Poetry Competition Commended | ‘while the hip hop is on MTV (Randy B.)’ By Jennifer Cook

For Poetry Day Ireland 2018, HeadStuff.org launched a brand new poetry competition to celebrate this fantastic day of poetic activity around the country. This year the theme of the day was ‘Surprises’. For our competition we chose the theme ‘Surprise Encounters’

Our esteemed panel of judges for this year’s poetry competition were Colm Keegan and Erin Fornoff. Erin noted that they were ‘looking for surprising poems, and poems that arrest and compel and leave an emotional legacy. National Poetry Day is a great way to show that poetry is a fibre in everyone’s life, and speaks to truth that everyone shares.’

We at HeadStuff were humbled by the response to the competition with the sheer numbers of those who submitted their work. The judges were deeply impressed by the high quality of submissions. it was an incredibly difficult decision to pick three winners and thirteen commended poems. 

Over the next few days we will publish the three placed poems and thirteen commended ones. We would like to congratulate all the poets on their achievement. 

We would also like to thank everyone who took the time to submit to the competition. We received a high number of submissions of really high quality so please do keep watching the HeadStuff poetry section for more details on future submission information. Finally we would like to thank University College Cork, Poetry Ireland and Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat for their support. 

Read All Winning and Commended Poems Here 


while the hip hop is on MTV (Randy B.)

By Jennifer Cook

Heard, not seen.
Not the column-framed kind of
death saved for senators
passing by day in a cloak
of blue blazer,
but a heartbeat smile flickering
against despondent night,
gaze turn down on a
bright pilot light of
rage in his belly
thinking fire under the desk, but
hiding enough air to
occasionally bubble up safely
and call me Miss,
spitting it, swallowing,
so jolly in front of the other kids
like he always knew what was
best for me
in the end /
in the end,
heard, not seen,
another rhythm found
distinguished on the grass,
like how a war falls in a
silent country (or does it really?),
a honey signal drowning
hollow metal
statistics on the radio
to coolest showers and strongest
cups of coffee
bootstrapping over the new
bodies found every next morning,
until one day you read a familiar name
in an obituary,
slowly finger-count the years since
you think he must have graduated,
as if in despair you were
also trained for calculating
the all-for-nothings,
and such-a-shames that
there were no actual eyewitnesses, 

but I hear now
they all could see
what finally killed him. 


The first HeadStuff poetry competition was kindly judged anonymously by Colm Keegan and Erin Fornoff.

HeadStuff are extremely grateful to University College Cork, Poetry Ireland, and Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat for their generous support of the competition.

Featured photo can be sourced here

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