Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019

The 28th annual Forward Prizes will be awarded on 20th October 2019 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. The Forward Prizes for Poetry are among the UK’s most coveted literary awards; They have been awarded since 1992 to more than 70 poets, honouring brilliant newcomers – Liz Berry, Danez Smith – alongside established writers at the peak of their careers: Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, and Claudia Rankine.

Discover these shortlisted poets at Wokingham libraries, reserve a copy via the website at


The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)

City of Departures by Helen Tookey (Carcanet)

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Faber & Faber)

The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran (Bloodaxe Books)

Noctuary by Niall Campbell (Bloodaxe Books)

Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson (Cape)


The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)

If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton (Penguin Books)

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore (Carcanet)

Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)

Truth Street by David Cain (Smokestack Books)





Beige Coloured Days by Jean Hill

Local author Jean Hill who is also a member of the Wokingham Library Poetry Writing Group has written this poem at a time when we are all reflecting upon the lives that were lost during the Great War a hundred years ago.


Wetly glistening, the stone, I trace

Your name with gnarled and blue-veined hands

Mottled white finger tips read the letters

On the memorial – this monument to madness

To my beige coloured days and tears unshed

“Wait for me”

You said, you said

Amid soddened poppies, the brass-band plays

And I hear echoes of the village carousel

Where horses grazed in fields now violated

With urban sprawl and shopping malls

I hold fast to my one silvered thread

I was once loved

You said, you said

You went the day the sun shone through

A misty dawn when the birds still sang

And church bells pealed their evensong

And wheat fields fanned with golden blush

When sun-sets gloried tones of red

“I’ll come back, we’ll wed”

You said, you said

A boy to adventure not understanding

In jaunty cap and hair shorn short

Village lads together, the Pals Brigade

With boots that sparked on cobbled stones

Over by Christmas, with Jerries fled

“Marching home victorious”

You said, you said

Your letters came with foreign stamps

Anguish between each censored line

My fresh-faced beau of tender years

God comfort you in the shadow of death

Give us this day, our daily bread

And prayers for you

I said, I said

Up the rutted lane the post-man came

Worn sombre face and cycle-clips

In his hand the yellow telegram

And time stood still while my heart raced

Numbed with grief – no tears to shed

“A reply?” – “No reply”

I said, I said

And so the start of my beige coloured days

The greyness of torment in years to come

No surrendered virginity – no bright horizon

I cry for children I would have borne

I weep for the life we could have led

“I’ll wait for you”

I said, I said

By Jean Hill



Young People’s Poetry Competition at Wokingham Borough Libraries

Young People’s Poetry Competition at Wokingham Borough Libraries

We are delighted to announced the winners of the Poetry Competition that we ran over the Summer Holidays.

1st Prize winner for 13 to 15 aged catergory goes to “Accepting” by Jacob aged 14


no one knew how far I’d go

just to be like the other I know

fretting and fraying

stammering away


it made me unhappy

it made me sad

even though I was kinda glad


to be like them

all popular and cool

but I didn’t know what I’d become


happiness had simply disappeared

for it was then I feared


no one knew how I felt

not enough to make my heart melt


then I discovered you

understanding myself

I knew

All my sense had gone askew


Everyone changes

Just like time displaces

The world spins round

To make us confound



One another

From each other


Is anyone like anyone else

Personalities are individual, unless

Can we not be who we want to be


Embracing physical and mental identity

That’s what makes you and me

1st Prize winner for 10 to 12 aged catergory goes to “Change” by Jigya aged 12


Change is unpredictable weather

Mixing your feelings

And turning your world upside down


It gives a taste like marmite

Great for some

And horrid for others


It can be like a sudden explosion

It happens without warning

It can be like ivey creeping up a wall

Gradually moving every single second…


Change has taken us

From ancient to modern

From letters to phones

From horses to cars.


It makes us different

Our views our personality

And our life-style


Changes are the jugsaw pieces

Of the world

Making it better or worse

From earthquake to new life


Whatever the change,

No matter how we feel

You can’t stop them

Because they happen for real.

