Poetry Competition Commended | ‘Haunting’ By Paul Hetherington

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 andAnam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat for their support. 

Read All Winning and Commended Poems Here 


By Paul Hetherington

At first it was a small haunting. A few coins taken from jars; occasional light footsteps on the stairs. One morning there was a note pinned to his study wall but within weeks he’d forgotten what it said. Later, she came more often, as if searching—and then as if she were more and more ensconced there. He never quite saw her—even when he waited and suddenly turned on the light, there was only a rustle of a hem on the stairs; at most a vague impression of a moving leg. Eventually she spoke to him most nights, even as he rolled and blocked his ears. A story about being left; of not knowing her way. She became most of what he had. 

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.

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash