Amber Donovan-Stevens Featured Poet


No Place Like ‘Home’

Dorothy clicked her shoes: Once, twice, thrice,
wishing to return home.
A thousand ages descended upon her,
returning her to dusty Kansas.
Where was her sepia dream-land?
She was greeted by an indifferent city.

Foreign faces with copper brown tans
chatter in twisted tongues.
The moon appears, the orchestra begins.
Ten hundred thousand insects,
rub their wings together,
for an endless night of noise.

Dorothy stood lost in the land she knew so well.

How long had she been gone? Oz made Kansas seem lost,
dustbowl desert, yielding loneliness.
The Witch of the North,
sprawled across Hooters billboards.
Where was her lion-hearted friend,
her man in tin armour to save her from this world?

Ruby red slippers now myth,
replaced with thrift-shop jelly shoes.
Somewhere over the rainbow lies lost 1939.
This state had long been left to the story books.

To be born here is to die here,
isolation is the real killer.
Not a friend in all three million,
as stray as cats and dogs that roam the street.

The scarecrow hung in the cornfield
is not your friend.
You can turn to Wendy, Papa John, Ronald McDonald.
They’ll see you don’t lose your way.
Drown your sorrows in Blue Ribbon,
that once held up your hair so beautifully.

Send Munchkins through metal detectors,
and hope they get something out of today,
because today is the same as tomorrow.
This isn’t Kansas Dorothy,
not as you know it.
Now try and look for yesterday in tomorrow.


Amber Donovan-Stevens is Poet Laureate at her school, currently studying English, History and Art at A Level. Her Poem ‘ No Place Like Home’ won Gold at the Canterbury Festival Schools’ Competition and was published with other poems in the online broadsheet “Agenda”. 


Canterbury Poet of the Year 2014


Terms and Conditions

  1. Entry is open to all adults over the age of 18 on 2 October 2014. National and International entries are welcome.  Any number of poems may be submitted, but no alterations may be made to a poem once it has been submitted.
    1. 2.     The closing date for the competition is Friday 20 June 2014. Entries must be posted by 12:00 midnight on that date or delivered to: Adult Poetry Competition, Canterbury Festival Office, 8 Orange Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2JA. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy.
    2. 3.     The entry form and entry fee of £5 must accompany each poem. Payment should be in the form of a cheque made out to “Canterbury Festival Foundation (Friends)”. Only one entry form and one cheque need be sent, even if several poems are submitted. We are unable to accept email entries or online payment.
    3. The poem or poem sequence may be on any subject and in any style, but must not exceed 60 lines in length. Entries are judged anonymously and the poet’s name and address should not appear on the poem itself
    4. Handwritten entries cannot be accepted. Entries should be typed in black ink on A4 paper. Please do not staple entries
    5. Entries must be the poet’s original, unpublished work (including on any website, blog, online forum or broadcast medium) and not accepted for publication before the Awards Evening on2 October 2014. Ownership remains with the poet at all times; The Festival will not assume any share in copyright. The Canterbury Festival is not responsible for any claim of plagiarism, which will be directed to the poet alone.
    6. The poem should be written principally in English; incidental foreign words/phrases and the use of regional variants are permitted.
    7. Poems will be sent anonymously to the judging panel:
      – Derek Sellen ( award winning poet – Gillian Laker (Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2013) and Luigi Marchini (Chairman of SaveAs Writers Group)
  2. The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel.
    1. The judges’ decision is final.
    2. A longlist of entries will be selected for inclusion in the 2014 Anthology. Longlisted poets will be asked to re-submit the selected poems by e-mail in order to aid publication.
    3. Shortlisted poets will be asked to read their poems at the Awards Evening on 2 October 2014 (or to nominate a reader to do this on their behalf) and the winning poems will be announced on the night.
    4. The poets will receive a free copy of the Anthology at the Awards Evening. The Anthology will be on sale at the Awards Evening and from the Festival offices after the event.
    5. The Awards Evening will take place on Thursday 2 October 2014 commencing at 8.00pm – venue to be announced – and will take the form of a public ticketed event as part of the Canterbury Festival.
    6. The evening will include readings of the shortlisted poets Prizes will be awarded for the Winner, 2nd and 3rd places, the “Best Read Poem” and the “People’s Choice” voted for on the night. The Winner will be named ‘Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2014’ and will receive a book token for £50.00 plus a half case of wine, 2nd and 3rd Prize winners will receive book tokens for £25.00 each, the “Best Read” Prize will be a bottle of sparkling wine and the “People’s Choice” will receive a book token for £20.00.

For further details and an application form click here.

Sue Rose

Featured Poet: Sue Rose

Sue Rose
(from the Heart Archives)

It had been so long since she’d heard
the reassuring pace of another’s heart
at her ear—she pressed her head
here, below my shoulder’s hard
girdle and the soft upper of my breast,
and slipped into the worn rest
of the old, soothed by the serenade
of my heart, its secrets husbanded;

she’d slept alone in their double bed
for years, silence ballooning around her,
but I sat rigid, oppressed by her need,
when I should have hugged this woman
who once listened to my heart’s patter
inside her, I should have stroked her head.

Sue Rose works as a literary translator and has published various novels, libretti and plays in translation. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies and she has been commended or placed in competitions such as the National Poetry Competition, the Peterloo and the Wigtown. She won the Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2009 and the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Competition in 2008. She has recently started tutoring for organizations like Oxford University and the Chateau Ventenac in France.
Her debut full-length collection, From the Dark Room, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2011. “This collection is rich with the life of the body, with flesh, seed, sex, blood, birth, family love, all in language that is brave and tender.” (Gillian Clarke).

Reviews here: http://londongrip.co.uk/2011/10/poetry-review-autumn-2011-rose-stein/
and http://sheenaghpugh.livejournal.com/71406.html
Other links: http://peonymoon.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/sue-roses-from-the-dark-room/

The featured poem is from Heart Archives, a chapbook to be published by Hercules Editions in February 2014. For more information and/or to get involved, see: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/heart-archives

A second collection, The Cost of Keys, is due out from Cinnamon in November 2014.