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Open Competition Results 2019


                                        KENT & SUSSEX POETRY SOCIETY



We are pleased to announce the results of our Open Poetry Competition 2019, judged by Ruth o’Callaghan. The competition attracted over 1700 entries, and the prizes have been awarded as follows:

FIRST:            “August” by Alex Porter

SECOND:      “The Waiting Time” by Simon French

THIRD:           “Amy – Locked in” by Liz Eastwood


“Hiraeth”  by Jan Norto

“Why We Did What We Did When We Did”  by Ian Royce   Chamberlain

“The Sea Children” by Madeleine Skipsey

“A Lead Pellet”  by Harrison Collett

Thank you for entering.  Best wishes in your future poetry endeavours.

Competition Organiser.


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Open Competition Celebration and Janet Sutherland

Janet Sutherland


On March 19th. we will be celebrating the announcement of the 2019 Open Competition results!

The evening will begin with a reading of Ruth o’Callaghan’s  adjudication report and the prizewinning poems.  The presentation will be made by our 2017 winner, Janet Sutherland, who will be reading from her own work in the second half of the evening.  She has a new collection out this year, her fourth full collection published by Shearsman Books – Home Farm –  and has also been published in a wide range of magazines and appeared in several anthologies.  She is a co-founder of the Needlewriters cooperative which organises quarterly poetry events in Lewes.  She received a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2018.

Janet was raised on a dairy farm and is now settled in Lewes.  She is a full-time working poet, editor, freelance workshop provider and mentor.  She studied at Cardiff and Essex Universities and has an MA in American Poetry.  Janet makes use of a great variety of lyrical forms, with off-rhymes, sonnets, ballads and historical narratives.  We are in for a very special evening.

Our  venue is The Bedford Vaults, underneath the Bedford pub, which is located opposite Tunbridge Wells station, and we start at 8.00 pm.  See you there?

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Jane Commane

Tuesday, the 19th of February, is our next meeting at which you have not only the opportunity to read one of your poems in the Open Mic, but also the chance to hear the wonderful Jane Commane.
Jane was born in Coventry and lives and works in Warwickshire. She was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship in 2017 and her poetry has featured in many magazines and anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt Publishing) and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon). Her first full-length collection, Assembly Lines, was published by Bloodaxe in 2018. Jane is editor of Nine Arches Press and co-editor of Under the Radar. She is also co-author (with Jo Bell) of the poetry writing handbook How to be a Poet.
We will again be meeting in our new intimate subterranean home – the very atmospheric Vale Vaults below the Bedford pub on the corner of the High Street opposite Tunbridge Wells station. You can access the Vale Vaults through the pub (buy a drink at the bar on your way through, then there is a door at the far right hand side of the bar with stairs leading down to the Vaults) or avoiding stairs by going down the alley to the right of the pub (actually to the right of the Ashton Burkinshaw estate agents next door) – the alley is quite steep, but there is then just one step up into the Vaults through the door on the left at the bottom.
Come and enjoy another stimualting evening of poetry in Tunbridge Wells.

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Happy New Year! New Venue! Home-grown talent!

We are starting our 2019 programme with our popular annual event with three of our own members reading, and the splendid line-up on January 15th. at 8.00 pm comprises Susan Wicks, Mara Bergman and David Hensley, our very own Chair!

Susan Wicks                                      Mara Bergman                                                David Hensley,  (R) with Clive Eastwood


We are also celebrating our first meeting in our new venue, the Vale Vaults, below The Bedford, and opposite Tunbridge Wells Station, on the corner of the High Street.

Susan Wicks has won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize, the Scott-Moncrieff Prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and been short-listed for the T.S.Eliot Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. She has had seven collections of poetry published by Faber & Faber and by Bloodaxe. She has also published two novels with Faber & Faber.
Mara Bergman has won the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition and the Templar Quarterly Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in many magazines including Acumen, Ambit, Oxford Poetry, and The Rialto ,as well as in various anthologies. In 2018 she published her first full-length collection, The Disappearing Room, as well as her latest illustrated children’s book, The Tall Man and the Small Mouse.
David Hensley has had poems published in  magazines, including Agenda and Calliope, and the  Paper Swans Press anthology Best of British, 2017. His poems have inspired paintings by local artists including Chris Burke and Lucy Clayton.

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New Year! New Programme! New Venue!

Check out our exciting new programme (monthly meetings tab) And please note – we are moving to a new venue: The Bedford pub in Tunbridge Wells. Opposite the station and on the corner with the High Street.

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Paul McGrane


Paul McGrane


This month  we have pleasure in welcoming Paul McGrane.  For this month only, the event will take place in the upstairs room of The Rendezvous on Camden Road. The evening begins with a very brief AGM at 8.00, followed by Paul’s reading.

Paul McGrane is the co-founder of the Forest Poets poetry collective in Walthamstow and has also been The Poetry Society’s Membership Manager since 2006.  He runs the Poetry@3 open mic at the Poetry Café, London, on the first Thursday of the month.  In 2016 he was Highly Commended in the YorkMix Poetry Competition and Longlisted in the South Bank Poetry Competition.

His first poetry collection, Elastic Man, was published in  JULY 2018

“Paul McGrane’s voice is sexy, witty, humane. His poems are carefully crafted, often very moving, frequently laugh-aloud funny. Here is a confident, intelligent writer with a strong sense of social justice. A varied and accessible collection which deserves to do really well. I loved it.”                   Carole Bromley


We hope you will join us for a drink and a chat  before the evening activities formally begin.

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George Szirtes

George Szirtes  Image by Caroline Forbes


 Poetry’s only obligation is to the truth. Whether this truth is widely popular or not is irrelevant. It should be the best truth possible and that is the only quality that gives it any hope of survival.” – George Szirtes

George Szirtes was born in Hungary and emigrated to England with his parents—survivors of concentration and labour camps—after the 1956 Budapest uprising. His first book, The Slant Door (1979), won the Faber Memorial Prize. Bridge Passages (1991) was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. Reel (2004) won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and his New and Collected Poems was published by Bloodaxe in 2008. He has also translated, edited, and anthologised numerous collections of Hungarian poetry. For his translation work Szirtes has won several awards, including the Dery Prize for Imre Madach’s The Tragedy of Man (1989) and the European Poetry Translation Prize for Zsuzsa Rakovsky’s New Life (1994).

There will be an Open Mic session first – one poem each for everyone who wants to read.  It’s always a pleasure to hear new voices!

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