2nd Prize winner for 10 to 12 aged catergory goes to “Change” by Sohini aged 11


The most constant thing on earth is change,

At first it does kind of seem strange!


There are many ways life brings it though,

It could get back to you in a blow!


A change of state, a change of mind.

A way of variation, a way of mastermind!


A sensible decision from a rethink,

Could transform your future in a blink!


I wish I could change all the misery in earth,

So people could smile every moment from birth!


1st Prize winner for 7 to 9 aged catergory goes to “Earth is changing” by Anya aged 9

“Earth is changing”

Earth is changing,

Although not everyone accepts it.

Hence if this carries on,

It’ll be worse than you can admit.


Earth is changing,

Coral white as snow,

With temperatures gradually arising

Increasing heat could become earth’s foe.


Earth is changing,

Animals entering extinction,

Life on earth is threatened,

Which will not be our intention.


Earth is changing,

Plastic scattered around our streets,

Turtles swimming elegantly,

May take their last heartbeats.


Earth is changing,

Carbon dioxide lurking around,

It results in ice melting,

Not a glacier to be found.


Earth is changing,

Although not everyone accepts it,

Hence if this carries on,

It’ll be worse than ever before.


2nd Prize winner for 7 to 9 aged catergory goes to “Change of Pet” by Paris aged 8

“Change of Pet”

My pet dragon is called Jack, He loves to roll around on his back

Jack can breath fire very hot, We always make sure to stand well back

That’s the thing that makes me think, To change my pet in first a blink

My mum always says its good to change, As it can be a safety risk

So I changed my pet into a fish, I love to see it’s little tail flick

Ma and my friends now play with Finn, We like her trick when she sinks


Well done to the winners, for their wonderful word on the theme of “Change” for National Poetry Day on October 4, 2018.


National Poetry Day October 4 2018

National Poetry Day 2018 will take place on Thursday 4 October and the theme is Colour-logos-1Change.

National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting your favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday.

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Writing Group will be reading from their work on the evening of October 4 at the library between 6.30pm and 7.45pm. Everyone is welcome to come along, it is a free event and refreshments will be provided. To book a place call Wokingham Library on (0118) 9781368

If you visit the National Poetry Day Website at  you will find some fantasic poems on the theme of Change, including some classics of the genre such as Love and Friendship by Emily Bronte and Snow Fox by Liz Brownlee

National Poetry Day






‘Phoning Susan- A poem by Jean Hill

Jean PicJean Hill from the Wokingham Library Poetry Group has written a poem to make you smile:


