Coming your way soon! The 2023 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition – our theme this year is PLAY and our judge will be Mr Poetry Unplugged… Niall O’Sullivan 😀😀😀



Pics from the Awards!

On Wednesday 7 December, we revealed the winners of this year’s Waltham Forest Poetry Competition. You can see full list of winners and their poems HERE.

Our event took place in the theatre upstairs at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub where the stage had been set up for their annual pantomime Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. O yes it was!

A crowd to the left of us…
…and a crowd to the right
Welcome to the poetry awards!
Frankie Goldhill enters the Christmas spirit!
Frankie Goldhill with Andreena Leeanne
Marcia Jackson and mum Lucy
Marcia Jackson with Andreena Leeanne
Luca McNicol Williams with Andreena Leeanne
Dylan Ware
Inaya Razzaq
Maleeha Sadiq
Sharon Hood
Barry Coidan introduces the Funniest Poem Awards
Liz Verlander
Keith Massey and the judges
Lidl Lebowski
Rachel Lyon
Stephen Harvie and Andreena
Barbara Campbell
Rainbow Wilcox
JP Seabright and Andreena
Pari Faramarzi and Andreena
Gail Webb
Tallulah Howarth
Peter Burns with Andreena
Andreena reads the winning poem by Peter Devonald
Andreena reads from CHARRED
And it’s goodnight! See you NEXT year!

2022 winners! Waltham Forest Poetry Competion

Our 2022 judge, Andreena Leeanne, has chosen the winners of this year’s poetry competition on the theme of Community. Paul McGrane and Barry Coidan also judged the Funniest Poem category. We received 600+ poems. Thank you to Barry Coidan for providing the prize money for the main prizes and Stow Brothers Estate Agents for sponsoring the local prizes.

CHARRED by Andreena Leeanne is available HERE or www.andreena.co.uk

Andreena Leeanne: “I was a bit reluctant to be the judge of this competition because I always encourage people to write however they like and stress that it’s not a competition on my quest to make writing more accessible. After some consideration I said yes and have really enjoyed the process. I was thrilled to see that there were over 640 submissions. It took a while for me to read all of the poems and make decisions not only because there were so many to read but because I took my time reading each one. I was inspired and impressed with the young people’s poems especially with how they embraced the theme of community. I wish them well and hope they all continue to write. Overall, this was a lovely experience. Thank you for choosing me.”

ADULT POET MAIN PRIZE – for poets from the UK and beyond

First prize, £400: Kindness Epidemic by Peter Devonald, Stockport

Second prize, £200: Tuned In by Peter Burns, Wimbledon

Third prize, £100: Our Lovely Borough of Green by Kay Taylor, Walthamstow


Boaters Code by Georgia Howe, Cheltenham

The Shame by Graeme Darling, Carluke, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

I saw this poem in a dream and cried by Tallulah Howarth, Leeds

Come Together by Gail Webb, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

Word by Word by Rachel Larsen-Jones, Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Over the Fence by Pari Faramarzi, Walthamstow, was also Commended and was chosen as the winner of the Local competition

YOUNG POET MAIN PRIZE – for poets from the UK and beyond

First prize, £50: Building Blocks by Sharon Hood, Waltham Cross

Second prize, £30: Community by Maleeha Sadiq, Chingford

Third prize, £20: Set Me Free by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow


Community Cravings by Amy Shin, Aberdeen

Anti Social Media by Lydia Mapledoram, Oxford

Our Communities by Codie Ndoni, Bishops Stortford

Poem 2 by Alex Mavrou-Stone, Clapton, London

Community by Inaya Razzaq, Chingford and My Street by Dylan Ware, Walthamstow were also Commended and were chosen as first and second respectively in the Local prize.

LOCAL ADULT POETS PRIZE – for poets who live, work or study in Waltham Forest

First prize, £50: Over The Fence by Pari Faramarzi, Walthamstow

Second prize, £30: Barberette, JP Seabright, Leytonstone

Third prize, £20: Wild by Rainbow Wilcox, Walthamstow


We are all Human by Rachel Lyon, Walthamstow

New Normal by Rachel Lyon, Walthamstow

Soon we’ll have no trees in Waltham Forest by Stephen Harvie, Leyton

Planting the seeds by Said Fararhi, Walthamstow

A glow together by Rainbow Wilcox, Walthamstow

Toxic Times by Barbara Campbell, Higham Hill

LOCAL YOUNG POETS PRIZE – for poets who live or study in Waltham Forest

First prize, £50: Community by Inaya Razzaq, Chingford

Second prize, £30: My Street by Dylan Ware, Walthamstow

Third prize, £20: Community by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow


A day’s work by Frankie Goldhill, Walthamstow

Mortality in eternity by Roviha Ishal, Walthamstow

Room for all by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow

No outsiders by Marcia Jackson, Walthamstow

FUNNIEST POEM PRIZE – for young and adult poets from the UK and beyond

First prize, £100: The Choir by Nairn Kennedy, Leeds


Seven squabbling Swansea seagulls by Barry Childs, France

Space Probe by Keith Massey, Chichester

Frognal by Lidl Lebowski, Walthamstow

Aksking Mr Bings by Lidl Lebowski, Walthamstow

The Poo Bag Tree by Liz Verlander, Worthing

Doggies in Heaven by Jessica Wasiolek, Molehill Green, Essex


First prize, £400: Kindness Epidemic by Peter Devonald, Stockport

Andreena: “The diamond shape of the poem caught my eye straight away. I have never seen a poem written in that way before. The symbolism of the diamond represents strength. The writer is passionate about kindness which makes the poem quite persuasive. I liked the optimism of one individual can create change in their community and the world with acts of kindness. Lovely message. Clear winner for me.”

Peter Devonald is a Manchester based poet/screenwriter. Winner of the Heart Of Heatons Poetry Competition 2021, poet in residence Haus-a-rest. His films appeared in 150+ festivals and won 50+ awards. Senior writer for Children’s Bafta nominated series and formerly senior judge/ mentor for The Peter Ustinov Awards (iemmys).


Second prize, £200: Tuned In by Peter Burns, Wimbledon

Andreena: “I liked how happy, musical and welcoming the poem sounded. I felt like I was singing along while I was reading it. I also imagined the art space they are describing. Felt genuine.”

