Buzzwords Poetry Competition

Closing date: midnight on 23rd August 2015Alison
Sole Judge: Alison Brackenbury who will read all entries

1st prize-£600. Runner-up- £300. 5 x commended-£50 each.
The Gloucestershire Prize- £200. (for Gloucestershire residents only).

Postal entries:

Download postal instructions and entry form here
Entry fees: Postal entries; £4 per poem or 3 poems for £10.
Email entries will carry a surcharge for PayPal & printing costs:
One poem £4.35, two poems £8.70, three poems £11

Proceeds of the competition will be used to fund ‘Buzzwords’, which is the longest running and most respected regular poetry gathering in Cheltenham.
“A warm, intelligent – and going on the evidence of the floor readings – a very talented group, Buzzwords was a great venue for reading and listening.” – George Szirtes

Rules of Entry.
1. Poems should be no longer than 70 lines.
2. No translations are accepted.
3. Poems must not have been previously published in print or on the internet.
4. Entries must be clearly typed on single side(s) of A4 paper in a clear font e.g. Arial 12 point. No curly or obscure fonts please.
5. Please leave a reasonable margin on the paper so that it is legible when printed and kept in a file.
5. Handwritten entries will not be considered.
7. Entrants’ names should not appear on the poems. An entry form or covering letter or email should accompany all entries and contain name, phone number, address, email address and titles of poems entered.
8. Entries must be received by midnight on 23rd August; postal entries will be accepted if they are postmarked no later than 21st August.
9. Entries for the Gloucestershire prize should mark their poems with ‘GL’ in the top right hand corner.
10. Gloucestershire, for the purposes of the competition, includes South Gloucestershire
11. Entrants may enclose an s.a.e. marked ‘Results’ for postal notification of the prize-winners or state in their cover letter/email that email notification is preferred.
12. Results will also be published on the Buzzwords Competition Website.
13. Prize winners will be contacted by October 2015; winners will be welcome to read their poems at the next ‘Buzzwords’
14. The judge’s decision will be final and we regret that no correspondence will be entered into.
15. Copyright will remain with the competitor, but Buzzwords reserves the right to publish the winning poems on the website, or to use them in publicity, for 12 months after the results are announced.
16. Poems may not be altered after entry.
17. Cheques should be clearly made out to ‘Cheltenham Poetry Cafe’.

Further details Buzzwords Poetry


Magma 59 London Review Bookshop launch


Last night’s launch at the London Review Bookshop was a great evening, a friend said, “worthwhile and life enhancing”. There are so many poetry events going on that it is hard to make time to attend many of them, so this one was extra special because it was a brilliant venue, the poets reading were a pleasure to hear and Lorraine Mariner and Colette Bryce held the audience spellbound.

Roberta James and Alex Pryce edited this issue – they wanted, “poems of such creative energy, poems that show how words strain under the burden yet still let in the light.” I think they got them. If you haven’t thought about subscribing, have a think about it now and follow this link: Magma

A couple of poems from their site and, oh yes, one of them is mine 😉


By William Stephenson

Around five, when the Polish girl touches my elbow
to lead me downstairs to eat, the curtains ignite
like the shot-down Messerschmitt I saw;
struts exposed, ribs of a crackling corpse.
A hot turpentine wash as the drop-tank explodes;
the pilot dangles from his chute five fields away,
an exclamation mark punctuating the sky.

I assemble the memory. It comes in prefab parts
whose tapering extrusions grip the frame;
an Airfix kit I stick together, propeller, fuselage,
cannon. If my eyes could cope I’d find my old
darning tin, unravel a thread, hang the model,
tap it so it twists; evasive action. But cataracts
shrivel the world; residue flakes off a dry seam;

I see only the corpse of glue. Still, this evening,
when the sun crashes into room 209,
I teeter on the cockpit’s lip, bail out and
fly, leaving the shell to fry in kerosene.
Halfway from heaven, I watch the horizon
yaw and right itself, the silk dome fill.
The Polish girl screams, a plunging engine.


Nesting in the Wardrobe

By Abegail Morley

She takes her child-small hands from her pockets, shakes them
till her fingers tingle at the pads, shelters air in her palms
as if it were a white-blue egg that might just wake.

Her time ticks in shameful hours – cedared, Yardley-soaped,
she hides at the back behind black dresses, chiffon blouses,
knee-high boots until the lolling egg rolls from her grasp, white-blue,

slips from her fingertips and she watches it (as if in slow motion)
collide with the edge of the wardrobe door. Skull first,
it’s struck like plate glass and she’s stuck in no man’s land

with only startled air and centimetres between them.
Her voice, huddled in her throat, lets out only the slightest sound,
amniotic fluid flows in rivulets down her wrists, spills like silk.

Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury: Featured Poet


They were everywhere. No. Just God or smoke
is that. They were the backdrop to the road,

My parents’ home, the heavy winter fields
from which they flashed and kindled and uprode

the air in dozens. I ignored them all.
‘What are they?’ ‘Oh – peewits – ‘ Then a hare flowed,

bounded the furrows. Marriage. Child. I roamed
round other farms. I only knew them gone

when, out of a sad winter, one returned.
I heard the high mocked cry ‘Pee – wit , ‘ so long

cut dead. I watched it buckle from vast air
to lure hawks from its chicks. That time had gone.

Gravely, the parents bobbed their strip of stubble.
How had I let this green and purple pass?

Fringed, plumed heads (full name, the crested plover)
fluttered. So crowned cranes stalk Kenyan grass.

Then their one child, their anxious care, came running,
squeaked along each furrow, dauntless, daft.

Did I once know the story of their lives,
do they migrate from Spain? or coasts’ cold run?

And I forgot their massive arcs of wing.
When their raw cries swept over, my head spun

With all the brilliance of their black and white
As though you cracked the dark and found the sun.

Alison Brackenbury
(Published in Poetry London)

Alison Brackenbury was born in Lincolnshire in 1953 but now lives in Gloucestershire. Her most recent collection is ‘Singing in the Dark’. Carcanet, 2008. ‘A quiet lyricism and delight’. The Guardian. New poems can be read at her website. She also has a Facebook group, Poems from Alison, which sends out a free new poem every two months, and can be found on the dreaded Twitter, with poetry links and the odd bumblebee, as ABRACKENBURY.