Christmas Poem Competition 2019 Results

And that’s a wrap!

The whole team at Poem Analysis would like to thank everyone that submitted a poem for our Christmas Poem Competition 2019. We had some great poems that really brought out the different aspects and types of Christmas different people have. It’s been a real pleasure to read all of the poems and it brings great pleasure to award one lucky aspiring poet $100 cash and $100 to the charity of their choosing.

 

The Results

In order to find the winner, we got some of our team of poetry experts to rank their three favorite poems that were entered.

  • Will Will created PoemAnalysis.com back in 2015 and has a team of poetry experts helping him analyse poems from the past and present. As well as managing PoemAnalysis.com, Will works as a Technical Specialist in Automotive Transmission Control and Calibration.
  • Emma – Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analysing poetry on Poem Analysis.
  • LJ – Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Poem Analysis team member ever since November 2015, providing critical analysis of poems from the past and present. Nowadays, he helps Will manage the team and the website.
  • Jack – Jack is undertaking a degree in World Literature and joined the Poem Analysis team in 2019. Poetry is the intersection of his greatest passions, languages and literature, with his focus on translation bridging the gap.

In terms of ranking and points:

  • For ranking 1st, 3 points
  • For ranking 2nd, 2 points
  • For ranking 3rd, 1 points
Poem EntryWill’s RankingEmma’s RankingLJ’s RankingJack’s RankingTotal
Maddi Crease’s Psych ward halls1st (3 pts)3
Jayali Peiris’ Entry3rd  (1 pt)3rd (1 pt)2
Henri Fotso’s Master Piece1st (3 pts)1st (3 pts)3rd (1 pt)7
Clare and Claire’s True Cost of Christmas3rd (1 pt)2nd (2 pts)3
Tom Jackson’s Entry1st (3 pts)3
Jessica Shinn’s Jesus, God’s Son2nd (2 pts)2
Benjamin Ede’s Are You Coming Home2nd (2 pts)2nd (2 pts)4

 

and the Winner is….Henri Fotso with Master Piece!

Congratulations to Henri Fotso on his poem, Master Piece. Henri is actually 12 years old, which makes it even more incredible how amazing this poem is. Here’s what Henry had to say about his poem Master Piece:

This poem highlighted importance of little, but significant, elements, moments and symbols in our life. People change and forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Upon winning the competition, we are happy to have sent Henri $100 cash, as well as donate $100 (£80) to the charity of his choice: in this case, Make a Wish Foundation.
You can read the full poem, Master Piece, below:

We will be analyzing this poem very soon, getting some insight into the poem from Henri himself too, so be sure to stay up to date on Poem Analysis and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to know when this happens!

 

Feedback of all the Poems Entered

It’s annoying that everyone can’t win this competition, as we really had some great entries. For this reason, here are some of the reasons why we liked the poems we ranked for in the above table:


Maddi Clase’s Psych Ward Halls

Psych Ward Halls

At the first snowfall of winter,
Teens crowd around windows and look out.
There are tears,
Especially from the younger ones.
Especially from those furthest from home.

Snow here does not mean merriment-
A festive season spent in love and laughter.
The cold weather spells long and treacherous drives,
A drive some families, with broken hearts, cannot undertake.

This is
Winter in the hospital.
This is winter when you can’t be trusted at home, can’t be
Safe.

This is Christmas, and as the big day dawns,
Those who remain in confinement wake with heavy hearts.
Some don’t want to lift the fork of their Christmas dinner.
Some didn’t expect to live to this year’s festivities.

All wish they were waking in their own beds, away from
This.

‘Merry Christmas!’
Cry the nurses,
Shrieking voices,
As they do their morning obs.
A more brazen child than me tells them
‘Shut up’,
Another swears.

And me?
I’m crying this Christmas,
In these psych ward walls.

