2017-18 Poetry and Art Competition Winners

This year our poetry and art competition has been bigger than ever!  We are absolutely delighted to have received over 7,000 entries from all over the world.  Our judges had an extremely difficult task but the winning work has now been selected and we are delighted to present it here.

We have also run two themed bonus categories of the competition.  You can find the winning entries from the 'War in the Skies' themed category marking RAF100, here, and the winning entries from The Royal British Legion 2017 'Thank You' category can be found here.

The winning work will also feature in our 2017-18 Winners' Booklet when this is published.  You can find previous years' Winners' Booklets here.


First Place Winners

School Years 5-6  /  Ages 9-11

Air Raid
by Konstantinos Kostopoulos from the 13th Primary School of Kalamaria, Greece

A56-600 Air Raid .jpg

The Poppy
by Marat Bilalov

I waited many years in vain
For blood to water my roots with pain                  

The heavy steps and drops of blood
Had churned the soil from grass to mud

I heard it all from underground
My hiding place had lain unfound

Until the jolt of grief and death
Innocent men, their final breath

When guns fell silent and cries had ceased
All was quiet, my fields at peace

Barren lands and trenches deep
A resting place for those who sleep

Soul and seed as one we grew
A little seedling, pushing through

I was the first to stand up tall
To weep in pain for those who fall

My comrades followed soon behind
To give a reason to remind

Petals stained a bloody red
The tears that many mothers shed

Leaves so full of hopes and dreams
A field of crops that thrives and gleams

A poisoned stud so small and black
Our loved ones never welcomed back

We are forever in their debt
A field of souls lest we forget

 

School Years 7-9  /  Ages 11-14

Behind each man
by Morrigan Atherton Forshaw from Albany Academy

Behind Each Man.jpg

The Indian Soldier*
by Jasleen Singh from Bristol Grammar School

Home is where the heart is
I heard a British Soldier say that here
If that is true my love
My home is a long, long way from here

My heart is under the mango tree
Where its sweet blossoms smile almost as wide as me
Instead shells are pouring like the rains in the monsoon
Only we don’t know for certain that these will ever stop

My heart is wondering somewhere far away from this God forsaken land
Where night is never silent and stars are never seen
Our richly spiced food is traded for a cold hard bread
It impales my teeth like the bullets struck in the walls back home

My heart longs to fly away from here and join the flock of migrating birds
They are escaping the smoke that plumes like wispy ghosts
For a brighter land with silks of red, yellow and orange
And a sun that beams just as vividly

My heart longs for freedom, freedom and peace
I have a wish that my children can live in a world with more justice than me
I do this for a promise, my love
A promise to own the soil beneath our feet

My heart belongs to the corn fields
And a warm breeze running free
Instead the corpses cover the fields
Like sheaves of harvested corn

My heart belongs to the children, hold them tight my dear
Tell them whatever happens, Papa will always be near
Tell them funny stories, make them laugh from ear to ear
I shall be able to hear their laughter, even from a place as far as here

Our hearts long to sing
Instead they are silenced
Hidden amongst the millions of white crosses surrounding our graves
Why?

We too gave our all when it came to the cry of the fight

 

* This poem is to commemorate all the 1.3 million Indian Soldiers who came to an unknown country to fight for the British during World War 1.

 

School Years 10-11  /  Ages 14-16

Eyes Wide Shut but Mind Wide Open
by Vasko Stamboliev from Arsakeio Senior High School of Thessaloniki, Greece

Eyes Wide Shut but Mind Wide Open (or The Eyes Cannot See Anymore But The Mind Can...).JPG

Me Brother Dan
by Molly Meleady-Hanley

(Written in the Sheffield Dialect)

“Me Brother Dan”
Me brother Dan went off to war, marching down Duke Street with his Pals.
Heads held high, while the Sheffield crowd clapped and cheered them so!
Me Mam wept and me Dad said:-
“ Gi’ore Molly. Be proud. Be happy for our lad. He’s serving his King and Country in a just war”.

 Six Weeks later, we got a fancy Can Can card from our Dan
Reet chuffed we were. Dad read it out , puffed up chest, loud and clear.
Dad said, Dan was doing well and our Dan wished us all good cheer.

