Competition 2021: The Winners

We are pleased to reveal the names of the winners, highly commended and commended poets chosen by judge Seán Hewitt. With grateful thanks to Seán for all his work; much gratitude also to Rachel Davies for processing the competition entries; and finally, thank you to all entrants and all those who helped us to share the competition. A competition Zoom event with Seán Hewitt and the winners will be held on 4 May (details to follow).        

First Prize:
‘Sitting For Caravaggio’ by Julian Bishop

Second Prize:
‘Untitled (The hallways)’  by Hugo Jeudy

Third Prize:
‘Lately, I have found myself wondering whether I could be a body’ by Zelda Chappel

Highly Commended Poems

Paul Stephenson
Rose Segal
Alex Matraxia

Commended Poems

Ian Macartney
Mícheál McCann


Julian Bishop: First Prize

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London who was recently longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. A member of the collective group Poets For The Planet, he’s also a former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry and one of four prize-winning poets featured in a 2020 pamphlet called Poems For The Planet. contact: twitter @julianbpoet Poems For The Planet available at:


Seán Hewitt’s Comments

From the moment I read this poem, I was arrested by its control, its atmosphere, the precision of its images and the dark, tense story it unfolds. It is at once delicate and alarming in its exploration of power, art, and erotics. “Although we never // touch, I feel his fingers flicker over me.” You can almost feel your own breath fluttering while you read it, such is the skill of the writing, the gradual submersion, the attentive detail. As I read the entries, it was this poem that I found had seared itself into my memory. It refuses to be forgotten.

Hugo Jeudy: Second Prize 

Hugo Jeudy is a high-school student currently living in Paris, France. This is his first publication.






Seán Hewitt’s Comments

This poem is full of images I couldn’t stop thinking about. Everything first seems characterised by a sort of spectral absence: the almonds no longer falling from a hand, something lent and not returned, the silence of the windmills, all are brought into focus by the opening image of the lacerated body. The syntax is daring and subtle, stranging the lines, slowing the pace so that each word feels carefully and deliberately placed. I was never sure what was happening, but, as with the best poems, this one opened a place for mystery, for meaning carried by a haunting, insistent music.

Zelda Chappel: Third Prize

Zelda Chappel’s first full collection of poetry, The Girl in the Dog-tooth Coat, was published in 2015 by Bare Fiction Press. Her work has been published in a number of journals, magazines and anthologies both online and in print, including Butchers Dog, Interpreters House, RAUM and Under the Radar.





Seán Hewitt’s Comments 

I was startled by this poem’s careful and moving attempts to locate the self. In putting forward a lyric “I” that ‘has no fixed coordinates’, the poet manages to expand its possibilities, incorporating things outside the body into a fluid concept of selfhood. It’s a vulnerable and yet an assertive poem, full of rich images that push our understanding of where we exist, and how.


About Janet Rogerson

Janet Rogerson
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2 Responses to Competition 2021: The Winners

  1. Ann Heathcote says:

    What wonderful competition winning poems – well deserved. Thank you Janet and Poets&Players for sharing them. Much appreciated.


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