HLF2017 Courage Is Poetry Competition

We had an amazing response to our Poetry Competition, thanks to all who entered. Poems by our winners, runners up and finalists can all be read below - or why not follow our Poetry Trail using the map below (competition entries will start going up alongside our established poets' work from our launch date on 3 March.

Here are a few of the sites around Huddersfield showcasing work by five established poets appearing at this year's Festival.


WINNER (Over 16 category)

By Theresa Sowerby

A stand of rowan in a Yorkshire town
braves traffic fumes and flaunts
shocking blood-red clusters against
the urban grey and in the branches
hang a hundred waxwings, heads nodding,
jamming their bills with berries, inland
now but feathers still damp with salt wind
and in each small skull
the coordinates for steppe or fjord.

This winter daybreak a weak sun
leaks onto road and pavement
where the migrant workers come
to cafés, hospitals, hotels. Some
dreaming the dry cold of a real winter,
or evening air loud with crickets,
or the cadence of a first tongue.
Good morning. A latte and muffin.
Please, Thank you. Alien words bed in.

One looks up, points and all stare
in wonder at the barrel-chested
waxwings, slicked-back Mohicans
and the red seal on their folded wings
that marks their right of passage.


WINNER (Under 16 category)

By Hanna Hudson

I Am Her

I am her
Her courage is motivating
She moves with breathless elegance
Yet her footsteps leave complex blemishes
On the face of Earth

I am her
She does not sit at the back of the bus
Or cower to extremists and racists
Her fearlessness is bulletproof
And she intimidates all uneducated prejudice
That question her credibility or drive

I am her
She carries her lamp
And guides all worriers astray
With impelling blossoms budding in the
Dark locks of her curios head

So thank you Frida, Malala, Florence,
Emmeline and Rosa
Thanks to you
We are she
And I am her


FINALISTS (Over 16 category)

Runner Up

By Simon Williams

Everyday Courage

Each morning before leaving the house
She would struggle into an ugly overcoat
Woven from fear and bitter experience
With pockets full of memories
Rough and heavy as millstones
Then each morning before leaving the house
She would look in the mirror
Square her shoulders and
With her chin held high
Go out anyway

Highly Commended


The Gladiator Ward
This is the gladiator ward
And it can go, either way.
Thumbs up.  Thumbs down.
We all make our way into the arena –
The walk is different, but the fear is the same.
My armour is a nightie that you bought me.
Doreen’s shield is an apple pie that the kids made.
We never know which emperor – sorry Doctor –
Will be sitting in judgement today.
None of us signed up for this – we were all captured
Brought here in wire cages from far off lands called home.
Our families miss us – the old us –
And all vow to return.
But some will not.  The lions will claim them.
But no one goes down without a fight.
And the cheers ring out when they see us, still standing.


By Hannah Hodgson


It is water
that pushes its way through flood gates
up my nose, fills my head
puddles in my lungs.

There is a crowd in my throat
and I am choking
on people.

My breaths,
shallow as car revs.
Lungs, laced shoes
pulled tighter, tighter

in enclosed space.
Everyday I show a smile
I hand embroidered,
every night I rebuild myself

like Jenga blocks.
My smile shakes
But stays, it stays
it stays.


Lynda Turner

Kirklees’ Pilgrims
Children who flee
Over land or seas
Under siege

By Inez Patino


Tears in a row
Perfectly formed
Softening the blow
Drop by drop
A silent rage
That cries "no more!"
And a gentle whisper.."I'm still here".


By Angie de Courcy Bower


Measure us:

not by how we suffer but how we survive

not by who we lose but the love we derive

not by our scars but how well they heal

not by bitterness but how grateful we feel

not by religion but the empathy we share

not by colour but how much we care

not by our lack but what wisdom received

not by our age but the insight perceived

not how little we earn but how little we owe

not the struggles we have but how much we grow

measure us

not by our fears but the courage we show…

By Jack Faricy


18 A-listers you didn’t know were gay
Vet commits suicide, squashes dog
Bacardi-fuelled nuns’ marauding holiday
Swings both ways?  Tennis bombshell’s stray snog
Win a pair of 3D-printed testicles
16 selfies snapped moments before death
Bank robber runs for mayor against Giggles
the pig.  Who knew these celebs were on meth?
27 therapeutic cat vids
won’t reach mum-with-no-phone, Sahar,
who fled airstrikes with three of her kids
but doesn’t know where the other nine are.
Her heart’s stripped raw with each breaking day.
Pluck.  Not a flinch.  She won’t look away.

(Inspired by Sahar and her Family, a photo taken in a Lebanese refugee camp by Dario Mitidieri)


By Anne Broadbent 


As if goaded by
a frothing mouth of swaggering spittle,
the small rescue vessel
flings itself into the swell of a sea
too frightening to conceive.