 Tucking card in’t pocket, he went off down road to get hisen a beer.
Ten weeks later, on Skye Edge Fields, a neighbour came calling us from play.
Saying :- “ Come quick Lizzie, yer Mam needs yer- reet away”
Opening our door, on Talbot Row, we heard Banshee screaming
Our Mam, paper crumpled on’t floor, sobbing and rocking, hands to heaven.
“Why did he have to die? Me son, me son, me only son!” she cried.
Dan’s body never came home.

 He lies without us, in some distant land.
In a place me Mam will never be able to go.
And so she trudges every day to Norfolk Row.
Saying prayers and lighting holy candles for our Dan and other mother’s sons.
These other boys whose lives too, will never grow.

 And me, well…I keep asking mesen
“ Why do they kill caterpillars and then complain that there are no butterflies?”
Me Dad said:- “ Listen up our Lizzie. Them there caterpillars and butterflies have
died to keep us all safe and free
You’ll learn that one day me love, when you’re wise from being worn with care.
Until then me Liz, be proud and thankful for the sacrifice our Dan and is Pals made for thee.


Second Place Winners

School Years 5-6  /  Ages 9-11

Lest We Forget
by Sonja Csik from Saint Michael Catholic Academy, Canada

A56-908 Untitled.jpg

For a Horse
by Matthew Heaney from Lough View Integrated Primary School

Four fast hooves clip, clip, clopping
Fine high head nodding, bobbing
Smartly stepping, forward going
Wind wafting, soft mane flowing

Long legs lithely trot, trot, trotting
Following orders, slowly stopping
Heavy sack slinging, broad back breaking
Once more starting, muscles aching

Frightened heart thud, thud, thudding
Big brown eyes stinging, streaming
Terrible noises, screaming, moaning
Poisoned air gasping, groaning

Sinews burning, throb, throb, throbbing
Deep in mud, struggling, straining
Smells so dreadful, shocking, stinking
Breathing harshly, downward sinking

Strong neck tensing, pull, pull, pulling
Not giving up, snorting, striving
Journey completed, panting wheezing
Heavy load lifted pain now easing

Heroic war horse – worth remembering!

 

 

 
 

School Years 7-9  /  Ages 11-14

 

The Torch
by Ziteng Cai from Alliance Art Academy, Canada

The Torch

Left Behind
by Molly Leamon from St. Edward’s Royal Free Ecumenical Middle School

Grey-haired, lonely, lost in thought
Silent, rocking back and forth
Knitting socks he’d never wear
So young he died, no life to spare

No photographs above the flames
Just memories of sunlit days
They were so young they had not guessed
What horrors soon would break the jest
Of glory, pride and honoured deaths
Not frozen toes and rasping breaths

Grey-hair, rocking in her chair
Knitting socks he’d never wear

 

Years 10-11  /  Ages 14-16

 

Win Some Lose Some
by Vivian Huang, from Cheltenham Ladies' College

Win Some Lose Some

Deliverer and Receiver
by Nancy Criddle

Deliverer:
He’s the one, who will deliver the news,
The fateful letter held tight in his hand,
Only he knows what she’s about to lose,
He is so sorry, he understands.

The knocks on the door that summon the widow,
Are echoes of the fallen, the dead and the fighting.
She is not prepared, she does not know,
The sadness traced into this writing.

Receiver:
Is this the day she has waited for?
The day she’ll lose what she loves most?
She’s anticipated that knock on the door,
When she finds out he’s now a ghost.

The man is sorry, he understands,
He hardly speaks but hands a letter,
Her husband does no longer stand.
Grief never heals, no it never gets better.

 


Third Place Winners

Years 5-6  /  Ages 9-11

In Flanders Fields
by Kacper Machnik from Leighton Academy

In Flanders Fields.