Our Team’s Feedback

Jack - 1st Choice
Maddi addresses a situation which is a harsh reality for some people this holiday season. Not everyone has the same experience of having a Christmas at home surrounded by everyone they love, and ‘Psych Ward Halls’ explores a different kind of Christmas indeed. Drawing this to attention through poetry is something I think is really impressive, showing insight and then backing it up with some lyrical skill – that’s why I picked this poem as my favourite! The poem explores the inside of a psych ward of a hospital, showing glimpses of the children who are spending their Christmas Day there. The normal festive excitement is completely offset by the bleak depictions of the hospital scene. Even the environment seems ominous and off-putting, the wintery scene looming over the poem. The final isolation of ‘I’m’, separated from anyone else, sets up a really bleak final two lines of ‘Psych Ward Halls’. This poem doesn’t deal with happy parts of Christmas, but instead of a reality which touches many. In 2019, mental health is an incredibly important topic to discuss, with the influence of a supposedly exciting Christmas time sometimes leaving people feeling worse than ever. I think this poem captures a sense of this isolation, projecting a tragic snapshot of a quiet and lonely Christmas with great poetic technique. Great work Maddi, thanks for your submission!

Jayali Peiris’s Entry

So I waited for her to turn and look at me,
while the little lights flickered right ahead
on the little green tree, both alike unaware of me
and my thoughts and their heavy tread.

For her, it is her fancy gown and the caller at the other end
maybe even the bright lights, and the grandeur on the tabletop
But never seems to be this one thing, silently waiting to be mend
on the Christmas eve, with a Christmas decoration.

In silence just watching and waiting, even wondering
if we exchanged places, will I be the same? For now,
I am waiting with a little bubble in my heart, longing
For a little Christmas wish to dawn to.

Our Team’s Feedback

Emma - 3rd Choice
I chose this poem because of the different perspectives the speaker presented. They consider their own, and “hers”. Whoever this person is, they are living the season in a very different way. The speaker is also very aware of their own separation from the larger scene. Although they are physically present, there is an emotional and mental separation that comes out in the question at the end, “if we exchanged places, will I be the same?”
Will - 3rd Choice
To me, this is a deliberately vague poem, which I particularly love about this poem. It enables the reader to go off on a tangent, linking this poem to what they think it refers to. It could be seen as a romantic Christmas poem. It could be about a family member. It could be about a friend or anyone else the reader might love.  For this reason, I reread this quite a few times, looking for hints and clues as to if it is as vague as I first thought it was. That’s another thing I love about poems such as Jayali’s – it makes you want to read it multiple times, with each time you read it, you learn something else new. For this reason, this is in my top three, great poem.

Henri Fotso’s Master Piece

Master Piece

A boy of 3 steps up to his master piece,
The vibrance of the sparkled tinsle,
And the glowing flickering lights
Dazzle his joy filled eyes,
While his morphed reflection shines in baubles,
Which lay supspended from the emerald ruffles.
As he awaits his Christmas surprise.

That Christmas and 6 more,
Had sparks of festive spirit,
Till a phone and computer consumed him,
And the green he dreamed of before,
Was no longer the tree.

Winter rolled by many years later,
The boy now a man and a ginger wisp on his chin,
He had his own 2 boys and girl,
But not a spark of spirit,
Did he share from within.

He awakes one Christmas morning at 48,
To a glum and miserable silence,
Alone in a house where there was once 5,
He is covered in a humbug hide,
No lights no decoration no tree,
No jangly jangly bells nor reindeer,
To signify a merry sleigh ride.

He opens the dull curtains,
To see the white blanket all around,
Wrap around children as they play,
He looks and scours the piles of snow,
In search to look at the town statue,
However a Christmas tree is in his way.

Grabbing his grey hat, grey coat, grey shoes,
He heads out to the winter world,
The snow cracks and crunches under his feet,
The gate creaks open, he approaches with care,
Now the two come together, eye to star,
Though they thought they wouldn’t again meet.

