Poetry Prize: Reemergence

The results are in for our 2020 Reemergence Prize. We are happy to announce the winner is Susan Shepherd, you can read Susan’s poem, ‘The Flodden Horses’, followed by the judges’ report below. The judges also drew up a long list and those poets are listed in the report.

ImageSusan Shepherd lives in the Scottish border town of Coldstream, where she works as a freelance journalist. Her first pamphlet, Wood End, was published by Shoestring Press in 2019 and her poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House and The Poets’ Republic. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University. With her passion for history and a reporter’s eye, she often seeks to re-tell a story, or re-imagine events, through poetry.


The Flodden Horses
for Martha

No one had drunk himself foolish in the Newcastle Arms that year.
Bad weather on Cheviot
did not concern the Men’s Shed crew
who had not spent the first Sunday in August
threading the lampposts of the border town with bunting.

On Thursday
trailers did not cram the taped-off meadows of the Lees;
only Shorty McCann, in plastered overalls, walking to his builder’s van, stopped
to film an otter in the Leet Water.
And Sally Moffatt, returning from the night shift at Morrison’s
weighted with carriers
paused to look
but could see nothing.

By eleven o’clock, rain had arrived and the undiverted traffic
thundered on to Edinburgh.

Afterwards, those who witnessed it would say:
it began where the poplars had stood
until Foreman the butcher – newly retired to Orchard Cottage – felled them
to improve his view.

First came the Destriers, prized by knights, easy to train for war.
Then the Rouncers and the Coursers, flanks built for speed,
and the agile Palfreys men-at-arms prefer.

Next the Jennets and the Ambling horses, good for long distance.
And bringing up the rear, one Powys pony,
of gentle temperament, hardy and calm.

And all were riderless, none burnt or scarred.
And every ear of every mare and gelding
twitched intact in the shimmering air;
and no flesh was pierced by an English bill.

Score by shadowy score, they streamed across McGregor’s fields
forded the Tweed at a long-forgotten crossing point
(which Geoff from Calico House later said
had been popular for picnics
in his grandfather’s day)

and were last seen entering an alder grove on the Cornhill side
on a track below Branxton Moor,
not yet spoils of battle; the Welsh pony keeping up
with a flick of his fine, grey tail.

You can watch Susan reading ‘The Flodden Horses’ on our YouTube channel:

Judges’ Report

Thank you to all those who entered our Poets & Players 2020 Prize on the theme of ‘Reemergence’. There was a fantastic response, which made our job as judges both difficult and rewarding. The number of poems and the breadth of subject matter were both surprising, and even more gratifying was the quality. We certainly had enough to fill a magazine, and it was hard choosing a winner. That said, the poem we have chosen won by a clear head.

We’re pleased then to announce that the prize goes to ‘The Flodden Horses’ by Susan Shepherd. This poem is powered by the sheer delight of its inundation of ghostly horses set among the normalities of life in the Borders. It delighted us by the skill of its timing, its lightness of touch, its humorous tone and the assurance of its animating detail. However, it does invite us to think, and be grateful that the horrors of that battle, hinted at in the third to last stanza, have become so distant.

We originally aimed to name no names other than the winner but the response was too strong. We decided it would be wrong not to highlight other authors whose poems came close at the finish. In alphabetical order these are:

Liz Byrne
Alison Campbell
Catherine Edmunds
John Gallas
Christopher M James
Janet Hatherley
Hazel Hutchinson
Vanessa Lampert
Jane Lovell
Sammy Weaver

We don’t mention titles so as to leave them free for anonymous submission elsewhere.

The Reemergence Prize is now closed. Thank you and good luck to everyone who entered.



As you all know we have been unable to stage any events at the Whitworth since February and this situation is likely to continue into the new year, so we thought if we can’t see you all in person we could instead invite you to write some new work, and with this in mind we are opening up a themed prize that will be judged by the Poets & Players team (all entries will be judged anonymously). This prize isn’t to replace our annual competition, for which we have already lined up an excellent judge (to open towards the end of the year). But in the meantime why not give this one a go, there’s a modest entry fee of just £2 per poem (3 for £5) and we would really love to read your interpretations of our theme.


PRIZE: £300


The subject is REEMERGENCE (reemerge/reemerging) and you may interpret this in any way you wish. The winning poet will receive a payment of £300 plus the opportunity to read their poem at a Poets & Players event (date to be confirmed). Please find below an Entry Form together with the rules. The winner will be informed by Wednesday 16 December 2020 and will be invited to read at an event in 2021 (date to be confirmed). If you have not been notified by 16 December 2020, we are afraid you have not been successful.


  • The Prize is open to anyone over the age of 16, except for members of the Poets & Players committee.
  • Poems must be in English, typewritten in single space, font size 12. Please begin each poem on a new page but multiple entries should be contained in a single document.
  • Poems are to be written on the theme ‘reemergence’ (reemerge/reemerging), but can be in any style or form. All submissions must be the author’s own original work. They should not have appeared anywhere before, online or in print. Please do not submit poems that are currently under consideration elsewhere.
  • Maximum line length for individual poems is 40 lines (excluding title). Please do not include photographs or illustrations.
  • No changes can be made to poems once submitted and we regret that we are unable to provide feedback or make any refunds.
  • You may submit as many poems as you wish, accompanied by the appropriate payment and Entry Form/s.
  • Please note that all entries must reach us by Monday 16 November 2020, 12 midnight (GMT). Entries arriving after this date will not be considered.

ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form (see the link below):

ENTER BY EMAIL ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form (see the link below):

Reemergence entry form 2020

Please email the completed Prize Entry Form and poems to reemergence2020@gmail.com. All email entries will be acknowledged.

  • Please ensure that all poems are sent as a single attachment and not in the body of the email. Please use your name as the title of the document (poems and Entry Form can be in the same document but must be on separate pages). If you are submitting more than one poem you should include them all in the same attachment but please ensure pages are numbered and start each poem on a new page. Single spaced and font size 12. Please save documents as doc or docx.
  • You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the Entry Form/s.
  • Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
  • Closing date is 16 November 2020 (entries may be submitted up to 12 midnight (GMT) on this date).
  • Entry fee is £2 per poem or 3 poems for £5. Payment to be made by PayPal. IMPORTANT please include the PayPal reference number on the Entry Form.
      • Single poem £2 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards
      • Three poems £5 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

CHECKLIST: Completed Entry Form including PayPal reference; poems on separate sheets (with no identifying information).

COPYRIGHT The winner retains copyright of their poem, however, we would hope to receive permission to make a video recording of the winner reading at the awards ceremony for our website, and to publish the winning poem on our website and/or in the Whitworth Art Gallery.