Tuned In

“Hey man,” he asks me — “where you bin?
“I bin doin jamming – at ‘Tuned In”
Every face fits, every race, every skin
Drop in, join in – this is Tuned-In

All kinds, all sorts – all together
All chords, keys & rhythms – birds of a feather
Anthony-Jon-and-Tony – and Wobble with the bass
Everyone’s a winner – at Merton Arts Space

No money, no sweat, no exclusive club
We’re all a part of the community hub
Play along, play together, play out of your skin
In tune, fine-tuned – at ‘Tuned-In’

So Roll up, Rock up – come on over and find us
Make your harmony the glue that bonds and binds us
Come and take it – take this splendid opportunity
Come and make music – in our Arts Space Community

Local, or further afield – from any neighbourhood
Any manor, any postcode – any neck of the woods
We need to come collectively, we need some teamwork
We need much more, than that ‘social network’

Tuned into rhythm – rhythm of life,
Tuned into harmony – harmony, not strife
Tuned into-friend-and-foe, sister and brother
Tuned in to-ourselves, tuned in to each other

Come as you are,
Come as you feel
Come up folks, this is the real deal
Brought here for you, by popular appeal

This is not virtual, folks, this is for real
Come in; check in; look in; pop in; play a part in; join in;
you-can-win; ain’t-no-sin; hook in; step in; slot in; pitch in
Get tuned in; get tuned in; get tuned in; get tuned in

As a soon to retire teacher, Peter is a later-in-life poet – get writing now younger people! Poetry at 3, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, hosted by Paul McGrane, gave him the confidence to perform his poetry. He usually likes to write poems that make social commentary in the hope that they will resonate with audiences, either confirming their ideas, or getting them to look for different perspectives. He loves rhyme, but doesn’t always use it as he doesn’t want to be straightjacketed. Most of Peter’s poems are written to be performed, “because at open mics you usually only hear them once – I need to give the audience the main ideas in the here and now.” His influences: John Cooper Clarke; Wordsworth; and, of course, the master performers Maya Angelou & Stevie Wonder. The increase in younger poets and open mics is encouraging. He particularly likes: on YouTube ‘Unerase’ Poetry, especially Simar Singh & Priya Malik; and the modern Instagram poet Rupi Kaur.

Third prize, £100: Our Lovely Borough of Green by Kay Taylor, Walthamstow

“I loved the imagery, the rhyming and the way they highlighted the sights of the borough, much like a guided tour. I also liked the conciseness of each of the two lines.”

Our Lovely Borough of Green

Community, community, oh what does it mean?
In Waltham Forest it’s something special to be seen.

It’s a sense of belonging, something in which to take pride,
So once you’ve pushed all the new-builds aside,

You’ll see art on the walls and many a bee friendly street,
Four legged friends and the parks where they meet,

People that smile as they go about their day,
And boats on Hollow Ponds rowing away.

It’s a shared sense of purpose, a quick wave as you go,
It’s the Sunday markets selling goods in Walthamstow,

You’ll find cats and cocktails in The Nag’s Head,
And even the opportunity to adopt a flower bed.

All the way from lower Leyton up to Chingford’s Green,
It’s home to art trails, Lethal Bizzle and E17,

From Big Penny Social to God’s Own Junk Yard,
There’s no way to fit it all on one post card.

So community, community, what does it mean?
Well, the meaning’s right here in our lovely borough of green.

It was whilst studying for a degree in English Language from the University of Leeds, with an additional year spent studying English Literature at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, that Kay discovered her passion for writing. Since graduating, she has spent the past seven years writing mostly in a professional setting whilst crafting content for brands such as Amazon and Twitch. However, this year, Kay began writing into her spare time, attending creative writing workshops in the hope of one day writing a book, and rhyming her words to fuel her creativity. Kay’s a firm believer that writing is good for the soul, whether it’s to immerse oneself in an activity, get one’s thoughts down on a piece of paper or simply writing a good old to-do list.

Commended, Boaters Code by Georgia Howe, Cheltenham

Boater’s Code

Always something needing mending,
a list of repairs never-ending.
Often running out of room,
the water tank empties too soon.

But I wouldn’t change it for the world –
not bricks and mortar, silver, gold.
It’s not easy, have no doubt –
this is what being a boater’s about!

Sometimes lonely but never alone,
for if you make the canals your home
you’ll be part of a strong community –
the boater’s code of camaraderie.

Commended, The Shame by Graeme Darling, Carluke, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

The Shame

Is that huddled figure
Dead or alive?
Last night’s street temperature
Was minus five.
I look away and hurry by,
So I won’t meet the figure’s eye.
Is it a case
Of there
But for the grace,
Go I?
It’s an abdication of responsibility,
A failure of sympathy,
The failure of a HOLE society.
For all those who allow this shame
Must accept their share of the blame.
They say there’s no place like home;
But for some of us, no place IS home.

Graeme Darling lives in Scotland. He loves music from the 60s and 70s, especially the music and lyrics of Ray Davies and Peter Hammill.

Commended, I saw this poem in a dream and cried by Tallulah Howarth, Leeds


Tomorrow, kindness is calling
So, whatever the cost
Tell your lovers you love them
Before they are lost 

Water the wastelands 
To turn into green 
Connect with your neighbours 
Create your own scene 

Tomorrow, kindness is calling 
So, play dot-to-dot
With the stars in the sky
From your stargazing spot 

Walk a little bit slower
Take time to deep-breathe
Remember the best place to wear
Your heart is your sleeve 

Tomorrow, kindness is calling 
And we can’t run away 
In fact, I no longer want to –
Let’s invite her today

Tallulah Howarth (she/they) is a 21-year-old poet, designer and self-proclaimed ‘actorvist’ based in West Yorkshire. They have previously had publications in Young Identity’s Ecosystems of Fury, HEBE and Now Then. In 2019, they were shortlisted in the top five for the BBC Young Writers’ Award, and was shortlisted to represent Manchester in the international Slam-O-Vision. She has a strong foundation in the Manchester poetry scene, and is excited to be finding her footing in the Leeds scene. Her work is observational, philosophical and politically-motivated. They are particularly passionate about foraging, archives and Polish jazz.

