2018 WriteNow poetry competition results

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read winning entries here


Judge’s report, 2018 WriteNow poetry competition.

“Alive here and now”


Voice is like a muscle: it can lift and move and touch. A powerful voice need not be loud (although it may be loud); it may be quiet and gentle. A powerful voice comes from a listening place, which also tends to be a compassionate place. A powerful voice chooses words carefully, understanding that language represents our deepest humanity, that what we say and how we say it shapes everything we are, and creates all that we can be.

I said, when this year’s competition opened, that I’d be looking for poems that connect me to the poet’s vision of what it means to be alive, here and now, in Ōtepoti/Dunedin. It’s been my privilege to read the response to that call-out in so many strong, vivid and well-made poems.

The overall standard of writing was high. These young poets clearly respect the power of poetry. They understand that a poem is made, and they know the importance of the work that goes into binding together the poem’s component parts and polishing every line until the whole poem pleases eye, ear, mind and heart. I want to congratulate everyone who entered and encourage you to continue to hone your writing talents. It was great to have entries from several schools new to the competition, and exciting to find students from two of these schools – Queens High School and Kaikorai College – named in the results.

Special congratulations now to the poets who have been commended or placed. Your work was tightly crafted and distilled; your lines carry exactly what they need to bear – no more and no less. Because of this, they did that extra thing I was looking for, used the amazing energy of language to “make a poem that rings true, and keeps on getting truer with each reading”.  In the senior section, I could not separate two poems that stood out as particularly strongly realised visions of being “alive, here and now”, and so have awarded equal first place to Jacob Cone (Kaikorai College) and Molly Crighton (Columba College).

Molly Crighton deserves extra-special mention – her poetry has been placed and commended in every WriteNow competition since she first entered as a year 9 student in 2014, the inaugural year the of the competition. Hats off to you Molly!

Thank you all for writing these poems. Write more, weave the world with words. Power to your pens.                                                                               

Sue Wootton, August 2018



Junior section:

First: ‘Dysfunctional Placentae’ by Poppy Magdalena Hayward, Year 10 Logan Park High School.

Second: ‘A Blank Canvas’ by Megan Macdiarmid, Year 10 Logan Park High School.

Third: ‘Time’ by Chloe E. Heineke, Year 10, Columba College.



‘St Clair’ by Billie Allan, Year 9, Queens High School

‘Dunedin’ by Billie Allan, Year 9, Queens High School

‘The Esplanade’ by Lydia Butler, Year 9, Queens High School



Senior section: 

First equal: ‘Chrysalis ‘by Jacob Cone, Year 13 Kaikorai Valley College.

First equal: ‘The Innernet’ by Molly Crighton, Year 13 Columba College.

Third: ‘A story for you, love’ by Oscar Tobeck, Year 11, Kaikorai Valley College



‘to the spider on my ceiling’ by Molly Crighton

‘Triple-sunned sky’ by Molly Crighton

‘Holey’ by Lucy Liebergreen, Year 13, Columba College

‘A stardust puzzle’ by Jacob Cone



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