Competitions News

Creative Writing Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Library’s Creative Writing Contest 2020! We decided to launch the competiton to showcase writing skills and exercise creativity in what have been incredibly challenging times… and you didn’t let us down – our judges were simply amazed my the quality of entries!

Congratulations to all of our lockdown linguist winners and well done to all that took part. Here are the winners. Please click on each one to view their winning literary masterpieces in full.

1st place - 'As Towns and Cities Grow Quiet' by Emma Smith

As towns and cities grow quiet, animals venture into the streets and a little bit of wilderness returns to human places. As I look around, the grounds lit up by very dim orange yellow streetlights which flicker, and always makes you feel like you’re being watched!

Shadows from down the dark grainy washed alleyways with rough grey pathways full of expanded cracks on the hard concrete. The aromas of garbage fill the air above my own breath as the bin bags fill the walkway. Stray cats sparing out a meow as they rummage through the prised bin bags which look like terrorists.

The sunrays have disappeared over the horizon as I glare at the heavy inked midnight sky which are replaced with twinkling stars like diamonds. I wondered what it would feel like to be free like the stars? The moon struggles to shine through the wispy clouds which are scattered like tattered grey curtains. Rustling leaves could be heard but not seen in the distance as the breeze blows colder through the swaying trees.

The bats came alive and are full of energy as they flap their thin leather like wings through the moonlit sky using their night vision to guide them as they glide through the cold night air.

A ferocious fierce fox creeps through my bodies reflection and injects terror into my blood leaving me feeling petrified and anxious. They’re out hunting for wild resistant frightened cotton tailed rabbits as they look shifty and sly.

A tiny dark brown rodent with rigid thick spikes was staggering on their tiny legs nearby the bare scrawny bushes trying to find shelter. Their eye sights limited as they see outlines of objects through their cloudy swollen eyes.  They were Trotting down the path making huffing noises and snorting through their long snouts as they have a threatful look on their threatened faces.

The shops are shut with their cold steel vandalised shutters and the littered pavement is whisking wafting and whirling in the cold breeze. The place is derelict, and the atmosphere rested in silence as the dim lights lit up the ground around me.

As midnight draws in, the air feels damp and cold like an iceberg. All I could think about was wandering through my door, snuggled up in my blanket with a steaming hot cuppa. I would lay by my coal fire feeling warm and cosy with the hot flames blazing. I would be careful not to get to close even though I would love the feeling of my feet being baked. I would be snug as a bug in a rug. I then would drag my feet and move in slow motion as I walked up the stairs which seemed like I was climbing a mountain. My eyes would be blood-shot and have greyish bags beneath them. I would then crawl into my bed and collapse as I lay under the soft comfy sheets, resting my head as I curl up. I would feel myself falling down and down as it all goes black.

Comment from our judges: Strong sensory imagery with a real evocation of a sense of time and place.

Joint 2nd place - 'Something Unknown' by Weronika Lachawiec

As towns and cities grow quiet, animals venture into the streets and a little bit of wilderness returns to human places. As I look around, the grounds lit up by very dim orange yellow streetlights which flicker, and always makes you feel like you’re being watched!

Shadows from down the dark grainy washed alleyways with rough grey pathways full of expanded cracks on the hard concrete. The aromas of garbage fill the air above my own breath as the bin bags fill the walkway. Stray cats sparing out a meow as they rummage through the prised bin bags which look like terrorists.

The sunrays have disappeared over the horizon as I glare at the heavy inked midnight sky which are replaced with twinkling stars like diamonds. I wondered what it would feel like to be free like the stars? The moon struggles to shine through the wispy clouds which are scattered like tattered grey curtains. Rustling leaves could be heard but not seen in the distance as the breeze blows colder through the swaying trees.

The bats came alive and are full of energy as they flap their thin leather like wings through the moonlit sky using their night vision to guide them as they glide through the cold night air.

A ferocious fierce fox creeps through my bodies reflection and injects terror into my blood leaving me feeling petrified and anxious. They’re out hunting for wild resistant frightened cotton tailed rabbits as they look shifty and sly.

A tiny dark brown rodent with rigid thick spikes was staggering on their tiny legs nearby the bare scrawny bushes trying to find shelter. Their eye sights limited as they see outlines of objects through their cloudy swollen eyes.  They were Trotting down the path making huffing noises and snorting through their long snouts as they have a threatful look on their threatened faces.

The shops are shut with their cold steel vandalised shutters and the littered pavement is whisking wafting and whirling in the cold breeze. The place is derelict, and the atmosphere rested in silence as the dim lights lit up the ground around me.

As midnight draws in, the air feels damp and cold like an iceberg. All I could think about was wandering through my door, snuggled up in my blanket with a steaming hot cuppa. I would lay by my coal fire feeling warm and cosy with the hot flames blazing. I would be careful not to get to close even though I would love the feeling of my feet being baked. I would be snug as a bug in a rug. I then would drag my feet and move in slow motion as I walked up the stairs which seemed like I was climbing a mountain. My eyes would be blood-shot and have greyish bags beneath them. I would then crawl into my bed and collapse as I lay under the soft comfy sheets, resting my head as I curl up. I would feel myself falling down and down as it all goes black.

Comment from our judges: A highly effective piece due to its simplicity and realism.

Joint 2nd place - 'Lockdown Rhyme and Speech (My Life in Lockdown)' by Mollie Tysoe

Lockdown is a scary time, So I’ve tried to create a little rhyme, to hopefully put a smile on all your dull faces, from around the world and in lot’s of different places.

I can see people queuing outside supermarkets standing two meters apart, Food shelves empty like school classroom doors. Panic at the start, seeing families not know where to part.

Listening to the sound of silence, as still as the night, People all in their houses, holding each other tight, to scared to fight for another night. The sound of people busily buying food as they try to lighten their mood.

The smell of fear from people not wanting to leave their homes, staying in their gardens, talking to their gnomes. Helping in the kitchen, hoping it smells of cake. All the little children’s little dreams of all the thank-you cards and cookies we could make.

The worry in my chest, as my heart becomes a pest. My brain thinking deep within my skull as I begin to worry of the ill.

I may be feeling lonely like a haunted house on a tiny, tall hill, but I will stay inside for as long as it takes so, I don’t have to live with the pain in putting someone’s family in turmoil. Plus, so I don’t risk others becoming ill and needing the pills.

Although I do hope this is over soon. I am missing my family more than you will ever know. The pain and worry this virus brings is just to much worry for the little minds. Children listening but not understanding the news but having to listen to all your moods. Please think of them as you begin to know you have had enough. They have been told they can’t see their families but have no clue why, there little lives torn in two. Not to mention the fragile and old people in care homes who have dementia and have no clue. Please praise a care worker’s as well as they are the ones that have to go through all the unbearable questions and have to try to make them understand. Our heroes all in the NHS and CARE HOMES remember to thank them too.

Comment from our judges: This contemporary poem has energy and verve, reflecting the reality of the Covid crisis. It focuses on the fear and fragility experienced by many.

Joint 3rd place - 'Messages in an Isolated Word: Two Thoughts of Who Live Alone' by Monique Edwards

Chapter 1 – Unclear

I watched, and I now understand that the earth is now dejected. The speeches of those who now grieve and wait as I rub my hands in prayer and loneliness strives but feels it must be. I can see it, and I shall proceed in arriving at that place, but here is an accurate reality. 1 month in and I seem to remove a routine of focus and sustain a strength to comply with tasks in spare time that I’ve been able to gain. Towns and cities may continue but the prize of a lock down is what we receive for now. The minds of young desire an explanation, and minds of maturity crave an answer. It comes to mind that…don’t you think it must be, that we must wait…we must appreciate the value of silence, patience and the accompaniment of presence from lovers, but I will still watch and proceed to arrive to that place that consumes safety.

Money. I could only take in that one word. As I looked the sun smiled with me, but I seemed to not have a smile on my face, and even though the weather collects are energy, me, myself do not allow it and this whole time, this seat that holds me created hatred as agreement to imagine walking down the same old street where I approve satisfactory in peace minded people that pass by. How dare I look out the same window and devour accurate scenes when stepping out there would be different. But taking a step back is easier.

Chapter 2 – controllable mind

Working from home. Not a punishment. The sky has cried its many tears, I have gained the lightness of no stress and I’m capable of controlling sorrows from my glands. No disturbances have appeared, and I dare say it’s not accurate almost deadly in the softest of ways. I teach and I shall continue to teach, but time has decided to wait. It is fine for peacocks, goats and spotted deer to make a show on streets I wandered yesterday, it kind of is a memory of kids that play with no rules cause happiness comes out in the open not realizing that negativity does not have a place in the imagination of developing minds.

I’ve opened the fridge; it must be the third time. Watching has irritated me and arriving to that place I don’t think is worth it travelling alone. I can relax but knowing kids can’t gain knowledge the same way can worry me….no such thing as can’t, maybe, but it’s just not the same. I should be used to the same days, same dates and same hours but seem to struggle to pick up a 100 page book that stares at me the same days, same dates and same hours to absorb knowledge of something that can keep my mind at ease. But maybe, just maybe, possibly usual scenes shall take place and I find that place that safety lies.  The place of quarantine.

