Tammy Armstrong wins Cafe Writers Open

The 2017 Cafe Writers Open Poetry Competition, judged by Liz Berry, is Tammy Armstrong with her poem ‘Road Salt Dome’.

Second and third prizes go to Poetry Society Members Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, for ‘Juno’s Augury’, and Sarah Westcott for ‘Fair Maids of February’.

Among the Commended poets are Poetry Society Members Ayesha Drury, Sue Davies, and Fiona Larkin, while Poetry Society Member Jenny Pagdin won the Norfolk Prize for ‘Eight Deaths’.

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough is the author of Glass (Best Pamphlet Saboteur Awards 2017) and a full collection, Sightings (Michael Schmidt Award for Best Portfolio). A poem from Sightings was published in the Forward Book of Poetry 2018. Other poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat & TearsThe RialtoPoemMslexiaMagma and Stand. http://elisabethsennittclough.co.uk

Sarah Westcott’s collection Slant Light is published by Pavilion Poetry. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry News, and Magma, and on beermats, billboards and the side of buses. Recent awards are the London Magazine poetry prize and the Manchester Cathedral prize. www.sarahwestcott.co.uk

Liz Berry:


Road Salt Dome

I found this poem utterly enchanting. It takes one of the most mundane subjects I can imagine – a storehouse for road salt – and transforms it into a magical, otherworldly kingdom, where “queens or poets might be interred/beside the bones of zithery grey-hounds”. The language is lush, lyrical and ambitious; full of music. The imagery slowly knits to create something spellbinding . I found the ecstatic ending just gorgeous. Bravo!


Juno’s Augury

Dark and densely wrought, this poem uses a clever woven form in which the reader can find three different poems, three different versions, which wind in and out of each other in a fascinating choiric structure. It opens with the compelling “I dream there’s a black spot on her heart: a storm with thousand-mile-an-hour winds rotating from her atria” and immediately we are hooked. The poem is full of powerful symbolism, a great deal of mystery and a brilliant sense of the unsettling. A poet I wanted to read more of.


Fair Maids of February

I loved this wild, delicate little poem about snowdrops from first glance. It’s at once beautiful and troubling, crafted with a careful touch. Again, it holds something mysterious, mixing life with the “wormy… downy” grave; mixing the vulnerability of the small flower with the vulnerability of young women. The final stanza just floored me.

Read more, including all the selected poems

31 January 2018