A man steps up to his master piece,
The vibrance of the sparkled tinsle,
And the glowing flickering lights
Dazzle his joy filled eyes,
While his morphed reflection shines in baubles,
Which lay supspended from the emerald ruffles.
As he recives his Christmas surprise.

Our Team’s Feedback

LJ - 1st Choice
This was by far my favourite entry. I loved the cautionary nature of it. Speaking out against reliance on technology is one of my favourite subjects matters (he says typing on his phone!) I love the repetition from the first and final stanza. It creates a circular nature to the poem, which kind of suggests it’s a cycle that repeats itself. The poem has a lilting feel and scans beautifully. Some of the descriptive work is terrific and just really evocative and stirs a strong emotional response.
Will - 1st Choice
Just like LJ, I really loved this poem. Cyclic poems are extremely powerful and emotional, because they generally are able to make the reader engage much better with part of the cycle than other types of poems. I really enjoy the fact that this man lives his life, experiencing many different types of Christmases, which will hit a nerve with the most amount of people. Well written, great job Henri.
Jack - 3rd Choice
One thing I love about this poem is the repeated structure of the first and last stanzas. The connection across them, spanning both the whole poem and the man’s life, is a fantastic way to present the reencountering of the Christmas spirit. The repeated lines really solidify the links, showing how the man has regained his love of Christmas all these years later. I love the sense of development of the character throughout the poem, with the progression being a really impressive demonstration of skill. The poem has the best of both, with great depictions of exciting festive cheer, and also ‘dull’, colourless scenes of someone who has fallen away from the holiday traditions. A really nice poem, Henri!

Clare and Claire’s Entry

Christmas creates curses and blessings, highlighting haves and have-nots.

Creative PR pushes Frozen plastic tat into warm little hands.

What would Greta say?

New year’s overdraft will occur as bitter milk to swallow. Follow

#FridaysForFuture, let your kids off school as you add to landfill.

What would Greta do?

Politicians; professional rogues prorogue the uncomfortable truths and

say they’re spending to ‘tackle climate change’ – oh the irony of

a Magic Money Tree.

Families torn like discarded wrapping paper; their dystopian

futures battling against the cold or fleeing from the flames.

Shame on you decision makers.

Greta might be the change.

Our Team’s Feedback

Jack - 2nd Choice
‘True Cost of Christmas’ took a very different approach to the theme, focusing more so on a sceptical view of the holiday season rather than the festive cheer. What stood out for me was the clever use of alliteration throughout, creating a nice flow to the poem which is then quickly stopped by harsh intersecting lines surrounding Greta Thunberg. Winning Time’s Person of the Year 2019, the inclusion of the environmental activist Greta is a really nice twist to the poem. It pushes the reader to reflect on the reality of the season, looking at the economic difficulties and enforced capitalistic expectations which surround Christmas. Personally, my favourite line was ‘Families torn like discarded wrapping paper’, the use of simile here really draws ideas of the poem together; the collocation of broken families and torn wrapping paper working as a fantastic comparison embedded in the ideas of Christmas. Great work Clare and Claire!
LJ - 3rd Choice
The use of such a contemporary issue was very smart and instantly set the poem as contemporary. However, due to the subject, I don’t know how well it will age. Sure, Greta is a meme now, but will people still remember her in 2040? The occasional use of rhyme and enjambment lines creates a discord which helps add to the poem’s aesthetic. The refrain was also a nice touch as was the reference to the conservatives “magic money tree”.

Tom Jackson’s Entry

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb,
as the rural carrier,
driving the snowy roads,
hears from her bundles
the plaintive bleating of sheep,
the shuffle of sandals,
the clopping of camels.
At stop after stop,
she opens the little tin door
and places deep in the shadows
the shepherds and wise men,
the donkeys lank and weary,
the cow who chews and muses.
And from her Styrofoam cup,
white as a star and perched
on the dashboard, leading her
ever into the distance,
there is a hint of hazelnut,
and then a touch of myrrh.

