up to the magnet of the pit head.

a blast in tunnel four.

no warning.

no canary call,

before the roof-fall.

they found them with the gas still curling,

pitched-in together, as in a scrum.

the winding gear's silent. the hooter's struck dumb.

the men, bones grime-black from under the coal,

raised past the pit bath to church bell's toll.

long in the memory . . . . long past the next time.

Caernerfon - Robert Greig

Once Upon a Red Box

once upon a time there was

a red box from a while ago

to be replaced

by metal frames


to times a-change

pale symmetries

of stark remains,

once upon past it stood now

tiny shards shattered glass

broken scattered

littered ground,

a use-by date

a musty scent

is this the future

that you meant?

now upon a this time stands

colourless without a door

except for tags


an uninviting

public phone

of little note

or thought.

here upon a midnight clear

vandals go and vandals

come to throw

another match

onto a bonfire

a list of names

a yellow page

last refrains.

since the shop

the hall, the school,

a church whose pews

now rarely used,

the families moved

to pastures new

to leave the old

to feel the cold,

houses sold to

come-and-go's who

spend the hours

in long commute,

just disconnect

on mobile phones

and in effect

becoming clones.

thereupon it comes to pass

receiver hanging impotent

a droning tone

a gallows death

no number dialled

no message left

a spiders web


once upon a dog-eared day

two lovers squeezed inside

to shelter from

the shedding rain

a confidante

if so inclined

while they wait

away the time.

Stockport / Bramhall - Nairn Kennedy


'There's no such thing as society.' - Margaret Thatcher

i miss the buzz, of course; all the girls

humming and heaving,

swapping round the party pheromones

swarming with the day's orders.

brilliance, i call it. no more slogging round

the dandelion clock; just don't go back

to another bad case of hives.

all the nectar i swig myself;

wallow in the sun like a furry pineapple,

sleep it off parcelled inside a snapdragon.

night time i'd never seen before:

the sky has tiny petals

like stopped raindrops.

now, the world's slowed down;

inside snarled flowers

nectar's turned to tree-gum,

while, like the point of my sting,

tomorrow seems to grow ever smaller.

Carlisle - Tony Hendry


council of war in whitehall basement.

officials and ministers stare at footage.

blood soaks into a tunisian beach.

responses are debated with top brass.

a stenographer's eyes blur with tears.

all morning on radio, voices break.

family members cry for their losses

or rage at holiday company bosses,

and traumatised survivors can make

no sense of what visited the resort.

no more can i. no acrostic or quatrain,

no such ordering or distancing device,

stops me feeling lost and sick at heart.

but carlisle is trying harder today,

and that's a start. more shoulder pats

on botchergate, more nods and smiles

in market square, more grans basking

in the innocent beams of babies

on fisher street and rickergate,

more value given to our fellow's lives

as paths cross under summer skies.

the cathedral is a little busier today.

Corbridge - Colin Bancroft

Hadrian's Wall

'Something there is that doesn't love a wall' - Robert frost

so strange to find it here in this most northern tract

where divisions are often at their chiselled hew;

see strewn across our histories field the plainest fact;

that with hard times comes thought for one, not two.

nothing bears this out more truly than the wall,

built, as walls are, to keep something out or in.

but over time the greatest walls must fall

and the making sense of walls can then begin.

the wall works now in such a different way

and brings together those it once repelled –

let's hope then for a monumental day,

when all the walls in all the world are felled.

St Boswells - Laurna Robertson


the sun was brighter than anything

and winters were cold.

think of walking home in rain to light a fire.

how slowly a flame turns smoke to steam

to a cup of tea nursed between numbed fingers.

there were fevers. infections spread.

old cures sometimes worked.

we prayed all night until penicillin.

work was hard. on foot. by hand. horses

and tackle. then tractors breaking down.

spark plugs needing attention.

everything to be cleaned, mended. every

surface a different treatment. every procedure

precise, tedious. paraffin. vinegar.

people whistled tunes from the wireless

or the variety. the same song could travel streets

carried and passed on.

celebrations were bigger, whole families came.

smiles lasted longer. enough for any life.

Biggar - Derek Hodgekiss

The Beautiful Game

'Football solidarity as Syrian refugees praise 'good treatment' in Scotland' - The Herald

from syria to scotland they fled,

from terror and torture to safety.

not local but now in our locality.

no shared historical heritage,

no common culture,

nothing in common

but our humanity.

we opened our hearts and our homes.

and now they play for “the cup of kindness”

in a friendly football tournament.

on this battlefield “shoot” and “attack”

are words of encouragement.

they think it's all over.

it is now.

football and fellowship,

bringing us together.

no old firm divide here,

but a union for a changing world.

we are strangers no longer.

may our community grow stronger.

St Andrews - Aileen Ballantyne


Pan Am Flight 103


rescue worker

he can see them

where he found them,

lit by the beam

of the torch on his forehead.

untouched, it seemed,

by the fall.

he hoped

they had slept

but knew they had not:

those two young women

he found in the dark field

that december night

still strapped

to their plane-seats,

their arms

tight around each other.

their fingers crossed.


on a hillside

human flesh hung on the trees at tundergarth,

the day the sky rained limbs

and knives and forks

and tight-wrapped salt

and sugar-packs and hand-wipes.

and in the field, at tundergarth,

the farmer heard the corbies caw.

ruth saw a hand on her roof

and told the police.

jessie made 200 scones

for the rescue workers.

her dog brought an arm

to the door

and she wrapped it in a cloth.

when the people came

from far away

about the t-shirts and the jerseys,

the notebooks and the backpacks

of the dead sons and daughters

that fell on ella's house,

she gave them tea,

and helped them to find

their children's possessions.

and when the mother travelled,

with pieces of glass and sand

from the surfing beach

her son loved,

ella helped her build a cairn

on the hill near tundergarth

and sent her home,


from when she came.



it was the toothpaste that nearly defeated them.

one woman washed, one ironed, and one folded.

it was there, in each suitcase: each tube had exploded

over each shirt and blouse they tried to mend.

but one washed, one ironed and one folded,

until each trace of the blast

and of blood and of fuel was removed,

and at last, after seven years of waiting

the clothes of each son, of each daughter,

were returned to each mother, to each father.

and the unread pages of a journal

of a girl who lived to twenty

were unfolded, leaf by leaf,

ironed one by one,

her words returned

clean and washed in their pages.

Our winners will receive a copy of Off the Shelf: A Celebration of Bookshops in Versea brand new anthology published by Picador to coincide with the Shore To Shore tour as well as the collected poems of Carol Ann Duffy, Clive James, Michael Donaghy and Sean O'Brien.

Carol Ann Duffy is a bold, original voice and one of Britain's best-loved poets, she was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009.

Over fourteen consecutive days in June and July 2016, Carol Ann Duffy performed alongside three of the fellow poets whom she most admires: Gillian ClarkeImtiaz Dharker and, the new Makar, National Poet for Scotland, Jackie Kay. Each evening was also accompanied by music from instrumentalist and composer John Sampson plus a special guest spot every night.

Listen back to readings from Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Jackie Kay, recorded live at Hope Park & Martyrs Church, St Andrews on Saturday 2nd July 2016.