Poetry Pamphlet Prize

The winner of this year’s pamphlet prize:

WinnerMan Overboard   Rosalind Easton

Second placeHow it Will Happen   Lisa Blackwell

Third placeHarvest   Sue Norton


Judge’s Report: Paper Swans Pamphlet Competition 2022

I was honoured to be invited to judge this year’s pamphlet competition. At first, I thought it would be really difficult not only because of the sheer numbers but also the incredibly high standard of almost every entry. It was clear that here were poets who to a man or woman clearly knew what they were doing. I can honestly say there was not one single duff entry to make my task easier! Mostly I wasn’t aware of the identity of the poet but occasionally I recognised a poem or two which I had read before in a magazine. I promise this did not sway me one bit.

I have judged competitions before but only for single poems. This was more complicated, obviously. There were pamphlets which contained some of the loveliest individual poems but which, in the end, did not really come up with the goods. I was not specifically looking for themed collections but have to admit that many of the impressive long and shortlisted collections were arranged around a theme – a love affair, a bereavement, an experience of serious illness or trauma, for example. The pamphlet format seems to lend itself particularly well to the exploration of a single theme. That said, I also shortlisted pamphlets which were just damn good, even if the poems were apparently not united by a common thread.

As for my method, it was the usual one of placing the entries as they came in into Yes, No or Maybe. The No folder stayed very thin indeed. The Maybe folder was dipped into a number of times and several collections rescued and promoted to Yes. I ended up with 25 in my Yes folder and it really hurt to have to decide which pamphlets didn’t quite make it to the longlist. If yours didn’t appear on the list it is more than likely that I read it over and over and only reluctantly decided it wasn’t among the top twenty. If it helps, my own themed pamphlet was longlisted but not shortlisted three years ago. It was then shortlisted in two other competitions before I finally decided to just look for a publisher. It was taken immediately and sold very well.  Don’t ever despair about your writing. If in doubt, show it someone. I showed mine to Andrew MacMillan and he was really helpful and directed me towards the press which then published it. Often the smallest tweak can make all the difference. In a competition you don’t have an editor to help you knock your work into shape. You’re on your own.

When I told Sarah that there were five real contenders for the one prize, she kindly suggested having a second and third as well. Even that was hard! Harvest, my third prize, was clearly the work of a gifted poet who I am sure we will see more of. I loved so many of these strong, beautifully crafted poems. How it will happen impressed me from the word go with its confident voice and sense of purpose. I felt I was in the hands of someone who really knew what they were doing and was moved.

The first prize-winner, Man Overboard, was a clear winner from the first reading. I read it in bed one morning and wept. From the very first poem, this is a collection which grabs the reader and won’t let go. I think because it was written quickly during lockdown, under huge emotional pressure, that creative energy finds its way into the writing. It is an extraordinary collection from an exciting poet.

I can honestly say it was a privilege to read everyone’s work and a huge pleasure to be able to award the prize to Rosalind Easton. Congratulations, Rosalind and I can’t wait to hold your lovely pamphlet in my hand.

Thank you, everyone who entered and also huge thanks to Sarah for her support and help.


Carole Bromley June, 2022


Longlist for the 2022 Pamphlet Prize:

In alphabetical order…

Adulthood — Michael Brown

Animal — Marie-Louise Eyres

Coastal Origami — Helen Scadding

Encounter — Lesley Sharpe

Glimpses from a Train — Will Kemp

Harvest — Sue Norton

How it Will Happen — Lisa Blackwell

How to Push Two Wheelchairs — Trish Kerrison

Man Overboard — Rosalind Easton

Mole — Rachel Davies

Seeking the Scent — Peter Donnelly

Self-portrait as Pieces of a Saint — Rachel Carney

The Heart’s Car Park — Charles Penty

The Sessions — Jonathan Totman

The Omniscient Tooth Fairy — Vic Pickup

There’s No Such Things as Lemons — Joshua Seigal

Untold — Katherine Goda

White Coat Syndrome — Penny Shutt

White Tulips — Mary Mulholland

Wintering — David Calcutt



Carole Bromley was born in 1948 in Middlesbrough, UK

Her poems have been widely published in magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry News, The North, Magma, Mslexia, The Rialto, Strix, Coast to Coast to Coast and Butcher’s Dog and she has twice been a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition. She has two pamphlets, Unscheduled Halt(2004) and Skylight (2009) and three collections, A Guided Tour of the Ice House (2011), The Stonegate Devil (October, 2015) and Blast Off (for 7-10 year olds) with Smith/Doorstop Books, Sheffield.

Her next collection, The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster, will be published in 2020 by Valley Press and a new pamphlet of poems about her recent experience of brain surgery, Sodium 136, by Calder Valley Poetry.

Individual poems have won a number of first prizes, including the Bridport, the Yorkshire Open, Torbay, Poetry Space and the Bronte Society Literary Prize. In 2019 she was awarded the Hamish Canham Prize by the Poetry Society. She has been placed in the following competitions: Hippocrates, Keats Shelley, Torriano, Manchester Cathedral, Elmet, Ilkley, Barnet, Northampton, Mslexia, Big Issue in the North, Grey Hen, Poetry on the Lake, Plough, Housman Society, Whiteadder Press, Staple, BT Stay in Touch, Guardian Text Message Poems, Ware, New Forest, Lancaster Litfest, Arvon, Thomas Hardy Society, Manchester Writing for Children Award, Interpreter’s House, Caterpillar competition for children’s poetry,

Carole was an Arvon/Jerwood mentee in 2010. She has performed at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and run workshops at Aldeburgh and at the Bridlington and York Poetry Festivals. In 2020 she will perform her children’s poems at the Imagine Festival at the Royal Festival Hall.

Judge of a number of poetry competitions including in 2019 the YorkMix Poems for Children Prize and the Candlestick Press Competition for poems about snow. Carole edited their title, Ten Poems about Snow (Sept 2019)

She has degrees from the Universities of Reading, London and York and an MPhil in Writing from Glamorgan. For many years an English teacher in her home town of York, she taught Creative Writing at York University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning for fifteen years.

Carole is also the Poetry Society’s stanza rep for York and a large group of poets from a wide area meet at her home every month to share their work. She is an Arvon tutor, runs poetry surgeries for The Poetry Society and is a mentor with The Poetry School. She is available for readings and workshops in schools and at festivals.

She is married with four children and thirteen grandchildren and has lived in York for forty years.

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