Life-riskers, life-savers
search a dynamic shifting surface
in the belly of the beast.
Twenty-three call outs daily
cradle thousands to safety.

Courage of the finest,
wrung from hands and hearts
of lifeboat crews,
is given for free,
to the lives of you and me.

By Rebekah Marriner

Courage is…

standing in a windowless room
whilst you hear the world roar outside.
  To shout out loud ‘I’m coming’
and with the tone that says ‘I mean it’.
      To grasp the only door handle
firmly, ‘til your fingertips go white

   and exit.


By Mantz Yorke

The Bad Step

Hiking the loch-side from Camasunary
to the Black Cuillin, the Bad Step
is a shock: no scramble, just a crack
across a slab slanting steeply down
to water deep enough to drown. 
Below, Loch Scavaig is as clear as glass,
its pebbly bed dappled by the sun. 

Flashback, half a century ago:
the Head announcing in assembly
a pupil had drowned trying to swim
Porth yr Ogof’s Resurgence Pool. 
I imagined him dragged down
by boots, struggling in the dark
till water filled his lungs.  Alone,

I weigh the risk, check the rucksack
will unclip, laces easily pull free.  Scared
almost to immobility, I edge my boots
along the slit, hands walking the rock
like an awkward arthropod, till I regain
the rocky track and can ring-pull a beer,
effervescent at deliverance from fear.

By Janet Blackburn

Courage of ordinary people.

It is the woman who shaves her head,
even before the first chemotherapy.
The old man who still smiles philosophically
as he cares for his beloved wife,
whilst her mind unravels.
The child who remains joyful at finishing the race
even though they are last.

The girl, who quietly challenges racism, in the bus queue.
The boy who comes out loud and proud,
to all his macho mates and disapproving parents.
The Mum and Dad, who although crying inside
stay strong, as they hold hands with their dying child.

Tireless volunteers, who fearlessly face danger
to support a stranger, through manmade mayhem
or natural disaster,
with no thought of thanks.
Their names unknown.

It is the extraordinary resilience of ordinary people,
facing life’s challenges with fortitude and dignity,
who carry on relentlessly.
When asked they modestly reply
‘It’s what anyone would do, isn’t it?’

If our trial comes, however big or small,
we can but hope to find such courage in our hearts.


FINALISTS (Under 16 category)

Runner up

By Hayley Line

Problems with the Hamster

I was playing
But he was hurting

I was complaining
But he kept going

I was crying
But he kept hurting

I stopped him
I still lived

We were separated
I kept living

Highly Commended

By Megan Whitworth

Courage Is…

that moment you grit your teeth and clench your fists,
you feel it running from legs to wrists,
when you realise you have no reason to hide,
your courage is truly deep inside,

courage is taking a step in the dark with no light,
courage is standing up and winning the fight,
courage is the key to a locked door,
you have the key; what are you waiting for?



By Freya Hanson

My Granddad Is Dead
My granddad is dead
But he isn’t,
My granddads mind is awake
When it should be asleep,
My granddad won’t eat
Because he thought he already has,
My granddad forgets

His wife knows he’s dying
But doesn’t want to give in,
His wife visits him everyday
He doesn’t know who she is,
His wife eats alone
M & S meals for one
His wife sees him forget

My granddads condition makes him die
It reduces his life span
My granddad doesn’t look the same
He’s lost a lot of weight,
My granddad has a sign on his door
Which tells you about him,
My granddad doesn’t know he forgets

His son watches him die
Suffers in a different way,
His son knows what will happen
When he tries to stand,
His son knows his mum
Is struggling through the trauma,
His son knows he forgets

My granddad looks like he is dying
His face is a sickly white,
My granddad loved football
He tells us scores from 1975,
My granddad isn’t here anymore
And he isn’t coming back
I wish my granddad didn’t forget

I cry because I know he will die
It’s only a matter of time,
I know the two bravest people
My dad and Nan,
I hear them talk about him
And how it’s getting worse
I will never forget… this


By Merry Walker

Do you dare?

Do you dare to take the risks?
Do you dare to fight the fight?
Do you dare to take on the evil?
Do you dare to dance alone?

Would you hate the hated?
Would you stand in the crowd?
Would you love the unloved?
Would you miss the lost?

It is courage that runs with the tiger in the wild,
It is courage that dances with the fairies,
It is courage that helps you make the first move,
It is courage that finds you when you are lost.

Do you want to become what you see in your wildest dreams?
Do you want what you wish when you blow out those birthday candles?
Courage will get you there; it is what makes a tiger leap to its prey,
It is what keeps that dancer dancing, even when she dances alone.

