Sarah Westcott wins Poets & Players Competition

Sarah Westcott receives her award from Pascale Petit
Sarah Westcott receives her award from Pascale Petit

It’s one-two-three for Poetry Society Members in this year’s Poets & Players competition, judged by Pascale Petit.

Sarah Westcott is the winner, with James Friedman and Andrew Rudd in second and third place. Among the Commended poets are Society Members Mark Fiddes and Joanna Lowry.


“When Poets & Players asked me to judge their competition I happily agreed. It’s an organisation I have long admired, from its earliest days with the inspiring founder Linda Chase, to today’s impressive incarnation in the splendid Whitworth Gallery. Being based in the hub of Manchester, I knew there would be a high standard and was not disappointed, though the competition drew entries from all over.

Trawling through the anonymous entries was like a treasure hunt, many adventures with words had along the way, through various and enthralling worlds. Thank you to all who entered and entrusted your work into my hands. It’s hard to define what I was looking for, as I wanted to be surprised by something unexpected. But I do know that I wanted poems full of life, with a pulse and heartbeat. I also hoped for poems that demanded to be reread, yielding deeper layers. Above all, I searched for a feeling that they had had to be written, had a sense of urgency. I wasn’t so keen on work that told me what it was about, leaving nothing to my imagination. Happily, there were many candidates on my longlist that fulfilled my expectations.

The finalists include five commended poems, and three winners, though it might be useful to consider that when I get to the final eight, this is the slowest and hardest part of the judging. Each poem in the shortlist gave me a thrill as I reread it a second time, then continued to yield more pleasure as I compared and contrasted, but had to decide on the winner. One did stand out for me and rose to the top of the pile.”

Competition Winners

First Prize: ‘Familiars’ by Sarah Westcott

Second Prize: ‘Fayum Portraits’  by James Friedman

Third Prize: ‘Alerion’ by Andrew Rudd

Commended Poets (in alphabetical order)

’The Cat’s Tail’ by Ken Evans

‘An early swim’ by Mark Fiddes

‘The Boy Who Kept Bees’ by Michael Greavy

“…you are no better than an animal; nothing but a common whore…” by Cathy Grindrod    

‘Lee’ by Joanna Lowry 

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16 May 2018