Instagram: @tallulahhowarthcreative
Facebook: Tallulah Howarth Creative

Commended, Come Together Gail Webb by West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

Come Together

A found poem, words gathered from Walthamstow Forest Community Hub Facebook page.

We are hiring, befriending,
delivering food and reaching out.
A beautiful community with
stronger futures is back.

Unlock new skills, a legacy
of kindness. Purple heart, green heart.
Local homes and wonderful things
stay safe. This is a free event.

Zoom in pyjamas, pop on a frock,
help us celebrate! Call someone,
have a conversation and grow food
to build up a resilience.

Empty spaces flourish, brighten
someone’s day to make a difference.
Face to face resumes after chaos,
social action, a local food bank.

Go out to parks, find young and old,
deliver Shepherd’s Pie on tearful doorsteps.
Hampers boost connection at Christmas,
with wellbeing walks and a million steps.

It is only cold if you stand alone.

Gail Webb has been writing poetry since 2018. Gail’s pamphlet The Thrill Of Jumping In is published by Big White Shed and explores friendship, grief and loss. She is widely published in anthologies including Poetry And Settled Status For All and the most recent Making Our World Better. In 2021 Gail won the poetry prize in Nottingham Playhouse’s Reflections competition, celebrating the anniversary of Anish Kapoor’s Mirror installation. Nottingham is alive with poetry and Gail is a member of DIY Poets, Gobs Collective and Paper Cranes Collective. Gail is originally from a mining town in South Wales but has lived in Nottingham for most of her life. Writing to the theme of community appeals to her sense of identity and search for connection.

Facebook: Gail Webb Poet
Instagram: poetry_cocktail
Twitter: Poettre

Commended, Word by Word by Rachel Larsen-Jones, Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Word by Word

those words
when they become neighbours.
Do they feel united
alongside their very word?
For alone those words are
the potential to be
Lets join those meanings
create those sentences
as gaps between
and apostrophes
cherish those of belonging.
A making
of a speech or song
creates more than just what
is heard
is written
but together those
words are warm and comforting
all together, word by word.

Rachel Larsen-Jones is an aspiring poet and sound artist from Pembrokeshire. Originally an audiologist but an explorer at heart, she moved out of the soundproof booth and into field recording. Her poetry is often a blend of voicing the beauty and struggles of nature amongst the Anthropocene. She currently lives a nomadic lifestyle with her family in a self-built house on wheels.

LOCAL ADULT POETS PRIZE – for poets who live, work or study in Waltham Forest

First prize, £50 and small pamphlet publication, Over The Fence by Pari Faramarzi, Walthamstow

Andreena: “I liked how the poem felt multicultural through the sharing of food and drink.”

Pari’s poem was also Commended in the Main prize.


Do you have any turmeric?
Or perhaps some porridge oats?

Does anyone have any ice for my rum and coke?
What about a couple of beers across the garden fence?

Or a singalong at sundown, and a WhatsApp chat until bed?

Anyone for a baguette?
I bought one too many
My fridge is full of kindness
My heart as full as my belly

Does anyone know when this will end?
No. Me neither.
Let’s just keep supporting each other.
Let’s put rainbows in our windows.
Stop for chats on the street.
Let’s listen to each other’s rambles
And let us pray.

Let us pray for the day this all goes away.
But let’s hope that when it does.
This community we have built.
Will stay.

Pari first came to poetry during her performance art degree where she created an exhibition that explored the relationship between self and strangers. She has since gone in various directions with her career – starting in technology, then moving into PR & marketing and finally finding a career and way of life in yoga. Pari is now a creative freelancer and teaches yoga. Words have always been the constant and after becoming a mum, poetry has been what she’s needed to help her create, explore and become into motherhood. Pari has always dreamt of writing her own poetry book and after having a child in lockdown has written a number of poems she hopes to publish into a book called “paper planes and panic attacks” – which touches on maternal mental health, love, growth and compassion.

Second prize: Barberette, JP Seabright, Leytonstone

Andreena: “This is about finding your community and being able to express yourself in safe spaces which is really important.”


Under the arches, down the passage way, does
the road even have a name? You’re not sure.
But its red door beckons you in: solid, heavy,
bullet proof, like the doors of a dozen queer
clubs of your youth. The back alleys, the no-name,
the spyhole, the security chains. But not here,
here the doors are open wide, welcoming all,
regardless of gender and sexuality. It’s a
small space but a safe one, and in that sense
it’s a whole wide world of acceptance and respect,
where you can not only be yourself, but become yourself,
fashioned into the person you always imagined you were.
Tailored, coiffured, looking sleek, shaved, cut,
clippered and shit hot. How is something so simple
as equal treatment gender neutral service so radical,
so trailblazing, even in this queer community,
even in London? The London that has lost all
of its lesbian-only spaces, that has gone into
retroheterograde through the move to so-called
‘assimilation’. An approach no more attractive to a person
whose marginalisation is based on the colour of their skin,
than who they choose to sleep with. I don’t want to assimilate,
I want to agitate, alternate, deviate and consummate
with all my queer siblings. But here at Barberette is
where I bring my pink pound now. It’s the only place
I feel at home, where I’m not embarrassed to ask
for a short back and sides. Where queers, non-binary
folx, straights and trans humans of every stripe rub
shoulders and become ~ transformed into
rainbow-winged butterflies dancing in the sun.

JP Seabright is a queer disabled writer living in London. They have three pamphlets published: Fragments from Before the Fall: An Anthology in Post-Anthropocene Poetry (Beir Bua Press, 2021), No Holds Barred (Lupercalia Press, 2022), and GenderFux (Nine Pens Press, 2022). MACHINATIONS, a collaborative experimental work is out winter 2022, and two further pamphlets are forthcoming in 2023. They have been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. More of their work can be found at https://jpseabright.com and via Twitter @errormessage

Third prize, Wild by Rainbow Wilcox, Walthamstow

Andreena: “I like the comparison of the jungles and it felt like a home from home. The poem expressed a worldwide community in a few words. We can find home in far away places and be quite happy there.”

