Creative Manchester Poetry Competition

Showcasing the winners of the Creative Manchester Poetry Competition 2020

Read the poems selected as winners of the Creative Manchester Poetry Competition 2020, presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing.

Launched on World Poetry Day 2020, this Twitter-based competition invited budding writers to express their thoughts about the climate within a 280-character poem. 200+ entries were judged by three esteemed poets: University Chancellor Lemn Sissay, the Centre for New Writing’s Professor of Poetry, John McAuliffe and Ledbury Critic, Maryam Hessavi, who assessed the micropoems based on their deployment of language, form, sound and imagery.

Below, read the three winning poems, as well as seven additional poems which were highly commended by the judges.

The Winners

First Place (£500)

Alison K Brown

I remember how every year

the rivers mutinied.


Terrace-street houses,

wringing out the water,

inch by sodden inch.


Abandoned carpets, and

Scared-eyed dogs,

floating on swan-shaped lilos.


The women gather

with their water-ruined hands.

They blame the council.

Runner-up (£250)

Ben Gwalchmai

Does this Spring count, this season without her human audience? /

Bu bahar sayılacak mı? İnsansız bir mevsimde çiçekler kim için açar?

Her audience was never us.

Her audience are the bees.

As we look on churches

so they look on trees.

Runner-up (£250)

Matan Bone

Au                                                                                                                               revoir Dear World     

      Lingered dead                                                                                                      in dark dreck sea

                     Naked, quivered                             ---                                                      abstaining tree

                                             Somber                                                                             obsolescence is

                                                       Thy levied                                                                    constellation

                                                                      Contagion                                                  bluntly abrupt

                                                                                   Lord's                                      exquisite creation

                                                                                           Deforested,                           deoxygenated

                                                                                                           Beacon of light        extinguished

                                     Pardon                           for                                 the                                 harm.


Highly Commended

Caroline Ridley-Duff

“Stay at home!” we yell

from our spacious, leafy gardens

to those going mad

in airless high-rise flats,

dreaming of the park,

wilting like late-spring daffodils.

“We’re in this together” we cry

as we paint rainbows,

hoard food

and snitch on our neighbours.

William West

Climate Change

















Lendbreen by Mantz Yorke

Cairns are emerging from the ice, one by one:

the pass is yielding to us

clothing, reindeer pelts, leather shoes

and feathered arrows

a thousand or so years old. Higher passes still

grip their ice, their histories

(unlike the climate’s trend) yet to be disclosed.

Tom Branfoot

Watch the boy throw

cups of rainwater


onto the peatland blaze,

as if the weak toss &


few drops would douse;

summon the final wisp


Smoke rising like sweat

from wet hot backs;


turf smouldering,

black land clouds


snaking high,

his arms outstretched like pines

Neil Laurenson

There were fires in Australia

but that was a long time ago.

There are fires in Siberia

but they’re miles away.

I go to bed.

There are no fires

in my dreams.


Miroslav Holub said go

and open the door

at least there will be

a draught.


I open the door.

I see fires.

Climate Adaptation, # 1 by Helen Moore

I’m building ditches, ponds

puddled with clay


I’ll grow skeins of watercress

& webbed feet


my skin may turn subtly

responsive, secrete


moisture like a rounded hymen

my vocal sac


could pulse at mud

the boggy wrack of wetlands

Donal Thompson

Beached and bleached and burned and done.

One day there'll be nothing new under the sun.