Rachael Matthews wins inaugural Coastal Writing for Wellness Competition

Rachael Matthews

Deborah Harvey has chosen Poetry Society Member Rachael Matthews’ poem ‘Ghazal: The Sea’ as the winner of the inaugural Coastal Writing for Wellness Competition. Fellow Society Members Sarah James (Leavesley) and Marion Ashton were Commended.

The competition is organised by The Beach Hut, an online coastal themed platform for contemporary poetry & flash fiction: “Celebrating the power of writing inspired by nature and its therapeutic benefits.”

The Beach Hut tweeted that Rachael has donated her prize money to the charity Refuge and their Covid19 campaign. Rachael is a psychotherapist working in New York, and previously worked as a radio newsreader. She was third in this year’s Magma Poetry Competition, judged by Caroline Bird, and a runner-up in Mslexia’s 2013 Women’s Poetry Competition, judged by Kathleen Jamie.


It was a privilege to be asked to judge the inaugural Beach Hut poetry and flash fiction competition, and, given the quality of the entries, a very difficult task to whittle them down to first and second place, with a couple of commended. I’d like to thank everyone who entered for the much-needed distraction their writing provided.

That said, the conditions we are currently living under inevitably infused the poems with meanings that might not have been the poet’s intention, or indeed prevalent, at the time that they were written – but then that’s the joy of poetry, that there’s enough space in a good poem for it to adapt to circumstances, and to allow the reader to bring their own experiences to it.

The flash fiction was without exception interesting to read, although I didn’t think any of it quite matched the quality of the top four poems. These were extremely difficult to place in winning order. All had their strengths and surprises. All are still living in my head as I write this.  I’d like to warmly congratulate all four poets.

Congratulations, too, to Tina, for the beauty that is the Beach Hut. We have all needed a place to escape to this year, and this platform, with its consistently good writing and stunning photography, has helped ease the pain many of us feel at this time of limited movement. I wish the Beach Hut and its competition all the best for the future.

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3 June 2020