Our Team’s Feedback

Emma - 1st Choice
I chose to rank this poem as my number one favourite as the writer described an unusual perspective. I was charmed by the use of the mail carrier as the deliverer of Christmas stories, songs and religious histories. The poem was not overly rhymed or overly metered. It was instead unified by the use of alliteration and anaphora. Repetition played an important part in the text itself, but also in the reader’s mind as I could feel the pattern of the deliveries.  The opening and closing of the mailboxes was implied and the endless semi-secure, cave-like spaces the cards are placed into, are repeated across the countryside. Lastly, I appreciated the simplicity of the story. The poet chose to elevate a simple story of a simple person, carrying with them poignant images of the holiday.
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Jessica Shinn’s Entry

Jesus, God’s Son
As you gather around your glowing tree
May you find yourself on bended knee.
In awe of a baby who came just to die
To pay for the sins of you and I.
An unfathomable present, God’s promise to us.
The reason for the season we call our Christmas.
He was born in a manger, no room in the Inn.
Surrounded by strangers with hearts wide open.
We call them the wise men, bearing gifts for the king.
The dark blessed night graced by angels who sing.
He left the comfort of Heaven, a place of glory.
To be pierced, and beaten, and nailed to a tree.
Our Savior he rose just three short days later.
Death could not hold him, His love was much greater.
So as you come and sit around your bright tree,
Remember the light represents our Holy
Jesus, God’s son, His life was poured out.
A gift freely given, His love so devout.

Our Team’s Feedback

Will - 2nd Choice
This is a really beautiful poem that encapsulates the best of the Christmas, from a religious perspective. There is a lovely flow to the whole of the poem, assisted with the easy rhyming structure pf AABB. What I liked about this poem, especially, is the fact that it reminds us of what Christmas was originally about, and shines a light on Christmas in the best of ways, by looking at Jesus. A lot of the words used in this poem are also very soft and loving, which further evokes a really nice warm feeling when reading this poem. I think this is a really good poem from Jessica, so thank you for the entry!

Benjamin Ede’s Are You Coming Home

Are You Coming Home

Are coming home for christmas?
We now tire from keeping steps of your shadow,
Hope some playing children trip on the box of silence
You hid by road for long now.

Are coming home for christmas?
All that’s left to remind of you:
The ruffles from heaps of dry leaves
Under the cherry tree drifts like loneliness;
Where you often sit and gaze the fading twilight,
While you twist some chords of hope on mama.

If you are coming home for christmas,
Please get me some white woolish robe,
The magic rope,
A flying box,
Some soothing salt
That’s stolen your heart all these years.

Hope you are coming home for christmas?
Mama’s eyes now wear from watching the road
Blisters on her lips, count cuts of mistaken calls of your name.
Mama told me, men are impatient. Papa couldn’t wait any more.
She also said you looked just like me-
The shadow waking in the dawns of my eyes each time she stares inside,
And fears losing me too to the road, retracing your steps.
Hope you are coming home for christmas?

Our Team’s Feedback

LJ - 2nd Choice
I love the sense of mystery here. It is a beautifully written poem with great use of rhetoric throughout. However, and perhaps I am a bit of a dunce, but I can’t get to the route on who they are waiting for to return home. Is it a brother who has “fled the nest”? I really enjoyed this poem and some of the imagery really captured the idea of missing somebody. Great work.
Emma - 2nd Choice
This poem made it onto my list because of the transition from traditional, sentimental images, to the darker at the end. The weariness of the mother character, and the histories this short detail implied, caught my interest. Additionally, rather than presenting a perfect, sentimentally peaceful image of the season, the speaker in this text brought in images of loss, the dark, and suffering. The refrain, “Hope you are coming home for Christmas?” is cliche at first, but by the end becomes much more poignant as the separation the speaker is referring to is greater than it seemed at first.

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