Young Poets

Published here are some of the excellent poems we receive from our gifted young writers.

You can submit poems either by post (please enclose a stamped address envelope for reply), via our on-line portal, or by email to Please mark the contents ‘Young Poet Submission’, put this in the subject line if you are submitting by email, and put your name, age and address on each page of the submission.

Please submit no more than four poems. You should be aged between 16 and 25 years, the work should be unpublished. 

More information about submitting your poetry

Lily Finch

Lily Finch

David and Goliath Story

So you, unperturbed,

let me weep on your

marvellous stomach–

hallowed ground,

ribbed by the sleeping mounds

of nested muscles–

and when I am done,

wrung out, washed in,

belly-up on the sand

like a beached jelly,

you gift me a Stanley Hammer:

practical yet elegant,

like me, on a good day

then later, you tail me

from New Cross to Kilburn

in a biblical flood,

you out on your cycle

and I, tracing your lights

from my great, greasy

bus-box, petrified–

a silver-flash sardine

chasing a humpback,

a David and Goliath Story!

you tell me, hero-mode–

but tell me this, tell me how,

of all the faces in the world,

did I align myself to yours?–

noble-nosed, baby-flushed–

a miracle! Pulled up next to mine,

I spy you, Lover,

through the window-fogged—

I took a neat nail

and my Stanley Hammer,

hung that grin up

on my heart’s cushioned wall.

Sticky Lullaby

goodnight my darling                        

  I’m four floors up at Senate House

just drifting off pleasantly   

  in the room chock-a-block with Chesterfields

rows and rows of them                   

  like dimpled pigs in the abattoir queue

waiting for the making              

  of a thousand slick little sausages

so goodnight my darling            

   I’m taking the piglets

and we’re getting out of here

  we trot fast in our finest cowboy boots

licking our fuzzy lips

   and thrusting our coiled appendages,

and what’s more, we’re dreaming of you           

   making sticky love to me

at strange, hip-aching angles

   in a high sticky barn where the pigs aren’t dead,

just sleeping,                                       

   in a puff of apricot hay;

you and I have burnt our bookbags

   and grown snouts

so there’s nothing, really,                       

   to be getting on with.


after Ben Jonson

Thou more then most sweet glove,

   Unto my more sweet love,

   Suffer me to store with kisses

   This empty lodging…

When the rain came I read a book of love poems

I was shrivelled as a hag, and in it there was Jonson

writing his Lady as a white kid glove, so desperate

was he to shove his busy red fingers into her;

but she’ll get holes, I said aloud, in her nice thin leather

she’ll get holes, whilst outside someone bulldozed

someone else’s home, so the bricks above me quivered

and the windows quaked: us next! they cried, but still I rifled

through my sonnets, singing Oh God!

when will I ever learn

Michael Liu

Michael Liu


Teeth, the bones I clean,

bite into this pillow.

This bed is not mine,

it is perhaps my late grandfather’s;

or just another metaphor

left in this parcel of land

that could have belonged

to my grandfather.

Inside my eyelids:

two melting balls of chocolate.

Outside my eyelids:

the fields and its bones of rice

seen through the window.

Long ago my grandfather’s son left

for some exodusted nation

and so did I.

Here, the smell is unbearable

and the eyes of my eyes forget themselves

amidst fog, amidst my grandfather’s body

shaped in a certain way when he boils long long noodles.

The chickens sleep and don’t judge us anymore.

They wait, as I do too.

the makings of blood

Under this streetlight you will watch

eight million photons dissect this puddle

until its basic formula is revealed.

From it derives a time without water

when we had held a drop of rain

holier than blood drying

on the side of a temple, a priest

chanting prayers for rain,

holding up a human heart

for the children to see.

From it derives a time without water,

when a hundred thousand trucks

drove down to southern California

with water in their metal wombs.

Let yourself fall in love with it again,

because we are nothing

but memories of the rain.

Look at this puddle one more time,

and watch the rubber wheels of a car

roll through it, blowing out

eight million photons

and the acrid smell of gasoline.

