Thursday, 30 July 2020 11:44

Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2020: The winners!

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in Poetry
Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2020: The winners!

This year the judges, Andy Croft of Smokestack Books and Mary Sayer from Unite, picked seven rather than five poems which they thought worthy winners of the Award. So Unite have kindly agreed to provide additional prize money this year for all seven poems. The winners are

Handbook for 2021 by Jane Burn

A Stitch in Time by Annie McCrae

Donkey Jacket by Raymond Miller

Burden of Ownership by Jenny Mitchell

If Boris Johnson had a Cuppa with my Nan from Willenhall by Antony Owen

Salvation by Laura Taylor

All Our Shadows are Black by Sylvia Telfer

The mentoring package this year, to help unpublished writers with their first collection, will be offered to Trisha Heaney. Congratulations to the seven winners and the mentee (if that's the right word) and thanks to all those who entered.

This year's Bread and Roses anthology containing a selection of entries will be available to buy later in the year. If you wish to order copies in advance please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here are the judges' comments on this year's entries:

It is hard to write about the injustices of contemporary society without slipping into easy denunciations, second-hand phrases and borrowed anger. The best political poetry should also be painful to read, interrogating itself and challenging what the reader thinks they know or believe to be true.

The entries to this year’s Bread and Roses competition certainly share a sense of impatient rage and revulsion at the way the world works; but they are also distinguished by intellectual ambition, literary technique and political resilience. And they say what needs to be said about the subjects that matter most – inequality, work, unemployment, solidarity, struggle, homelessness, racism, illegal wars, environmental disaster. - Andy Croft, publisher of Smokestack Books

I was listening to Linton Kwesi Johnson on the radio the other day when he said 'poetry doesn't change the world, only people can do that'. Reading these magnificent, resonant poems and thinking about the people who wrote them and the people who will read them – gives me hope that massive and meaningful change in these overwhelming times is possible. - Mary Sayer, Unite in Schools Coordinator

Here is one of the winning entries: 

Burden of Ownership

by Jenny Mitchell

He measures cost in body parts. A head pays
for a month of food; two eyes a week of drink.
Christmas adds a throat. Carved out with care
the neck still holds a yoke if the chin is firm
weight evenly proportioned.

Four breasts pay for his wife's new car, a mad
extravagance she must not think will be the norm.
Her furs demand a score of navels.
One manly chest is paid for every house –
he only wants the very best.

A waist is worth the price of land: an acre for two wombs.
Twelve manhoods buy a gushing stream
to serve his many fields. A sack of feet placed
in a bank account, maintains his balance
and the boast: he's always in the black.

Read 2329 times Last modified on Friday, 31 July 2020 16:23
Mike Quille

Mike Quille is a writer, reviewer and chief editor of Culture Matters.