booking line 01482 392699
booking line 01482 392699
Bridlington Poetry Festival
12 - 21 june 2015

Bridlington Poetry Festival
Church Lane, Sewerby YO15 1EA
Council Offices
Skirlaugh HU11 5HN

Philip Larkin Society and East Riding Poetry Prize Winners 2015

And the results are out!

Our wonderful judge, Jean Sprackland, had this to say about the difficult task of judging the 2015 competition -


'Judging this competition was an absorbing task – so many strong poems, and so very varied in theme, form and style. Poetry reading is slow reading, and I enjoyed spending time with these poems, letting them grow and develop as I came back and back to them, feeling the strongest of them take hold of my own imagination and not let go. The final decisions were very difficult because the poems were so different that it was hard to compare them. In the end, it is just as Emily Dickinson said: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?'


So with no further ado....our 2015 Philip Larkin and East Riding Poetry Prizewinning Poems. Huge congratulations to all. 




Three stops from St. Francis Comprehensive

Mel Pryor


Fuckyou says he was eight when he got his first pube

twelve when he touched a girl’s breast and with so much

success so young how come he can’t now get laid

not even by minger Nadine from swimming club

whose pubes are not so much triangle as square down there

and I say lower the tone won’t you I’m still nursing a gut load

of Coco Pops Throbber asks if clitoral is a compound word

you know like toothpaste and I say I don’t think so

since clitoral doesn’t have anything to do with oral does it

and Fuckyou says of course it bloody does you arsenokoitai


when the geezer gets on I’m focusing down on my groin

who’s lifting his lid at fantasy retinal splashes of Meena

fellating and I’m sure where the beast with two backs

is concerned she’s got Shakespearian class (and her arse

yes her arse) and her scent is blown roses with a whisper

of lime like the memorial playground where I touched her hair

but she doesn’t get on at her usual stop only the geezer

who’s sweating Niagaras and blubbing a waterfall pouring

of prayer and it takes all sorts sniggers Throbbber removing

his wallet and the geezer’s bent double under a rucksack


so school prefect Fuckyou leaps up acting all  keen puffs out

his badge like it’s a Victoria Cross says take this seat here

the geezer’s a goner eyes shrinking to annite in schist

but I’m thinking of Meena and the mole she has there

where cheekbone meets world only love in my heart

when roof descends and air screams through silent lips

and metal dissolves on limbs on the mercury scar of the rail

I’m fending off kisses of fire as I pass through the ghost

of double-glazed faces splashed in the window’s eye look down

and see Fuckyou a turban of brain a crucifix body of nails






Margaret Gleave


You think sheep's heart from Redman's Butchers

for dissecting in Biology; a trail of pipes,

a glisten of purple muscle.


I think love hearts, pastel pink, violet;

be my valentine piped in red;

a bitter February day, scouring sweet shops.


You study four chambers - atria and ventricles -

pumping out bright arterial blood;

embracing its dark venous return.


I picture the necklaces we both wore;

two halves of a heart, together a perfect whole:

forever, ever friends.


Forget Galen. Think Harvey:

circulation is a figure of eight,

the heart at its core: infinity.


I dream first love - a bird fluttering

against the ribs of its cage.

JSB = MDP engraved on a sycamore.


You diagnose cyanotic disease;

heart sick, a failing organ missing a chamber,

or aortic stenosis - stone heart.


I believe the lore of Ancient Egypt :

after death a man's worth is measured

by balancing his heart with a feather.



Nodding Acquaintances

John Whyndham Tatum


He stands behind his box hedge,

looks out across waist-high corn;

his house, behind him,

melts into shadows of trees.


Distance has removed his features,

the cornfield, between us,

separates our worlds;

there is no road from here.


Perhaps time will place us

somewhere else, shaking hands

amid large conversations

and the clink of glasses;


although not recognising

ourselves as those two

who watched each other an instant

across a barrier of corn.





Sarah Stutt


It began yesterday, when the cherry tree turned

from green to yellow to russet in a single day,

when four long swans flew low over the garden,

necks stretched towards elsewhere.


I witnessed the quick spill of night ink,

felt the black gloves of winter tighten

around autumn’s throat, saw the sky thicken,

heard the wind warn of worse to come.


Cumbersome with its reluctant prize catch,

this bruised uterus trawls through endless nights.