These are the facts of the puddle,

its chemical composition and acidity,

the bottom of little boots that splash them,

and the fingerprints they accumulate.

More Young Poets

Grace Marshall

Esplanade I saw a man on the edge of the sea one black morning. No sand, just stones, and me on the Esplanade. He paused at the lap of the waves and surveyed. Where I stood on the grey I could tell his upset Too far from his wife who rose and fell further out....

Alex Walker

Strange Winter river pouring daily puff of coal chatter of friends press of water against the lock gates overflow balsamic moon I am swallowed up I am swept away in the overflow of turkey tails lobular expanses drops of rain strung like beads of liquid starlight...

Anna Ray

Exile Displaced I break myself up in a million pieces Can’t forget the taste of the sky more bitter than my aching tears or the airport-coffeed flavour in my mouth Eyes closed uncomfortable flicker Out of the window the trees are running away Disjointed thoughts to...

Imogen Davies

Starlings Flit from Lobster Pots Starlings flit from lobster pots The harbour – a nest Of buoys and nets – A breath – To the beat of boats And wings – Sun and sea sing – Salt clear notes – blue Chasing dawn’s dissolving hue – Hulls bead and dimple dew Over paint that...

Callum McGee

Withered church of Ormskirk God’s stone temple returns to weed brittle bricks of busted bones slant sideways a shadow of its former self, glass sockets empty, shrivelled foundations Green veins entwine brown vessels solid clots collect dust, splintery bones wither...

Penelope Beretta

Folding Ennui I saw a man do it once. I was standing on the cobblestones, The smell of rain still in the air. His long fingers scored the paper Like knives. He made the hours Into a little swan, And watched it flutter away. I made mine into a clock, And set it...

Cecilia Padilla

Fictional females I’m not that woman whose silence you praise behind the cover of your book. Who will wait for you, late, with a warm bed, a static smile and an amnesic morning. I’m not that woman who forgives every slip of temper, Who cradles every slap you blow and...

Abi Skeldon

golden hour The kids are out of school, flappingtheir coats around, attempting teenagewingspan, spinning as if they would leavea trail of feathers behind them. They’re competingwith the screeching of Canadian geeseand swans who finally reclaimthe water from the...

Sidney Lawson

Garden (for Joan Lawson) You are my opus,My valuable,My green-thumbed work. As rainbow-producingHose sprays of aquaScatter your greenery, Your beauty becomesObvious to me.When I litter little seeds — Or pull weeds from thePermeable soilIn your dominion — Or watch...

Struan Gow

An Announcement: ‘Come here,’ my father had said. His brow was a weathered headstone. The sofa was soft beside him. Worn and stained and comfortable The words jolted and scratched out of his mouth. A machine breaking down but still running. Sentence by sentence, his...

Catriona Sutherland

Braemar I wanted this new start. To appear to others as something different. I think part of me, and this makes me feel a bit sick to admit, was drawn to starting a job as a psych nurse, as I knew I would be around people who were ‘clinically confused’- they had an...

Will Staverley

Dragonflies Dragonflies are playing on the terrace; the pools reflect back jade-green and gold. Each one casts its gleam on the other. And if you asked me to describe the scene, I’d kiss you on the forehead and say never, for what is the use of this empty talk; Better...

Charlotte Haley

The Umbrian Hound Behind You Turn left, you’ll reach the highs of life Turn right, you’ll meet the lows. For the mean old hound who bays and howls Sees all and, limping, follows. On crossroad one you’ll stumble, On crossroad two you’ll pause, But as long as you keep...

Heather Hughes

Dreamworks The boy on the moon is fishing, his shape slumped on the crescent. His feet dangle from the ledge, as he casts the rod. It hits the water with a plop. I want to ask him what he catches before the film starts. I’m wondering if that blue pool contains the...

Jessica Brown

Lemon A man threw a lemon into the air And caught it up, on a February afternoon. It was unseasonable: he didn’t care. The air smelled of flowers and the day-wrong moon – Or the woman-in-front’s expensive scent: It was all one. There was a brightness to the hour That...