Comment from our judges: Monique’s piece, headed as two chapters, reads like an intimate diary extract. It has a highly effective use of personification and reflects upon how the familiar world has become a strange place of uncertainty and anxiety.

Joint 3rd place - 'Life in Lockdown' by Ellie Miles

As towns and cities grow quiet, animals venture into the streets and a little bit of wildness returns to human places. As I look around the hustle and bustle of our busy town has turned quiet within an instant, making a somewhat peaceful yet uncomfortable atmosphere. As I slowly put one foot in front of the other and solemnly stroll into our quiet town, which almost foreshadows a ghost town within this present time, I can’t help but think to myself what everything was like before, and what it will be like after. After the shops once again open their doors and welcome people back in, after people can visit their parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and all the rest of their family members and friends and we can all unite together once again, after the bars, pubs and restaurants reopen and everyone can go out and have a good time, which is long overdue and what many people need, after when we can go back to normal again, not yet, not in a few weeks, but eventually we will be able to go back to our lives, with our families, friends, jobs and hobbies, and we can be together once again and make up for the times we lost with our loved ones.

As I walk further into our town, which felt like someone had pressed the mute button, I can see people donating boxes full of food to food banks, and communities coming together within this tough time, people donating supplies to the NHS who are rushed off their feet but still doing an amazing job, people who are offering out of the kindness of their own hearts to buy some of the essentials for an elderly neighbour, or volunteering at care homes and hospitals which are short staffed, and even some doctors and nurses coming out of retirement to help the NHS with the overwhelming number of patients they have to deal with at the moment. I glance over my shoulder I can see the queue for the supermarket which looks to be endless as it trails around the corner of the street, everyone in the queue standing that lengthy two metres apart, just standing, waiting, some, having a well needed chat as they haven’t been out all week, some standing quietly, not knowing what to say, or wanting to make sure they didn’t say the wrong thing. Although putting all of this aside each and every person in that queue knows we can get through this, together.

As I walk a little further into our town, I feel a sense of the community coming together in these rough times, and I reflect on the positives times we’ve had during lockdown, like every Thursday evening at eight o’clock when we all go out into our front gardens and clap for careers and frontline workers, who are doing everything they can to keep us going, when a family member comes and sits two metres apart in your front garden with you to have a well needed chat, when you did facetime with everyone in your family, and everyone had so much to say you couldn’t get a word in edgeways, but having a laugh with the people you love was just what you needed, when you ran out of things to do, so you started a new hobby, which you actually quite enjoyed. As I catch a glimpse of the sun in the corner of my eye, I glance up and I can see the sun poking through the clouds, making our dreary town that little bit brighter, and it’s at that moment I can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Comment from our judges: Ellie’s piece is highly detailed and provides a linear analysis of the physical and mental effects of Covid 19. A memorable phrase she uses to describe the silence is ‘which felt like someone had pressed the mute button’.

Staff 1st Place - 'Empty Scrapbooks' by Lewis Payne

Reclined in a palace of glass and shade

The ash of our kingdom mantles the horizon

For the old gods that bellow the gales from the North

And those bodies that resist the call of the sirens

Stale breeze steals a breath, a trace of regret

To forgo, to tiptoe the gardens of water

And crush moss ‘twixt my fingers, bang drums and light pyres

To dance through the ivy and chase the moon’s daughter

Yet not the rituals of dawn, nor the choruses of night

Point a compass’s rose amidst safer seas

Or can fracture these mirrors, or reclaim the dust

Of journals unwritten for centuries

See, the wilds await a much younger man

Those at one with the ink and the spoils of war

Recounting, acquiescent, from where it began

To here – sketches crumpled, maps frayed

Paths explored

Paths

Unlike mine

Which are lost, to time

Comment from our judges: This poem is truly outstanding and appears to be written by a professional poet. It invokes a mythological past and charts the infinite path of History. It reminds me of Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ and T’S Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ with its treatment of temporal transience.

Staff 2nd Place - 'No Sadness' by Julie O'Beirne

I walk amid the memory stones

Light dappling through verdant green leaves

Flickering and fading.

Moving through the past

Beloved mother, treasured sister, sorely missed.

Edith and Ethel and Clara and Harold and –

Crows glide on boot black wings

Nested trees dip their arms to embrace

Bees hum and suckle.

No sadness, this peaceful place is full of love

It lingers embedded in light and shade

Embroidered on the stones

Remember this when hope seems far away

Even in the midst of death

We are in life.

Comment from our judges: This poem transposes a graveyard into an idyll full of the sounds and sights of nature. It has a genuine sense of deep reflection and peace, remembering beloved family members who have passed into the next world. It ends with a positive reminder of the power of life over death.