Rainbow’s poem ‘A glow together’ was also Commended in the Local competition


Green parakeet
Squawking like it’s jungle.
Did no-one tell you
This is London
And you’re so far from home?
And yet you seem happy here,
A jungle of a different kind –
Room for everyone
And wild.

Writing since young though only recently sharing her words, Rainbow moved to Walthamstow in the summer and was excited to see the poetry competition advertised at The Rose and Crown pub when collecting her weekly veg box. Working in children’s mental health and training to be a yoga teacher, she enjoys creativity and movement to explore and unfold what’s within and beyond.

Twitter: @rainbow.wilcox
Instagram: @rainbowwilcox and @iris.and.ember

Commended – TWO POEMS – We are all Human and New Normal by Rachel Lyon, Walthamstow

We are all Human

We are all human
We are the same 
With our aches and pains 
Our losses and gains 
Like the coming and going of a tide

The shadows that whisper into our ears
Taking us down the wrong paths and alley ways
The longing, the hope, the lost and the fooled 
The brave and in pain 
We are all human 

Moving in the grinding wheels of time 
We don’t share the scars
But bare them quietly 

Each happy, Each sad 
Each wave a little white flag 
In surrender
That We are all just human
Living our lives

Moving in these grinding wheels of time 
We don’t share the scars
But feel them quietly 

New normal

New normal
Not another tie to ways that bind and break my kind

Not more boxes and lies that define
Tear down walls and masks that hide your beauty that needs to shine

We are a rainbow tribe
On an earth that birthed us
To be as free as the trees and birds

We are unzipping form
Breaking out of prisons
Freedom is a state of mind
Let’s start again
And dismantle the normal

Rachel lives in Walthamstow with artist/partner, Will Bracegirdle. She writes around the themes of nature, spirituality, and reflections on life. Poetry captures her feelings on life and helps make sense of the chaotic. Rachel loves collaborating creatively with Will who creates acrylics around her poems and vice versa. Rachel enjoys reading poetry at Poems Not Bombs (Rose and Crown pub) and local exhibits that supports the local community (@shespeaksupE17 and Wynwood art district). She is currently writing a new collection called Thoughts on Autism.

Instagram: Raisethe_standard

Commended, Soon we’ll have no trees in Waltham Forest by Stephen Harvie, Leyton

Soon, we’ll have no trees in Waltham Forest

Developers have identified opportunities
To benefit the Community
in Waltham Forest.
Substantial shareholder dividends
Will be increased by the relocation
Of an avenue of trees
Whose cool shade and resident wildlife
Are not cost effective
And impede the construction
Of a concrete tower block
Which local residents don’t want.

The Community has previously benefitted
By the demolition of Wood Street Library
And the luxury flats which replaced it.

The Community will soon benefit
From the clearance by Developers
Of Orient Way Pocket Park
And even more luxury flats
Which local residents cannot afford.

Soon, we’ll have no trees in Waltham Forest.

Stephen Harvie is cat aficionado with a passion for literature, Lesney Matchbox cars, and men in rubber. He is originally from Scotland but has lived in London for over twenty years. He actively campaigns on Human Rights, Animal Welfare, and LGBT+ causes. He is currently studying for an MA in English Literature at Queen Mary University of London. www.facebook.com/stephen.harvie.522

Commended, Planting the seeds by Said Fararhi, Walthamstow

Planting the seeds!

Be happy!
You’ve got a roof over your head
Mummy says it’s time to go to bed
Respect the neighbours
Don’t jump on your bed

It’s a sunny Saturday morning
No cars parked on the street
No need to speed
Looking from the window
Active neighbours woke up from their sleep
Youngsters and adults rolled up their sleeves
They have a mission to complete
It’s time to clean every inch of the street

My neighbours are my power station
All year round can generate a stream of motivation
Looking out the window
I felt no hesitation
I grabbed my tools
Off I go and join the celebration

Mums and Dads teaching us the planting of seeds
Our street is a human creation
There are displays of humble creative work of art
That could speed straight into your heart

In our vicinity you can feel thoughts of creativity
In the park parents and kids express priceless felicity
You wouldn’t feel you are lonely in times of adversity
As people typically strive to breed a sense of solidarity
Which symbolizes a strong bonding community
Mums, and Dads have been planting the seeds,
So, we can harvest the best.

Said Fararhi emigrated to England in 1989 from Morocco. He is currently working as an ESOL Teacher for a college in London.

Commended, A glow together by Rainbow Wilcox, Walthamstow

Rainbow also won third prize in the local competition for ‘Wild’.

To glow together

Somewhere between
Here and there
Are magic things
Those liminal spaces
Where streams converge
To dance together
To sing
Where hearts in beat
Remember each other
As candles flickering
Or stars twinkling
They speak:
“I see your bright
You remind me my shine
Let’s ember a little
Let’s swirl
Paint fields with
Currents of light”

(The trees agreed
Then swayed their leaves
With ancient delight)

And in the morning
A dream to carry
Of not so far away things
Close now
Glowing in sight

Commended, Toxic Times by Barbara Campbell, Higham Hill

Toxic Times

We live in toxic times
Crushed by those in powerful places
No respect for our community
Our planet full of plastic waste
Everywhere, birds and fishes can’t get away
Stuck in the gut, struggle to breathe
Choked to death
Is this how we’re supposed to survive

Plastic waste shipped around the world
Destined for the economically poor
Scraping out a living on waste matters
Women and children,
Sifting through the mounts, knee deep
Filling their bags with
Disease ridden, piled high waste
Man, and beast
Compete for a different feast

Barbara Campbell loves reading and has been writing poetry for many years. She has written poems on random pieces of paper and in notebooks and thought no more about them. She would surprise herself when she read them: ‘Did I write that!’ She joined a creative writing and poetry workshop and developed her craft. She has taken a step forward to call herself a poet when she produced her first poetry pamphlet. Her collection of poetry is based on observation of her community and flavoured with Caribbean experiences, sometimes with a sprinkling of Patwa dialect. During lockdown she wrote inspirational poems and posted it on her Facebook page and got great comments. She recently entered two poems in a competition in the Black in White Community Collection Volume 2, both were highly commended out of 86 entrants. The poems are published in the volume. Twitter: @BICpoet55

YOUNG POET MAIN PRIZE – for poets from the UK and beyond

First prize, £50: Building Blocks by Sharon Hood, Waltham Cross

Andreena: “The young person has great insight and is very observant. Finding solace in community but also where community is home. The poem tells a story. I liked how they used the imagery of the house to describe what’s happening inside of the house.”

building blocks

She passed you the bricks
You lifted them with hesitation.
She poured until she was empty
She was blind to your orchestration

You stumbled in the cement
You faltered at the foundations
She built you up relentlessly
She gave you credit for her creations

She tiled and slated the roof while
You slammed the door on her friends
She painted the walls in colour, yet
You saw it through a monochrome lens.

