Oxfordshire Schools Poetry Competition

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Rachel Buxton

Contact: niall.munro@brookes.ac.uk

Project start: January 2014

Project finish: April 2014

About us

Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre ran a poetry competition across all schools in Oxfordshire, which received over 600 entries in total.

The winners and runners-up gathered for a prize-giving and poetry reading at Oxford Brookes on Friday 18 April.

First prize in the primary category was awarded to 10-year-old Ruby Ellis from Rye St Antony for her poem Katie Kennet Moving.

15-year-old Aska Matsunaga from Wychwood School received first prize in the secondary category for her poem ‘Connecting: 50p to spare her’. She said: “I was really surprised to win because I wasn’t expecting it at all. We were studying poems in class and it was really interesting so I decided to write more and more and more.”

“The most appealing poems were those that were full of life, energy, linguistic enthusiasm and general appreciation for the textures of language.”

Helen Kidd, head judge

The winners received cash prizes of £150 for 1st prize, £75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd and £10 Blackwell’s book tokens for runner-ups. The two schools whose students won 1st prize were also awarded afternoon poetry workshops with Helen Kidd and fellow poet A F Harrold.

Years 1–6 topic: Moving

Frozen Winter’s Day

The heavens cried snow
as they fell like delicate butterflies.
The clouds wrapped up the land
after defeating the sun in a fight.
The tree sat up and stretched
then sat down and shivered.
The twigs dangled off like frozen fingers.
The grass crept across the snowy garden.

by Ben Peirson-Hagger (Sonning Common Primary School) (Second Prize)

Katie Kennet Moving

In a charity shop an open suitcase
Conker coloured and vast
In splendid condition.
Inside, a fudge brown coat
Sleeping as furry and soft as a puppy.
Katie Kennet tall and slender,
Eyes the colour of golden syrup,
Poodle coat brown hair
Short and curly.
Moving to a brick hotel with a grand archway
Walls as sleek as a sheep’s rug.
A crystal necklace, shining like a piece of glass
In the shimmering sunshine.
Journey to an ailing mother
Lingering for a promise.

by Ruby Ellis (Rye St Antony) (First Prize)


   I wriggle as I jiggle
      I bump when I jump
         I curl as I twirl
            I flip when I skip
               I groove as I move
            I rap when I tap
         I flounce as I pounce
      I stride when I ride
   I bolt as I jolt
I pace when I race
   I growl as I prowl
      I flick when I kick
         I roll as I stroll
      I prance when I dance
   I scurry as I hurry
I bop when I hop
   I glide as I slide
      I totter when I potter
         I ponder as I wander
            And then I stop, and stand still!

by Kitty Vaughan-Fowler (St Joseph's Catholic Primary) (Runner Up)

The Helicopter

It buzzes like a bee
   and it twists like a tree,
   a helicopter flies so free.

It swings to the left
It slides to the right.
It flows through the sky
   and lowers out of sight.

by Beth Stewart (RAF Benson Primary School) (Runner Up)


Kangaroos and Children.
They all jump!

by Jack Lester (Finmere C of E Primary School) (Runner Up)


How shall I move?
I’m running out of time;
Shall I move diagonally?
Or in a straight line.

Shall I be sneaky?
Or shall I be kind;
If I go over there
I wonder what I’ll find.

I’m getting really worried
What if I get it wrong?
I better hurry up now
I don’t want to take too long.

Shall I move early?
Or shall I move late?
My bishop just took his queen
So now I say ...

by Poppy Deacon (Charlton Primary School) (Runner Up)

My Ballet Class

Arms forward, head straight, knees bend,
1st position, chin up grow and extend.

Curve arms, bend legs, stick out your chin,
Spot the wall, hold your breath, jump up and spin.

“Grand Jetté”!
Run forwards, speed up, jump off the ground
Split kick, point your toes, don’t make a sound.

“Tour en l’Air!”
5th position, plié, leap, spin and swirl,
Down again, stay still, end of the whirl.

by Aedan Wynne (St Joseph's Catholic Primary School) (Runner Up)

The Pen

I twist my head,
Begin to write,
Moving elegantly,
I rub blue blood,
Across the page,
Crafting a poem.

