2015 Winners

We're delighted to announce the winners of The Great British Write Off 2015! Our judges, Mark Grist, Ana McLaughlin and Anastasia Prempeh have marked the 20 shortlisted pieces on its creativity, originality, content, rhythm/meter/structure as well as the overall impression it made on them.

Each judge scored the work separately and back at the office we added up each judge's score for each piece; the highest scoring piece from each country has won the poet a fantastic prize bundle! From the 4 winning poets, the poet with the highest score overall from the judges also wins the £715.50 prize fund (each time an entry was received for The Great British Write Off 50p was added to the prize fund)!

The Great British Write Off Overall Winner of a prize bundle and the prize fund is ... Brian Bilston from Oxford, whose poem 'At The Intersection' received high scores from all 3 judges. Brian represented England in The Great British Write Off 2015. His poem is published in 'The Great British Write Off - Across England'. Congratulations Brian!

"Simple and executed cleverly with real discipline. Something moving about the two conflicting viewpoints and central thesis underlined by the two halves effectively," said Ana McLaughlin.

"Fun and interesting! Keeps you open to, and looking for, different interpretations,"said Anastasia Prempeh.

"A touch of genius to this one. Stopped me in my tracks!"said Mark Grist.

Editorial Manager, Jenni Bannister, also commented: "The original and creative structure of this poem was immediately striking, and the conflicting viewpoints of the relationship packs an emotional punch. Excellent use of structure to display the narrative of the poem."

Here are Brian Bilston's winning words...

At The Intersection

Brian Bilston - At The Intersection

Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery but has become a regular contributor of poetry on social media over the last few years. Writing on topics such as diverse as love, death, buses and mobile phones, his work often experiments with literary form and frequently assumes unlikely shapes, reflecting the poetry which he uncovers in everyday places: excel spreadsheets, Venn diagrams, powerpoint presentations, Scrabble tiles.

"Winning The Great British Write Off 2015 competition is both a thrill and an honour. I've been writing poetry in "non-traditional" forms and shapes for some time in order to get across ideas in new ways, and I'm absolutely delighted by how it was received by the judges."

© Brian Bilston, 2015
Published in 'The Great British Write Off - Across England'

Brian Bilston

Congratulations to our Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland winners too: Miriam Nemmaoui from Wrexham (Wales), Jen McGregor from Edinburgh (Scotland) and Kieran McGurk from Omagh (Northern Ireland).

A huge thank you to everyone who entered The Great British Write Off 2015 and to our fantastic judges, Mark Grist, Ana McLaughlin and Anastasia Prempeh. Congratulations once again to our winners! We're looking forward to next year's competition already!

Wales Winner

Driving Home

As you drove me home at night the lights rolled up the windscreen like film credits; our names, our night, written in the stars and street lamps.

Although I'm prone to glamorise - we're just in your Corsa on the high street - when I blink I swear I can see galaxies, stretching out darkly above us.

I tilt my head back into the seat. You turn the music up 'til it fills the remaining cavity of the car, the only space unfilled by our swollen hearts.

Every time the song ends you restart, 'til it's a continuum of sprawling sound, skimming the ground beneath us; a limitless stream, a liquid rope tying everything together.

Everything, everything was summed up in the rhythmic wheels, the soft brown half-darkness of the urban night, and in the flashes of symmetry between you and I.

© Miriam Nemmaoui, 2015
Published in 'The Great British Write Off - The UK'

"It reminds you of the beauty found in small things and how love can make the ordinary feel extraordinary. A love story without a cliché." Anastasia Prempeh.

"Love the film credits image - created a vivid picture of exhilarating beginning of a young love affair." Ana McLaughlin.

"This is simply just brilliant!" Mark Grist.

Miriam Nemmaoui is a first year undergraduate reading English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. She has been writing poetry for around six years, mainly focusing upon themes such as love, growing up, race, and mundane life. Miriam often draws inspiration from chance encounters, conversations with strangers on trains, and customers she serves on the tills at Asda. As well as writing poetry, she contributes to the Oxford student newspaper, The Cherwell, and writes a weekly blog.

"I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen as the Wales winner for The Great British Write Off. Seeing my poem alongside the imaginative and moving pieces by Brian, Jen, and Kieran is so exciting! Poetry has always been a secret pastime for me, scribbled in notebooks at 3am for my own consumption. The judges' lovely comments both vindicate my tired eyes at 9am lectures, and drive me to go on reading, writing, and sharing poetry."

Miriam Nemmaoui

Scotland Winner

One Character In Search Of An Exit

You're not a character in a novel.
(I wish you were.
If you were I'd shut the book
And give it to a charity shop.)

Thinking about it, though, perhaps you are.
How would I know?
Perhaps I'm just unfortunate
Enough to share a page with you

In some teenager's overwritten opus.
I'd hate that -
To think the brain that thought me up
Could also spawn someone like you

And that we might be stuck together
On this page
Where I'm trapped listening to your
Recital of recycled wit and wisdom.

© Jen McGregor, 2015
Published in 'The Great British Write Off - The UK'

"Simple language used effectively to express and interesting idea." Ana McLaughlin.

"Well thought out and very creative. A poem that allows you to approach and interpret it in a multitude of ways." Anastasia Prempeh.

"Raw and powerful- a piece that wails." Mark Grist.

Northern Ireland Winner


Would a decadent kiss
On a jittery track
Be somewhat amiss
In a tunnel so black?

Skating along
Serpentine twists
Passengers nod
Evensong tripped.

Boy on the bay
Spreadeagles the view
Greystones to Bray
In a moment or two.

A juddering halt
To a hedonist tryst
Nobody's fault
But too great a risk

As our lips part
My lover and me
My thoughts are the rails
My eyes are the sea.

© Kieran McGurk, 2015
Published in 'The Great British Write Off - The UK'

"A beautifully structured and well written piece with an especially powerful ending." Anastasia Prempeh.

"I loved the clattering rhythm of this poem and thought the use of language was fresh and inventive. It looked simple and felt stripped down, but remained hugely effective. I felt it conjured first a sense of claustrophobia - with the dark tunnel - and then the sense of a wide, watery horizon with the third verse. I thought the image of the rails in the last verse was especially unexpected and thought provoking." Ana McLaughlin.

"Love it. The rhythms, the words and the feeling behind it." Mark Grist.

Kieran McGurk began writing poetry in July 2014, initially as a means of expression, but it soon became a bit of a passion. He has been published in two Forward Poetry anthologies and has been awarded ‘Poet of the Month’ twice on the Forward Poetry site – having also had two ‘Top Five’ poems on there as well. Working full-time as a gardener and living in rural Tyrone, Kieran loves the process of composing poetry and the release of tapping into creative reserves.

"It's a great thrill for me to be judged as best in region for my poem. I have no doubt that as a result of posting my poems and reading other poets on Forward Poetry, I have received the support and feedback that has kept me going and injected confidence into my writing. It's such a privilege to appear alongside the other regional champions, Miriam and Jen, and Brian's overall winner is superb."

Kieran McGurk