With courage you will dare to take the risks.

By Sanaa Hussain


Of course I’m fine, why do you ask?
Oh don’t mind this, it’s just my mask
Don’t forget this, my pain IS real,
I’m not lying this is how I feel

Going through immense pain but all I’ve got is a fake smile on my face,
How would you know, you’re not in my place
At school I have on my face is a grin,
All I ever wanted was to be thin

My heart is now in so much pain,
My tears are falling like pouring rain
I am everything you wanted me to be
Everything and anything instead of me
I struggle each day to survive living my life with doubt
I'm trapped in a death hole with no hopes of getting out

They all think ‘Pick on the boy who is all alone
Just because his identity is his own’.

I just need to find the courage, speak up and tell
Then maybe things… things will one day turn out well


By Zoe Ramage

Courage Is…

Your gaze locks onto me,
Your eyes are blazing.
You continue to look.
Your stare is not breaking.

I speak. I speak.
My voice is sounding.
I can’t hold the microphone.
My hands are shaking.

The music starts,
It sounds angelic.
You sit there, still staring in complete silence.
Five hundred people, yet no encouragement.

My voice sounds again,
This time I am singing.
You stare still,
This time, practically unblinking.

You look.
I feel your stare.
I am not afraid
There is no time for fear.

I bow.
You cheer.
The next person comes on.
You stare again.                                          


By Ellie Kellett –

Do you hear me?

People are shouting, screaming
My heart is pounding beating
Trapped alive
No escape

Do you hear me calling?
Crawling through tunnels and tunnels of rubble
Lost in the bed of white.

I see children weeping
Mothers searching
Fathers digging

Motionless bodys lay
Trapped under the debree
No room to breath

Sirens screaming
Lights beaming

Save them
Not me


By Iman Mohammed

'A Simple Catastrophe'

I'm a catastrophic book. 
Accumulating particles of dust and dirt, 
My author neglected me a while ago, 
Concealed me in a shelf- high up. 
Nobody may ever read me again. 
My pages fractured. 
Sentenced left obscure. 
Oblivious words scattered carelessly across the pages. 
Stains of ink ooze onto me. Each chapter bleeds with sorrow. 
My blurb deluded and fallacious. 
The pictures you see Are small fragments of scars and tears. 
Finger prints left on every page. 
From readers who've betrayed me 
Deeply imprinted. 
My spine gradually deteriorating. 
So please be gentle, 
whilst reading me 
After all I'm simply a calamitous book.


By Chelsea Jackson


You show me when you are nervous
Or even when you are scared,
When you’re standing up to bullies
To show that you care.

You can’t see me
But I am there,
Deep down inside you
Ready to burst

When you feel like giving up
And feel like shutting down,
Just remember you have me
I can help you succeed


By Skye Thomas-Smith

Jumping Out Of The Closet

She began to type a message.
Fingers jittering,
Head disagreeing,
Body shaking.

She clicked backspace,
Backspace, backspace.
Scared of her mother’s opinion.

She re-wrote the message:
“I’m bisexual… xx”
Her heart pounded,
She waited for a reply.

She began to regret what she had said.
There was no reply.
Her heart pounded as her body trembled.
Why was there no reply?

She daren’t look at her phone,
The message just sat there,
Pleading for her attention.

Her heart raced as she looked at the phone.
“I love you even still! xx”
Her breathing returned to normal…


By Mohammed-Zeeshan Latif

Courage Is…

They are big, strong and mean,
When I see them I just want to scream.
They punch me and hit me and make me look like trash,
I have so many bruises I look like a plum,
Makes me feel stupid and dumb.

Think of the pain and the humiliation,
I know it’s hard but why accept hesitation?
My blood was cheap not in your hand,
But if you had wanted you could stand.

Stand up to bullies don’t back away,
Believe in yourself you will have your day,
Don’t give up you are strong,
It will be over it won’t take long.

Stand up to bullies it’s never too late,
Don’t let someone else be the bait!


We hope you enjoyed reading the entries, now go and see them up around Huddersfield Town Centre, using our Poetry Trail at the top of the page (from 3 March onwards).



Huddersfield is looking for budding poets – with an eReader as top prize.

Have you got a poem inside you dying to get out?

We are looking for poems about courage for our Courage Is Poetry Project, which is being run in conjunction with Kirklees Council and Huddersfield District Committee.

The work of five poets appearing at our March Festival will be featured:

Lemn Sissay, Rose Condo, Owen Lowery, Lisa M Luxx and Michael Stewart

and alongside their poems, a selection of the competition entries will appear in key prominent spaces and shops within the Town Centre. Just look out for the footprints to see where the poems are being displayed.