Now, she kicks at the obstinate walls
You made sure they wouldn’t break 
She curated this house for both of you –
She realises the choice ought to make:

Leaving the bittersweet ruins of a dream,
She recalls a place she has always known. 
She finds solace in her community;
Without you, she can return back home.

Sharon Hood is currently a student. She is Black British and advocates in her local community for more diversity in the education system, as well as being involved in her church community. She has been writing poetry since her childhood, inspired by convolutions such as identity and relations.

Second prize, £30, Community by Maleeha Sadiq, Chingford

Andreena: “The poem showed the wholesomeness of community without exclusion. No matter who you are you are welcome and sky is the limit when we get community right, so much can be achieved.”


It’s not a community,
It’s family,
We are one team,
You and me,
Jenny next door,
Jonny furthermore,
We are in this together,
Well…it’s for the better.

We are the same,
No matter your name,
We never shame,
Cuz that’s just lame.

We are a community,
Always in unity,
We do things as one,
Like a home run,
Together we shine,
In a line Together we fly,
And touch the sky.

My name is Maleeha, my nickname is Millie. I am 9 years old and attend Longshaw Primary Academy. I live in Chingford, East London, with my mum, dad, older brother and older sister. My favourite subject in school is Maths. I have always had a keen interest in writing poems. Poems are different because they give me the opportunity to write about how I feel in a different way. Living in a multi-culture society inspired me to write this poem because we are all from different cultures and backgrounds but, we are still one.

Third prize, Set Me Free by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow

Andreena: “The poem is really hopeful and I liked the concept that community can be found in self-love, identity and being yourself. The poem oozed maturity.”

Luca’s poem ‘Community’ was third, and ‘Room for All’ was Commended, in the Local Young Poets prize.

Set Me Free

A flame amongst burnt wood.
A light at the end of the tunnel.
A star in a black night sky.
What is a community to you?
It can be endless things
A sense of comfort
Never felt before.
Found family – community
Self love – community
Identity – community
Lost souls, searching for one of them.
Thoughts and confusion
Strung into a web
Elongated spiders crawl and scatter
Wrapped in a cocoon of spindly string
Community sets me free
Let’s us breath
And love.

My name is Luca. I like playing my guitar, riding my bike and listening to music – but not at the same time. I also enjoy writing short poems, as I think its a good way for young people to express themselves. Since around a year ago, I found that one of my favourite ways to get creative was to write about matters that are important to me, such a climate change, sexism, homophobia etc. I love sharing my poems with my mum, as she herself is also very creative. My dad, on the other hand, enjoys looking at old confusing cars and watching top gear. I am 14, and at around this time last year, i entered this very same competition. I wrote my poem handed it in and didn’t think much of it. However, not much longer my parents called me downstairs, and we danced around after receiving the email that I had come first place! And now, such a long time later, I am so pleased to be back again.

Commended, Community Cravings by Amy Shin, Aberdeen

Community Cravings

I want to ask you this when the sun is setting
dusk dripping red, cradled in a silent room. Where
does Home lie? I’ve looked east, north, west, south
of all corners in my heart. The doctors are telling
me that they cannot cure diseases of the soul.

I’m saying it’s like this. Imagine words dropping
from your mouth like heavy poetry, native tongue.
Ballerinas stretching limbs to pirouette but falling
from Grace. When you eat soured kimchi
out of a tin, too bitter to taste anything like
home. More than two shades away from Home.

We live in places that cannot fit all our seams
that are full to bursting. Doctors tell me they
cannot cure bones that ache from growing pains
in new nations. They cannot touch my
tender, placid heart scraped raw from cultural
administrations. I find myself thinking of
puzzles slotting into bigger pictures.

If I was a puzzle, and you
were the board, the picture is lost
on us both.

Homesickness radiates from my temple,
reaching some disastrous tempo in the mind.
When you see my swollen feet, my swollen
fists shaped like a stolen heart: all they can
think of thievery. I’m a thief. Or perhaps I am
the stolen item, gold in a sea of silver. Maybe
we are fish in a stream, beating past the currents,
united in our single struggle to reach familiar
waters. One cannot tame where the heart

belongs, says my Grandmother. War cannot tame
people. People are left untamed by the War.

I want to ask you for something bigger than myself.
People and hearts beating stronger and not smaller, so
I try not to clench my fists too tight. I am reminded again:
Doctors cannot fix cravings for communities.

Amy Shin is currently a 17 year old aspiring poet and writer who lives in Scotland. When she’s not binge reading terrible romance novels, you can often find her writing poetry or watching TV shows. Her favourite film is Howl’s moving castle and when she finds herself with writers block, she always re-watches it.

Commended, Anti-Social Media by Lydia Mapledoram, Oxford

Anti-Social Media

Tempting screen, what does it mean?
The hours lost trying to be seen,
Curating an image like an artist’s work,
This is our community learning how to twerk.

With the stage of my phone,
I try to hide but I feel alone.
Friends aren’t there, we’re drifting apart.
This is our community clicking the little heart.

False and fake- a slimy snake, the interactions fading.
I scramble for it when I awake, all the while I’m ageing.
Losing a part of my youth as easily as a dime,
This is our community access anytime.

Our theatre is the internet. It gets to us everywhere.
We demand more rules and regs but they just don’t care:
“Have a digital detox, that’ll sort you out,”
This is our community always trying to pout.

The clock has said it’s time for bed,
But I turn it off and tears are shed.
Time is gone but I’ve gained nothing.
This is our community. We are all bluffing.

