PBS National Student Poetry Competition

Read the anthology!

The Poetry Book Society are delighted to reveal that the winner of the 2015 National Student Poetry Competition is Daisy Lafarge, a fifth-year undergraduate student at Edinburgh University. The judge of this year's competition, Andrew McMillan, said of Daisy's winning poem, ‘the lockjaw boys of towncountry':

"A unique poem that announced itself as a contender almost immediately; it has the swagger and confidence of a prize-fighter- there's an exuberance of language, an ambitious (though controlled) formal accomplishment, and a narrative that shifts between singular observation and broader statements."

Daisy will receive a prize of £200 as well as Full Membership of the Poetry Book Society.

Second place was awarded to Miranda Cichy, of the University of Essex, whose poem ‘Bee Summer' scoops £50 and Full PBS Membership. Alex Vann, an English Literature undergraduate at Goldsmiths University, won third place and will receive £25 and PBS Membership for his poem ‘Flower Shop Cactus'.

Seven poets were Highly Commended and will receive book bundles and Associate PBS Memberships: Ali Lewis, Jamie Osborn, Miranda Cichy, Elisabeth Sennitt-Clough, Flora de Falbe, Eve Lacey and Jim Campbell.

Andrew praised the poems as "mature, deft and moving examples of our art; they do the most we could ask of any poetry; they present distilled, clear images, they focus on a specific part rather than go for the whole broad picture, they trust the reader enough to not want to sum everything up for them", heralding the e-book collection of the 20 best poems as proof of the sheer variety and vitality of poetry today.

You can read all the winning poems and Andrew's comments in the free e-book.

The PBS would like to thank Ed Baker for his generous support of this year's PBS National Student Poetry Competition.

'the lockjaw boys of towncountry' by Daisy Lafarge

the fields behind the village hall are hedgeless.
sheep plummet through space and corroborate the trees,
children play below canopies that shudder and drip with bad advice.

it is wild there. boys command the knickers off lesser beings.


last night there was a play in the hall. Cathy stood centre stage in red, dressed up like
a length of insulated piping. by day she works in the pet store, meting out dog treats in
brown paper bags. but on stage, such heat: Cathy conducts the heart of man. clackk
; her boys roll trains in the aisle, past their bedtime.

the village hall stage is where affairs come to light. something to do with the amateur
rigging, its parapets over the daily thrum. woebegone! - cried Cathy, and in that
moment, in her slinking delivery - Cathy's husband knew she was fucking the
electrician. he thinks: annunciation of the doorbell. he thinks: falsely tripped wires,
bathroom scissors. the colours of betrayal: live, earth, neutral. his mouth is a sealed
letterbox. he posts himself calmly out of his seat, scooping the boys up like dead pets.



outside the hall, the boys whinge for their trains. the dark trees chide them: who's the
cargo now?
dad hauls them into the car. he has folded inwards; a crane apprising
itself to the scrapheap, its wrecking ball abscissioned. the car goes and goes: rage rolls
about on the backseat. his sons play in silence.

Cathy bled into her dress the whole time; but no one could tell.


anger is like ilex in the mouth; the lockjaw boys grow up around its shape.

years after Cathy renounces the stage; the boys start going to town at weekends. up
and down the street, bodies declare themselves: a hundred teens coincide in black,
pickle in new flesh outside certain establishments. it is like this in every town; the
floral-boxed slake, the pedestrianized zones.

no one remembers what came first; the broken shag bands or the scratch of hessian on
a girl's belly, watching Kill Bill in her underwear as thankless cum rains down on her
back. that bit with the nails in the foot, blood through the holes of a pure white


the walk to school was the same for everyone; the green metal box set into the
pavement that wasn't really there, even when you looked at it. wires, pipes or
something. electricity? this is what it felt like- to be present, but only barely.

a generation slouches round the corner, half-leaning to its podunk future like a hinge

PBS National Student Poetry Competition Winners 2015

1st Place - Daisy Lafarge, University of Edinburgh (‘The Lockjaw Boys of Towncountry')

2nd Place - Miranda Cichy, University of Essex (‘Bee Summer')

3rd Place - Alex Vann, Goldsmiths, University of London (‘Flower Shop Cactus')

Highly Commended

Jim Campbell, Oxford Brookes (‘Ordnance Survey, 1:25000')
Miranda Cichy, University of Essex (‘Swoose')
Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, University of Oxford (‘Threshold' & ‘Unmetered')
Flora de Falbe, University of Cambridge (‘What She Said to the Old Man')
Eve Lacey, UCL (‘Articulations of the Pelvis')
Ali Lewis, Goldsmiths, University of London (‘Pressure')
Jamie Osborn, University of Cambridge (‘The Stars Will Circle Overhead')

Runners Up

Flora de Falbe, University of Cambridge (‘Poem in which I do not have a Thyroid Problem')
Poppy Green, Liverpool John Moores University (‘The Invincible Man')
Toni-Ann La-Crette, Manchester Metropolitan University (‘Cutty Sark')
Rachel Lewis, University of Cambridge (‘The Doctor' & ‘Godafoss')
Tammy Reynolds, Liverpool John Moores University (‘Flower Picking on the Motorway')
Jasmine Simms, University of Durham (‘Kyz Kuu')
Edwin Stockdale, University of Birmingham (‘Field Place, 1849')
Victor Støle, University of Cambridge (‘Sundust')

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