Everyone visiting shops, bars and restaurants in Huddersfield will be able to read your poem and you can invite your friends and family to see your poem on display if it’s chosen for the project.

All poems must be original work by the entrant and no longer than one side of A4 (12pt font). There are two categories for entry: over 16s and under 16s.

The prizes will be awarded for a selection of the best poems and the winners will receive an eReader and runners up will receive Waterstone vouchers worth £25.

Deadline for entries is 10 February 2017

If you would like to take part please send in your entry:

via our Facebook page

by email to:

or by post to:

Courage Is Poetry Project
c/o Creative Economy Team
Kirkgate Buildings
Byram Street


If you are a business who would like to take part by displaying a poster please contact



Courage Is Poetry Project: Competition Terms and Conditions

• Entries for the Courage Is Poetry Project Prizes 2017 must be on the subject of ‘Courage’.
• The closing date for entries is 10th February 2017.
• Each entrant may submit only one poem.
• Poems with joint authorship are ineligible.
• Entries must be written in English, and be no more than 48 lines in length. If submitted by post, they must be on A4 paper, and they should be typed or word-processed if possible.
• Name and address of the poet must not be included with the text of the poem, since entries are judged anonymously.
• Each poem must be the original work of the author.
• Winners will be notified by 28th February 2017, and will be invited to attend the launch event on 3rd March at the University of Huddersfield.
• The judges will be members of the HLF committee and their decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into concerning this decision.
• Entrants can be any age. There are two categories Adult category– over 16 and under 16 category to meet the criteria entrants age will be registered on 10th February 2017.
• Entry can be made by email at or by post to Courage Is Poetry Project, Huddersfield District Committee Creative Team, Kirkgate Buildings, Byram Street, Huddersfield, HD1 1BY The copyright of each poem remains with the author. Authors of the winning poems will grant the Courage Is Poetry Project permission to publish or broadcast the poems as required as part of the project and Huddersfield Literature Festival.
• The competition is not open to committee members of Huddersfield Literature Festival and anyone working directly on the Courage is Poetry Project.




HLF2015 competition

Our competition winners have now been announced!

Huddersfield residents and school students let their imagination run riot in their entries to the Huddersfield Literature Festival’s writing competition, organised in association with HCAN (Huddersfield Creative Arts Network).

Entrants were challenged to imagine a ‘Future Huddersfield’ of 2050 and more than 80 people sent in their postcards or entered through social media. The entries, which were limited to 25 words, could be in the form of the first paragraph of a short story, a film pitch, a poem or a haiku.













The winning entries were praised by the festival committee for their imagination and inventiveness.


In the adult (over 16) category, the winner was Mark Stephens with the following poem:

A major tectonic shift
Never mind the Great African Rift
Shallow tropical seas return
And tourists encouraged to go
To visit the Huddersarchipelago






The Under 16 category winner was a joint entry by Poppy Lownds and Connie Easby, both aged 11 from South Crosland Junior School.

Their imaginative short story idea has won an author visit for their school.


In 2050, there’ll be mind reading instead of communicating.
There’ll be the leaning tower of too many doughnuts.
We won’t eat food, we’ll eat anything.




RUNNERS UP - Adult entries (over 16)

I am 80.
Still alive.
Still wearing Brasher walking boots and staring at the moon.
Still wondering whether to get a dog and a wig.
Julie Rose Clark


Crisp primal air
paints bright Town’s framing hills.
Our threads unpicked and re-woven
where fancy takes us.
Skies swept clear for feathered flight.
Anne Steward


Future Huddersfield,
Anti-gravity real ale,
Floating pubgoers
Benedict Smith


Giants concede try
Ref change your bionic eyes
That ball was forward
Mark White



RUNNERS UP - Under 16 entries

In the year 2050,
a deadly disease called hypoactinucleotinsplazmozodium
turned people into zombies,
which destroyed everything.
Will anyone survive to tell the tale. . .?
Hasan Saeed
Age 11, Mirfield Free Grammar School


Prisoners of our minds,
Sightless posting on Facebook timelines
Miss the world around you,
Looking at your screen,
It’s not the future...
It’s 2015
Tariq Said
Age 15, North Huddersfield Trust School


Castle Hill, a testament to might.
John Cotton, a testament to economy.
The great population, a testament to happiness.
It’s the city that’s a town – it’s Huddersfield.
Abdul Wahaab
Age 15, North Huddersfield Trust School


The claxon screeched in the air.
Huddersfield was dead quiet
all that was heard was the
chains on doors rattling…
It was time.
Amie Brook
Age 15, North Huddersfield Trust School