Ready
by Ryan Reed from Walkergate Community School

They thought they were ready for anything.
Deranged trees dancing in the midnight breeze.
Squishy, clumping mud traps innocent feet.
The cloudy water glistens in the light.
Water, like glass, reflecting destruction.
Rusting barbed wire stands far from old ladders.
An angry shell whistles as it flies past.
The orange metal is smashed and flung.
A furious wind growls in the night.
Decomposing stretchers lie in the trench.
Rows of dead trees stand silently like lamp-posts.
Beyond the night sky, the men turn their backs.
They thought they were ready for anything.

 

Years 7-9  /  Ages 11-14

 

La vie derrière les mots / Life behind words
by Lou Gesse from College du val d'Ornois, France

La vie derriere les mots (Life behind words)

Stones
by Lucy Albuery from the Portsmouth Grammar School

You’ll say you’ll remember,
And I’ll trust you that you'll try,
As you stand in Cathedrals,
Wearing pathetic, paper flowers.
You’ll remember a few numbers,
Maybe a few names
Or just those graves you once saw on a school trip.
But for all you do to not let us fade away You can’t bring yourself to apprehend, that We’re already gone.

Never another noise will shake us,
Yet through the silence, blares
Rows and rows of what we became:
White rectangles, tattooed
With some numbers and a name.
A name that you claim to enshrine,
And numbers you pretend to have meaning to you.
But they’re not what matters.
Because all that did has withered,
Into the cold soil we sleep.

You don't know who I was,
So how do you insist you remember
What you never knew?
I am love
I am fear
I am all that I’ve lost
And all the scars that defined me,
All I gave
and all I took.
I am hope
I am loss
All the tears that escaped.
I am what I showed the world
And all I hid from it, too.
All I am you will never know
By a name and some dates.

You don’t remember me.
You remember a stone.

Years 10-11  /  Ages 14-16

 

I Miss You
by Vailisa Frolova from Art School of Olga Nazarkina, Canada

I Miss You

The Poppy
by Becki Pinkerton from The Royal School Armagh, N. Ireland - Combined Cadet Force

Under the ground of the battlefield I grow,
I symbolise the memory of fallen heroes from long ago
I am an emblem for all to show
Their respect to so many whom they did not know.
I am a common field poppy – Papaver rhoeas
An elegant wildflower, distinctive and red
I’m the only one to grow in barren battlefields
I’m a comforting blanket, for our heroes alas dead.
In 1918 Monia Michael created me in silk
That I could be an emblem to last and not wilt
And in the UK on 11th November 1921
I became the flower on which Remembrance Day was built.
That was such a long time ago
Yet each year I am out there on show
Representing men, women and animals
Who gave their lives for the peace we now know.
So perhaps this year on Remembrance Sunday
You could give me a little place
On the Jacket, or jumper you’re wearing
I won’t take up very much space
Would you wear me with pride as you remember?
Yes I’m the red leaf, black centre and green stem
I represent the sacrifice of ordinary people
Caught up in wars not created by them.
I have no religious conviction
I just happened to grow where many fell
So will you help me to say ‘We will remember them’
And their stories to our children tell.


Runners Up

Years 5-6  /  Ages 9-11

 

Untitled
by Kedaton Campbell from California, United States of America

Untitled

Thank You
by Anastasia Basta from the 3rd Primary School of Eleftherio-Kordelio, Greece

To those who fought with allies
To those who felt alone
To those who lost their lives
To those who came back home
To those who suffered for freedom
To those of early youth
To those who left a widow
To those who nursed the dreadful wounds
To those iron birds, high in the sky
To those working hands that stayed behind
To all those souls, full of valour
A great “THANK YOU”
in poppy’s pure red colour.

 

 

 

The Face of War
by Anna Potocnik Hahonina

The Face of War

Death Will Find You
by Holly Brady from the City of London School for Girls

Oh Death,
Please do not claim me
Into your abyss of perpetual darkness
Where souls forever wander, alone
Not knowing that the world
Goes on without them.
I know that I am at your doorstep
With every step towards the battlefield.
Every step that could be my last.

You are not welcome here, oh Death,
Though you take us; unwilling as we are.
Fighting valiantly for our country,
But every bullet is your hand,
Reaching out to take us,
And you delight as our eyes go glassy,
As our life blood drains away into the soil,
Where many have fallen,
And will fall in the war torn days and years to come.