 We ignored all the arguments

Told her not to make a fuss

We decided that the time had come

To have Mother live with us


We’ll manage all her finance

And as legal legatee

Make sure that our inheritance

Wings its way to me


So we turned around the box-room

Signed her up for Medicare

Bought a bed-spread made of candlewick

And an orthopaedic chair


She’ll sit by the radiator

In a quilted dressing-gown

We’ll keep Velcro slippers by the fire

For if we have to ask her down


You’d think she’d be quite grateful

Appreciate our sacrifice

But she threw her dinner at me

Followed by her prunes and rice


I’m at the end of my tether

I don’t know what to do

We need a family conference

So I’ll ring my sister, Sue


“What shall we do about Mother

Her mind’s flipped, her virtue gone

She went to that Ann Summers shop

And bought herself a thong


She’s found herself a toy-boy

They’re dancing in her room

Can you hear the music down the ’phone

My head’s vibrating with the boom


I don’t like the bloke she’s taken with

He’s got ear-rings – quite uncouth

She’s like a teenager re-cycled

And he’s revived his mis-spent youth


They’re upsetting all the neighbours

As last night at half-past two

They staggered up the driveway

I could tell they’d had a few


She’s bought eyelash extensions

Grown a fringe and had it lightened

Now she’s ringing up the dentist

To have her false teeth whitened


They’re going off on holiday

No, not Eastbourne by the sea

If they just planned to sit in shelters

I’d be more likely to agree


No, they’ve booked a Caribbean cruise

It’s caused a lot of trouble

Not for them two single cabins

They’ve gone and booked a double


The situation’s getting urgent

We must prove her mind’s unsound

She’s spending all her money

So I got the doctor round


She’s taken back her pension book

And they’re making out new wills

Now she’s poured gin into her cocoa

And won’t take her sleeping pills


I felt medical opinion

Would provide a bit of hope

That’s before she told the doctor

Where to stuff his stethoscope


I thought I’d better ring you

To get this off my chest

Now you won’t believe this, Sue

She’s chucked out her thermal vest


She’s bought herself some ‘leathers’

Doesn’t care that she’s a sight

In a fluorescent helmet

She’s riding pillion on his bike


Last night they went out clubbing

Disco-danced ’till after one

And, Sue, it isn’t seemly

For old folk to have such fun


I’d like to have her grounded

Turn the key and lock her in

She said she’d contact Age Concern

And found the number where to ring


She’s had her toe-nails polished

Now she’s gone beyond the pale

She’s the only old aged pensioner

With a blue-rinsed pony-tail


And she’s gone vegetarian

She’s out there hugging trees

And he’s into Morris Dancing

With bells tied round his knees


Yes, I might be menopausal

And hysteria is looming

But Sue – this is our mother

That this gigolo is grooming


But now this is the last straw

The one that broke the camel’s back

She’s got herself a tattoo

And I’m sure they’re snorting ‘smack’


Mother’s gone quite loopy

Don’t know what Dad would have said

Can you hear that thump and twanging

It’s the bed-springs on her bed


I’m going to barge right in there

I’m going to shout and rave

This house will know no peace again

Until she’s in her grave


Now I’ve got to ’phone the vicar

Get him here quick as he can

Mother’s just informed me

She’s ripped up her funeral plan


Sue, Susan, are you listening

Can you have Mother there

She’s driving me quite mental

And I’m tearing out my hair


I can’t cope any longer

My nervous breakdown’s overdue

I’m evicting Mother and her lover

They can come and live with you


Now Sue please don’t be horrid

To say I’ve feathered my own nest

You know I care for Mother

And acted for the best


I can’t believe you find this funny …..”

What’s that buzz – the dialling tone

My heartless sister Susan

Has hung up the flaming ’phone


By Jean Hill



How we got the news through Wokingham by Alan Brown

Alan Brown of  the Wokingham Library Poetry Group has  written a poem about his recent attempt to drive through the town.

How we got the news through Wokingham
(with apologies to Robert Browning)

He jumped in the Volvo with Maurice and me.
I buckled my seat-belt, we buckled all three,
then fired up the engine, demisted the screen,
and wiped the dashboard, where my coffee had been.
With road works denying its chance to deduce,
we knew that the Satnav would be of no use.

Arborfield, Coppid Beech and Twyford Road, too,
are building sites now, with new housing in view,
while old Denmark Street, which had long been one-way,
was just “No-Way, Jose”, for many a day.
The rat-run was tailed back on Evendons Lane,
with Blagrove Lane closed, just to add to the pain.

So which way to go to avoid the great jam
choking the traffic around Wokingham?
With the damned threeway lights on Finchampstead Road
confounding our progress, our journey was slowed.
For the first half an hour we moved at a crawl.
The next fifteen minutes we moved not at all.

As we sat in the queue we found with dismay
it gets even worse on Veolia day.
At last we agreed, with sad resignation,
we could yet be hours from our destination
and as we’d set out without toothbrush or comb,
we turned round our motor and headed back home.

Tired and defeated, we pulled into my drive
and mugs of tea later, began to revive.
The news that we carried must now arrive late.
Those eager to hear it would ponder our fate.
So as that harsh journey our spirits had vexed,
we played Grand Theft Auto and sent them a text.