Lydia Mapledoram is a Sixth Form student studying Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Further Maths in Oxford. Her love of writing and poetry stemmed from a willingness to make sense of the world and, at times, escape it. She is thrilled to be commended for her poem “Anti-Social Media” as this is her first time entering a competition.

Commended, Our Communities by Codie Ndoni, Bishops Stortford

Our Communities

Everyone has a community
No matter who they are
Everyone has a place to belong
Whatever the person,
Whether they live near or far.

Communities should have a nice atmosphere
People should feel welcome
Nobody should be cruel to anyone
Whoever the person
They should be having fun

I am in a community
Where I’m treated very well
Whoever I may be
People pick me up when I fell.

Whoever the person
Wherever they come from
They should all be accepted in a community
Because everyone should belong.

Commended, Poem 2 by Alex Mavrou-Stone, Clapton, London

Poem 2

People of Hackney
Listen clearly;
Cricket in the marshes
Though people are starving
We can’t have that.

People of Leyton
Do Not Debate!
Keep our parks open
We gotta inflate!
That’s what we need.

Do you get our reason?
In our small home region?

People of Newham
(And all the students)
We gotta huge problem
With our tax!
We gotta share it
To the max!
All of London, in fact.

People of London
Do you get our reason?
Now is our season.

Alex Mavrou-Stone is 8 ¾. Gender: Male. Likes: Pineapples, cricket, maths, music, cats and trains. Dislikes: Yoghurt, English, Geography, McDonalds and adverts. Personal Life: I have a really short mum. Height: 4 feet 10.

LOCAL YOUNG POETS PRIZE – for poets who live or study in Waltham Forest

First prize, £50, Community by Inaya Razzaq, Chingford

Andreena: “It’s a poignant reminder of how strong community can be in these challenging times.”

Inaya’s poem was also Commended in the Main prize.


Many have said a good community
Blesses you with strong immunity
They have the power to choose how you grow
And make you feel at home!
But, sadly when one parts ways…
We tend to forget those happy days
At the end of the day,
Those memories sway,
In our head,
Even when we go to bed.
But, a comforting hug,
Can make even the slightest bug
and cower in fear,
So fight the pain
and remember at the end of the day

My name is Inaya, my nickname is Ni or Ni-Ni, which my friends call me. I am 10, almost 11 and attend Longshaw Primary Academy. I live in Chingford with my mum and dad. My favourite subjects in school are English and Art. In my spare time I like to draw, play video games, create arts and crafts, read and write short stories. I saw the competition and really wanted to apply my English knowledge. I felt inspired by the theme of ‘community’ and applied the teachings instilled in me, about that topic, by mum and dad.

Second prize, £30, My Street by Dylan Ware, Walthamstow

Andreena: “I like the observant nature and the description of the street.”

Dylan’s poem was also Commended in the main prize.

My street

On my street kids play football,
They all let out a big call,
The ball gets kicked into the air about a hundred feet tall,
Landing all the way into the shopping mall,

On my street old ladies chat,
Always complaining about their back,
Talking about the sleep they lack,
Doing it all until the sky turns black,

On my street gardeners plant trees,
All for the insects and bugs and the bees,
In Spring they grow lots of leaves,
In Autumn they sway in the breeze,

On my street joggers do their weekly run,
Then stop of at a bakesale for a quick bun,
From the smiling look on their faces they’re having fun,
But I always wonder why they’re going out in the scorching hot sun,

On my street kids kick a ball up and down,
Old ladies chat in their dressing gown,
Trees get planted by the gardeners of the town,
Joggers sprint as if they are going to win a golden crown.

Third prize, £10, Community by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow

Andreena: “I liked how the poem took us on a journey of a day in the life in a descriptive way. I imagined myself travelling through the poem as I read it.”

Luca was also third in the Main prize and Commended in the Local prize.


Shoes tied
Jacket on
Mask pinched over rosy morning cheeks
Frost and sunlight merged to create a cacophony of feeling
Auburn leaves shatter and crumble under heavy London feet
I make my way to my community
As the towns got busier and the clouds grow grey and melancholy,
The faces of the people become mirrored in the puddles on the ground.
I trudge on
Music blasting in my frozen ears
Smoke like steam escaped with every jarred breath I take
Busses red as roses
Cars as blue as the deep sea
I make my descent into Walthamstow market
Voices shout from every corner
Food from all cultures make faces light with joy
Even though these people differ
In shape, colour, height, history, identity and thought.
We all share
This community.

Commended, A day’s work by Frankie Goldhill, Walthamstow

A day’s work

As you walk along the street,
Lots of people you might meet,
A cat,
A dog,
A neighbour,
Or a friend,
Just around the corner bend.

At the park you laugh and play,
In the sunshine of the day,
There you find lots of friends,
Relatives too.

In the shop,
There you pop,
Just to get some dinner,
But then your mom meets a friend,
Meaning this trip is never gonna end.

At pri-
I meant school,
Eating your food in the lunch hall,
Your teacher then sits next to you,
Be careful not to spit and chew.

At your friend’s house,
There you’ll sleep,
But it’s so loud,
You try to count sheep,
It doesn’t work,
So you shout,
“What’s this noise all about!”

At swimming,
You play volleyball,
And accidently hit a kid,
They ask to play,
So you say,
“sure but there are rules you must obey.”

At a red light,
You look out the car,
And from afar,
You see a stranger looking in,
Both people smile,
as the lights turn green.
While the car speeds away,
Like it doesn’t want to be seen.

It’s now night,
And Mr Moon is out,
But no need to strop, worry or pout,
Tomorrow is a brand-new day,
But for right now you need to rest and lay.

Frankie is eleven years old and attends Longshaw Primary Academy in Chingford. Frankie loves school and learning. As such, she is an avid reader and is equally as keen at writing. Her creativity, imagination and writing skill shines through all her compositions, regardless of text type or genre. As a skilled writer, Frankie is proficient in entertaining, intriguing, shocking and evoking many emotions in her audience. Frankie writes for pleasure and entered this competition of her own volition. The theme for her poem was inspired by her previous additional school homework, writing a poem about community. Her family, friends and the whole school community are all very proud of what she has achieved – a very well-deserved commendation.