I do not want you, oh Death,
Let me live, for my country.
But all is the same to you-
British or German, Russian or Austro-Hungarian.
Whether I was their target or on their side,
I pray for those who have succumbed to your clutches.
Lucky though I have been,
I know now that when I open my eyes,
I will find you.

 

Years 7-9  /  Ages 11-14

 

Miners
by Sam Davidson from Hampton School

Miners

Am I Not
by Jasmine Surif from Marlborough College Malaysia

I am a woman, and I wish to serve
What difference does it make
If I am not a boy, a man, nor a husband?
“No,” they advise me,
“You must not fight!
It’s too risky for you,
Stay a housewife.”

Why is that so? Why should that be?
Am I weak? Am I fragile?
Am I not what my country needs?
Should women forge weapons, yet stay away
While men handle them, and succumb to the pain?

I am a woman, and I wish to serve
If a human has the right to live
The right to protect
The right to fight
So should I.
Because I’m human too,
Am I not?

Yet here I am
Oppressed, behind the frigid window bars
Watching, with a heavy heart,
As the footsteps of my beloved
On the dried, rusty leaves
Slowly fades away
As the foul balls of toxic rise into the air
As one by one, men of all nations lie lifeless
On the once-green grass
As I bear the harrowing reality
That my loved ones are no more

Shattered and broken, I ponder once more
What difference I could have made.
Instead of remaining and crafting the guns,
I’d have battled for justice, jubilant that we’ve won.

But here I am, alive.
Basking in the light of victory
Drowning in tears of misery
Because I am a woman.
Am I not?

 

Home, Sweet Home
by Breanna Hogue from Art School of Olga Nazarkina, Canada

Home, Sweet Home

We Shot the Dreamers
by Lili Fairclough from Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy

We ask why we don’t move forward
Why our future is stuck in the past
Why every war we wage
Is somehow never the last

The ones who can tell us
Are the ones who are gone
Their lights were extinguished
In battles like the Somme

How to fix our shattered world
Scarred.  Everywhere.
With wounds that will not heal
And people unaware

For they know not what is missing
For they know not who has been killed
For they know not the many faces
Whose last sights were those fateful fields

We will not find salvation
Till we look back to the past
To the Dreamers that we shot
In the war that was our ‘last’

 

Years 10-11  /  Ages 14-16

 

Of Family, Of Nation, Of Home
by Yan Xing Lee from Selangor, Malaysia

Of family, of nation, of Home

The Great War – The Great Theatre
by Julian Ting, from Garden International School, Malaysia

Truth.
That is a…
Podium for you to celebrate.  Just think of it.
There is no
Better way to serve your country.
There is a
Sense of gratification
Sense of reward
Sense of remembrance
As there is no
Fear.
The last moment of war just
Full of triumph and courage.
There is no moment
Of grief from your family.
The product of war is only
Your family’s love, yet,
What must be cherished:
Peace after war and,
Who can deny it?

(Now read from bottom to top)

 

Prisoner of War
by Mina Soso

Prisoner of War

Realm of No Man’s Land
by Lucy Ozich from Cashmere High School, New Zealand

Come, grace me with a muddied foot and a muddied face.
Push off and forwards with dampened breath and stagnant water thin.
Take a risk with rotten white and open needy palms.
And join me lying, deep in dust.  Enter no man’s land.

Be at peace with what you’ve done, and what you may soon do.
Put your faith in one man’s soul, raise that torn flag up and out.
It’s a crime of war to gun you down, but who would ever know?
People change, for good or bad, here in no man’s land.

It’s in God’s grace that you are here, you have a part to play.
Take in a breath, sharp and cold, piercing, ragged, thin.
Wait a moment, the choice is yours.  To stand or turn and run,
You can’t help it, no one can, the thoughts of no man’s land.

It may matter much, the choice you make, once your hand is raised
So allow yourself to fall away, and raise that hand up high.
You are a cost in an endless story, your moment has just passed.
Did you do what must be done, in the realm of no man’s land?

Come, grace me with a muddied foot and a muddied face.
Push off and forwards with dampened breath and stagnant water thin.