And the winners are …

Maryport LitFest and Mungrisedale Writers ran poetry competitions recently, and both announced their winners within weeks of each other.

There was a strong showing from poets based in Cumbria – Joanne Weeks and Annie Foster took 2nd and 3rd prizes at Maryport’s ‘Beyond the Frontier’ competition, judged by Josephine Dickinson.

Mungrisedale Writers’ member John Fryer picked up 2nd prize in their competition, themed as ‘Looking Back’ and judged by Grevel Lindop.



Joanne Weeks
Old Times

The room seemed crowded,
Everyone there for their own ends.
                                                                     She wanted to lift the lid,
                                                                     See inside,
                       instead, deliberately
Plumbed her bag for diversion.

The room seemed beset by eyes,
Evasive, secretive, covetous,
Some vitrified, disembodied.
                                                                     Hers slipped over the wood,
                                                                     Dark, stained,
                       unlike the piano’s,
Lip-curl lid drawn back in
Grotesque snarl, ebony rot between
Ivory teeth, wood sun-bleached,
No SPF in beeswax.

The room seemed hushed,
Voices eaten behind hands.
                                                                     Her hands hungered to caress,
                                                                     Follow the wake,
                       while others’
Roved over porcelain, pictures, curios,
Hoping for hidden Midas-marks.

                                                                     Unobtrusively, she raised the lid
                                                                     And, after all these years,
                                                                     Came face to face with her father.


Joanne Weeks is a Manxwoman who came to Cumbria as a student and stayed. She has taught English in Maryport, Cockermouth, and Keswick Schools. She was a runner-up in the 1997 Northern New Writers’ Awards and the 2007 Mirehouse Poetry Competition. Previous publication credits include three poems in Speak to the Hills – An Anthology of 20th Century British and Irish Mountain Poetry (eds Hamish Brown and Martin Berry, Aberdeen University Press, 1985).



Annie Foster
Gerda’s Last Word

I have done it all once;
listened to sad stories of flowers,
spoken with the raven, false hope of you,
robber maiden and the journey
over snow with reindeer,
Lapland woman, Finland woman.
Then, summoning every particle
of courage, warmth and life,
I braved the ice palace to find you.

As I approached, you cried out in pain,
shielded your face with a hand
so you could not see me.
Your hardness made me cry fierce tears.
I would not give up
so I sang, through a tight throat,
our song of roses, lilies and the sea.
Finally you were moved;
the ice splinters in your eye, your heart,
melted away and you were released.

But this you must understand, beloved Kay,
that if you, of your own free will,
return to the frozen safety,
I have not the power now to enter
the halls of the Queen,
I cannot come again,

I will wait here in our familiar room,
where the clock ticks, the roses bloom.
I will sing our hymn, though my voice is thin
and if you come home I will be glad.


Annie Foster has been published in various anthologies, including The New Lake Poets (Bloodaxe Books) and Flambard New Poets 1. She taught for a short time on the Creative Writing BA at Cumbria Institute of the Arts and was a regular at the Speakeasy open mic nights at the Source Cafe in Carlisle. She was also involved (with Malcolm Carson) in Border Poets, organising the Small Presses Big Voices series of readings at Tullie House Museum. She lives in Carlisle.


John Fryer
the apprentice’s poker

glistening shining like a fresh caught sole
the indentured apprentice serves
to be a tradesman is what he yearned
becoming skilled in a servile process

with one year gone and four to go
the apprentice gains some credence
now allowed among machines
to make his own creation

a work of art perhaps not so
but crafted and turned to prod and poke
purposefully made to serve its time
in a warming hearth based role

apart from a lathe and drilling machine
he needed thirteen inches of silver steel
screwed each end to meet its needs
for the point and ornate handle

there were bits of brass bakelite and steel
and grey aluminium for in between
all drilled and tapped and screwed up tight
ready for mounting in the waiting lathe

with the business end in the driving chuck
the other spinning in a tightened stock
and its tool block locked on a hardened cutter
the lathe set off on its ragged trip

like a barber’s hand shaving and cutting
a spectrum of swarf with many shades
the apprentice’s poker came to life
contoured to suit the user’s style

with smokeless zones across the land
and coal confined to power generation
the implement had a ceremonial role
sparkling, gleaming now only on show

but the poker survived because of who made it
and how it emerged from scraps and steel
using drills and taps with two machines
and the emery sheets that made it gleam


John Fryer came to live in Cumbria as a child and spent his working life in industry before retiring in the late 90s. A keen hill walker, he has always had a great love of the Lake District. A member of Mungrisedale Writers’ Group, he is working on a novel but derives much pleasure from writing poetry.