I twist my head,
The wound closes,
I glitter by the table.
Thinking that,
When I wake,
I’ll be crafting a poem.

I twist my head,
Begin again,
Seeking inspiration,
But in the end ideas flow,
Putting an end to
Crafting a poem.

by Maddy Smith (Sonning Common Primary School) (Third Prize)  

Years 7–13 topic: Connecting


My pocket comes alive with sound,
Writhing and screeching, I pick up the phone,
My finger collides with a button found,
And I sigh as I listen to my dad’s drone.

The screen lights up in the dull dark room,
Three strokes link me to faceless friends,
Battle commences banishing all gloom,
Axes are raised and arrows fall in fantastic glens.

The face of my distant cousin, half way across the world,
Suddenly appears in my room,
I watch in awe as his words unfurl,
His now strange dialect increasing in volume.

This digital universe is only half real, half dreamland,
I wish Max could be transported here by broadband!

by Fintan O'Connor (Cheney School) (Third Prize)


Desert sands,
Golden, rich,
Burnt, scorched,

A lone computer stands,
Hardworn, sandbitten,
Glowing dimly,
Clinging to life.

Weary soldier,
Battle worn,
Stumbles into view,
Dragging his heels.

A chair appears,
Out of the sand,
Green and faded,
Camouflage faint.

He crawls up,
Into the chair,
Types in his name,
Blank screen.

Internet’s up!
Flashing lights,
Email opened,
A smile breaks.

Energy surges,
Fingers a blur,
Spilling his joy
Into the keys.

The world spins,
A morning has passed,
Teen schoolgirl,
Links to the net.

Smiles all round,
News at last!
Her heart races,
He’s safe and well


by Beth Saward (Wychwood School) (Runner Up)

Daisy Chains

Link by link
I thread each stem
With careful precision.

Tongue on my lip
Eyes bright, attentive
My busy fingers
Make deep slits in their pretty necks
Until the juice
Dyes my fingertips
As green as my knees.

Barefoot in the soil
Toenails, dirt-caked
Seeking a pebble
To stop them from sinking.

I watch them fall
One by one
A blur of colour
Heads splitting
Petals exploding,

Link by link
I thread each precious stem
With careful precision.

by Imogen Charvill Ryall (Cheney) (Runner Up)

Connecting Poem

Poke of metal mover, rev of engine
Patience, as slow movements appear
Click, egg timer, round and round
Begin, choose icon, E
Telephone noise, croak, croak
Of ill frog.
The world’s eye opens
I am connected.

by Rosie Milliken (Tudor Hall School) (Second Prize)


Thoughts, air bubbles in water, rise
What is it?
I ...
I don’t know
A means of expression

by Louisa Emms (Rye St Antony) (Runner Up)

Connecting: 50p to spare her

A girl named Zarina
Lives in Africa alone
No one knows her but me
So now I’ll write of her to all

Guns were fired
And seeds were her food
Child soldier was she
But a victim, to me

Her parents died
Her sisters killed
No one’s heard of her but me

No one


At all


50p is enough
You could have saved her from war
It’s too late,
And for thousands more

A girl named Zarina
lies in Africa alone
Great grandpa found her
Blood smudged fingers and all

by Aska Matsunaga (Wychwood School) (First Prize)


He looked weaker than ever lying there.
A flicker of hope, sagged down into his contours,
Weighing heavily under his eyes.

Married, barely a year.
Until his eye wandered, his body thrown.
Glass, piercing his skin.
The belt never tried to save him.

His body. Paralysed.
No movement, not even a twitch.
No sound leaves his lips.
No flicker of an eyelid.

His hand no longer squeezes mine, in his.
No power in his frame, his body broken.
The tears glistened, streaming down my face.
They won’t stop.

by Laura Bedwell (Wychwood School) (Runner Up)

Hedgehog writes a love poem to her husband

You may be exceedingly chubby
But underneath you’re rubadubly
By the way that’s hedgehogese for lovely

I look at you and see
Something rather prickly
But I know you’re soft and cuddly inside

You may not be beautiful
But at least you’re dutiful
More so than my first husband Derek, half-poodle,
Half-hippo, half-unknown -blobbery-thing, but I won’t talk
About that ............

by Anthony Hogego (The Cherwell School) (Runner Up)