The sea-cold sheets of the cot are re-folded,

impatient phones switched off, curtains drawn.


Candles run out of wax and smoke their last.

Expectant clouds sink deeper. Membranes break.




We, the untitled, persist

Adam Sreeves


Though our fleeting existence has swiftly departed,

stolen through canvas, a crimson-daubed fist –

mad artwork of masters, brave but fainthearted;

yet we, the untitled, persist.


We survive not through matter, but bitter-sweet thoughts:

gentle warmth of our innocence afore the enlist –

a painting stained sepia, as existence distorts;

yet we, the untitled, persist.


Impelled by false idol, brush strokes of emery,

propaganda descends, the patriot mist –

abstract, illusionary, like our transient memory;

yet we, the untitled, persist.


Oh, glowing flag, thy light in the dark,

led us to victory, hollow as a cyst –

became simple statistics, a number, a mark;

yet we, the untitled, persist.


I know not where you are, only where gone,

left a navy-blue hole as you were dismissed –

I have nothing but truth now, blunt as the bomb;

will you, the untitled, persist?



Crow Dusk

Mark Floyer


And always crows

suspended high on rooftops and telephone wires

gathering to croak their dusk chorus

                                    kaaa kaaa

their black hoods

silhouetted against the purple disc of a hazy sun.


Out there the humming streets

change circuit

as the day’s dust settles

on pavements

lit up by naphthalene flares


and huddled around fires

hungry eyes stare at chapattis

browning in the coals

whilst tinny transistors

sing Bengali laments

of unrequited love

to the newly risen moon.


This is the hour I like best –

when the crow cacophony gradually fades

and pools of grown up chatter

spill across the verandah,

I lie behind my mosquito gauze

and wait for the crows to dream.



Diagnosis Day, New York

Andrew George


Everything is other in these topsy jet-lagged hours.

Half-past three and noticing the blocks of black,


the yellow glare of early cars, their quick red tails,

the feline green of long alarm-clock stares.


Half-comatose by tea-time,

nodding like a windscreen dog


at every circling skater,

the drop of each quiet leaf,


the bloodshot sunset hung from Bryant Park.

When skaters fall, it jerks me like a halter


back to this Thanksgiving Eve –

crashing into other peoples’


festivals, their different names for seasons.

I check my phone. You haven’t called.


I’m waiting for your news

in someone else’s city.


Platitudes and drink will get us through this

Sally McGuire


In black, they shuffle into pews,

Whispering hellos.

I sit at the front, the daughter’s place,

Fighting tears.


The card hall cronies arrive,

Shrunken and lined.

They hold a muted reunion.

I spot Dad's old flame at the back

Whilst mum searches her bag

For candle money.


Dad is brought in, boxed up.

Mum had insisted on oak,

Don’t show us up with the cheap one”.

Father talks of sheep, shepherds and light

And judges our feeble Amens.


After, dry-eyed ghosts make their excuses.

I study their faces and long to hear stories

Of his misspent youth, or theirs.

Promises are made for a pint

This side of Christmas.


At the club, a buffet is laid.

My dad’s fat friend tucks into sausage rolls.

I drink whiskey and Coke and watch

As my boyfriend leans in

For a light

From the barmaid.



Old man with cane and Panama

Ruth McIlroy

For P.K.M 1930 – 2010


I was shoulder deep in the sea at Coney Island

when I saw you stepping down the beach,

singular and content.


I love to see you unencumbered.

You knew me from the others in the sea;

your steady look said ‘What is this to me?’


I remembered winter; how we closed your eyes.

I thought that you were gone forever.

And now I hope, with a child’s unreason.


Stay; don’t stay, dear father; hold me

longer in your enigmatic gaze,

mild, unbending, in the Southern Brooklyn haze.


You turned and walked back up the sand;

the ocean held my arms down by my sides,

rocking me in the long Atlantic swell.


The jets roared over towards Newark or JFK.



The Woman Who Could Not Say Love

Angela Readman


if there’s a more fluent way to write it

than with steel, a needle raised

to the window, looping an apostrophe


of sunlight to his coat,

she doesn’t know it. Let a stitch

in a frayed pocket proclaim


what thinking of him is. Night

fishing, let him plunge his hands

out of the cold, feel the ruck


- one silk knot in the cloth

puckering up to his finger

in the coarse dark.