Commended, Mortality in eternity by Roviha Ishal, Walthamstow

Mortality in eternity

The gradual formation of trust,
Oblivious to the end drawing near,
But all that shines must rust,
As all who live must lose something dear,

Prey to the sins we preach,
As we watch the lights dwindle,
Hopeless as the glimmer escapes our reach,
Lost without the fires we kindle,

Every fear has its remedy,
Until it comes true,
Every event written in your destiny,
Will come and find you,

It is enough to honour the shadows,
Of what could be,
Lost in mazes and meadows,
As a natural community.

Roviha Ishal is in year 10. Pleased to be here.

Commended, Room for all by Luca McNicol Williams, Walthamstow

Luca was also third in the Main prize and third in the Local prize.

Room for All

Big groups, small groups
Old groups, young groups
Groups that you don’t understand
Yet together is a community.
Groups that have a common interest
Groups brought together by chance.
Yet these still. Are communities
Poor communities.
Disadvantaged communities.
Communities that cry for help.
If these are all still communities
Why do we let them cry?
The feeling of a community
Is one of the best to be felt
To be seen
To be heard
Searching for a community
I guarantee there’s one for you.

Commended, No outsiders by Marcia Jackson, Walthamstow

No Outsiders

You may use a wheelchair
You may have autism
You may have down syndrome
But you are our friend – no matter what
You may have dyslexia
You may have anxiety
You may have social troubles
But you are our friend – no matter what
Because we are the big round world
And no outsiders is our rule
So respect and love
Because we are us and you are you.

Marcia is 10 years old and lives in Walthamstow. She loves to read Malory Tower books mainly the funny and dramatic ones. Marcia has a cat called Coco who likes to jump and sit on the top of her bedroom door. Marcia has a great love of laughing, playing with her friends in the playground and swimming or riding her bike to school.

Funniest Poem Category, judged by Barry Coidan and Paul McGrane

First Prize, £100, The Choir by Nairn Kennedy, Leeds

​The Choir

Mrs Johnson, breathless
from the strawberry jam shoot-outs at the WI,
is now a Hebrew slave, singing far too cheerfully
in her pink dress with sky-blue cornflowers,

ignoring Miss Clark, who works at Aldi,
whose wobbly soprano throws the alto section
off the beat, who surely clothes herself from Oxfam,
whose stubby hands won first prize for marrow chutney.

She tunes her ear instead to Mrs Crichton, coveting
her fruity contralto, her understated diamond pendant,
the melting fluffiness of her Genoese sponges,
her husband.

Next week, they’ll line up for Elijah, stretch throats
like starving werewolves, bay incantations,
howl to summon Baal to suburbia.

Nairn Kennedy is a Leeds-based poet whose work has appeared in, amongst others, Orbis, Ink Sweat & Tears, The London Magazine, Stand, The North and Under the Radar. He’s been a prizewinner in the Ilkley Competition, longlisted in the National, and highly commended in the Bridport. When he’s not poeticising, he likes to develop software, and sometimes to walk around parts of Yorkshire, soaking up the scenery. Twitter: @Nairn Kennedy

Commended, Seven squabbling Swansea seagulls by Barry Childs, France

Seven squabbling Swansea seagulls
Were squabbling the day away
They squabbled over everything
From chips to China clay

They squabbled every morning
And into the afternoons
They squabbled on the beach
And they squabbled on the dunes

One day a seagull asked
Why do we squabble all day?
The other six had no reply
And continued squabbling away

Barry Childs is 74 years old. He has been battling cancer for the past three years. He has been a life-long supporter of poetry and rhyme and has always enjoyed reading and writing poems. His poems have been published in magazines, journals, and anthologies worldwide. They have also been aired on various radio stations in the USA and Britain. ‘The Devil Is Coming to Tea’ was longlisted for the Yeovil International Literary Prize in 2020. ‘Grandma’s Dead’ was shortlisted for the Yeovil International Literary Prize in 2021. ‘Marrakech’ was longlisted and commended for the Yeovil International Literary Prize in 2021. He lives in France.

Commended, Space Probe by Keith Massey, Chichester


Is there intelligent life on Venus?
Have curious observers there seen us?
So part of Voyager 2’s space mission
was to elicit some recognition.
Scientists rocketed what they thought worth
extolling the culture of planet Earth.
The Bible, Shakespeare, Mozart, Stravinsky;
paintings by Constable and Kandinsky.
America’s dream would be understood
by Chuck Berry singing ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
At last radio waves reached the station;
leaders gathered in anticipation.
Whoever they are, they do seem merry;
the message just read “Send more Chuck Berry”.

Keith is a retired teacher, living in Chichester, making regular pilgrimages to Larkin’s ‘Arundel Tomb’ in the cathedral. There’s plenty of poetry going on and Keith is fortunate in belonging to a thriving and supportive Stanza group. He’s been writing poems for as long as he can remember, though this does tend to be sporadic; there have been some rather barren stretches. Frost and Hardy were seminal influences; contemporary poets he finds inspiring include Lavinia Greenlaw, Penelope Shuttle and Christopher Reid. He’s especially interested in ekphrastic poetry and currently writing a series of poems responding to Turner’s paintings and drawings.

Commended – TWO POEMS – Frognal and Aksking Mr Bings by Lidl Lebowski, Walthamstow


Where the fuck is Frognal? I see the name each day
But only on a nameplate, as my train passes that way
I’ve never met a soul from there, or alighted at that station
I know it’s somewhere near Finchley Road, but that’s my only information

One day before I die, perhaps, I’ll explore this tantaliser
But for now I like to imagine it – I think that’s somewhat wiser
For reality can never match the images in my head
The village green, the babbling brook, the scent of new-baked bread

There are gates of gold and ermine, and paths of emerald green
The people are friendly, smiling too; the windows all agleam
An omnibus passes, the driver waves, ducks quack, and children laugh
A silent night, with stars aplenty, Burl Ives’s voice from a phonograph

Laughter and cheers from the Frognal Arms, as I pass by the oakwood door
Old Charlie just scored a bullseye, so Tom buys a round once more
The vicar is wearing his football scarf, the willow bends low to the grass
Men and women in flannels play cricket. Nothing bad ever comes to pass

But where the fuck is Frognal? I see the name each day
It’s in my thoughts, my idle dreams, a game I like to play…

I’ll never go to Frognal – No.
My illusions there would shatter
For daydreams set the world aright
And such illusions matter.

Aksking Mr Bings

The wurld is full of sceary things.
I have a bear call Mr Bings.
To him I tell my deepist feers
Whisperd in his furrry ears

Like what whill happen wen I’m groan
An hav no planet for my home
Or how will energey be made
It can’t, like Mr Insteien said.

Like what long sintons I don’t know
Covid I cought not long ago
Cus air bore venty lashen
Was’n there in mitty gashun

But Borris siad oh never mind
The childs are safe and we are kind
To get them gone to skhool again
In case they miss and have no brain

Boris thiks he funny man
But mummy sad he klilled my nan
My dad seys heis verry bad
And me and Mr Bings are sad

And when my dad got dondersee
We have to go to charatey
And food was odl and dady aksed
A man to wood he pleas were maksk

The man was mad and hit my dad
And me and Mr Bings were sad
And mummy siad i blame the guvmint
For somthin liek a band in mint

Like when the aminals an plants
Are dead like david apprur said
And I cant breve and all the ice
Is made to water wont be nice

I liek my bear call Mr Bings
And aksk him why thes tebbil things
But he jus frouns the way he doz
And looks and sais – its jus becawss.

Lidl Lebowski writes some prose and some poetry. He describes the latter: “Mostly of the “deedlede-dee” variety, relying heavily on rhyme and rhythm, as opposed to imagery, which I’m pretty crap at, being lazy with a short attention span. Still – maybe some of it is entertaining or something, maybe engaging, maybe a bit deeper. So that’s ok.

Commended, The Poo Bag Tree by Liz Verlander, Worthing

The Poo Bag Tree

There is never a sight so strange to see
As the fruit laden, bowing, poo bag tree.

When its spring and the weather clement
a poo bag tree blossoms in excrement.
The black plastic fruit will not need flagging
You’ll know its fragrance when you start gagging.

In winter a strong determined breeze
Will bow and shake a poo bag tree
and quietly a bag might drop
in the mud with a gentle plop.

Poo bag trees aren’t to everyone’s taste.
It’s odd to have bushes littered with waste.
But please don’t bother to complain
Frankly, it’ll be in vain.

There is no point- your case will shatter.
They’ll tell you it’s a faecal matter.

Many of Liz’s poems have been inspired by her career. She began in mental health and learning disabilities nursing, then worked in a refuge with victims of domestic violence. She is now deputy manager of a homelessness hostel. She’s had success in the Indie press including Pulsar, Penpusher, HQ, Reach, Shot Glass Journal and most recently Literary Mama. She’s also been published in Doing December Differently, Wild Goose 2006. She’s had a poem on local radio and on the Greenham Women Everywhere website. She’s performed in recent years and supported Alan Davies and Jenny Éclair at her local theatre as part of an initiative to promote local acts. Liz was shortlisted in the Isobel Hospice National poetry competition in December 2019 and was 3rd in the 2005 National  Poetry Fair trade competition winning about her weight in chocolate! This was judged by Adrian Mitchell. Liz lives in in Worthing with her husband and dog. facebook.com/LizVerlanderPoet 

Commended, Doggies in Heaven by Jessica Wasiolek, Molehill Green, Essex

Doggies in Heaven

All doggies go to heaven
(or so I’ve been told!)
They run and play along
the streets of gold.
Why is heaven such a
Why, because there is no
cat in sight.

Congratulations 👏👏👏 to Cat Turhan who won the 2021 Waltham Forest “best adult poem”, judged by Joelle Taylor, and is one of three poets picked for the the Emerging Poets Development Scheme, launched by independent publisher Out-Spoken Press, in partnership with Spread The Word and New Writing North. The Waltham Forest Echo have reported on it here… 

The 2022 competition, judged by Andreena Leeanne, is open now bit.ly/wfpoetrycomp

Cat Turhan (right) with 2021 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition judge Joelle Taylor

Congratulations to Walthamstow poet Joelle Taylor who has been elected as a Royal Society of Literature Fellow for 2022. To be nominated as a Fellow, a writer must have published or produced two works of outstanding literary merit. Joelle was the judge of our Waltham Forest Poetry Competition last year (photo shows Joelle performing at the awards ceremony). The 2022 competition, judged by Andreena Leeanne, is open now.

Meet Andreena Leeane – our 2022 poetry competition judge

ANNOUNCEMENT! Walthamstow’s Andreena Leeanne will judge the 2022 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition on the theme of COMMUNITY. We’ll launch in late June/early July so plenty of time before we ask you for your lovely poems.

Andreena was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize in 2021, awarded annually to a debut book that explores the LGBTQ+ experience. www.andreena.co.uk

Hi everyone, you’re invited to a very special Zoom event on Monday 14 March 8pm featuring the winners of the Waltham Forest Poetry Competition, as chosen by TS Eliot winner Joelle Taylor. Readers include the winner Jane Burn. Each poet will read their winning poem.

FREE event on ZOOM.
BOOK AT https://poetryshowcase.eventbrite.co.uk

Our readers will be LOCAL PRIZE WINNERS Hannah Chutzpah (Commended in Local Prize), JP Seabright (3rd in Local Prize), Pierre Lassegues (2nd in Local Prize) and MAIN PRIZE WINNERS
Zelda Chappel, James McDermott, Sara Levy, Helen Bowie, Sarah Davies, Caroline Bracken, Laurie Bolger (all Commended), Dillon Jaxx (3rd), Amelia Loulli (2nd), Jane Burn (winner).

The competition received over one thousand entries from across the globe and the UK. All the poems were read and judged by Joelle Taylor, who gloriously went on to win the TS Eliot prize for C+nto & Othered Poems.

You can read all the winning poems on the competition webpage: https://pctothepowerof2.wordpress.com/2021/12/10/834/

It was wonderful to hear last week that our 2021 Competition judge, Joelle Taylor, has been announced as the winner of the £25,000 T S Eliot Prize for her look at butch lesbian counterculture in the 1990s, C+nto & Othered Poems, praised by judges “as a blazing book of rage and light, a grand opera of liberation from the shadows of indifference and oppression.