Wayne Holloway-Smith wins the National Poetry Competition for ‘The posh mums are boxing in the square’

1 April 2019

The winner of the 2018 National Poetry Competition has been announced as Wayne Holloway-Smith, lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire, with his poem ‘The posh mums are boxing in the square’.

The poem was chosen by judges Kim Moore, Kei Miller and Mark Waldron out of a bumper crop of over 14,000 poems.

Holloway-Smith’s poem, which has earned him a 1st prize of £5000, is told with a tender and wrenching humour, using the titular fight as a staging ground to remould reality and right past wrongs.

It seems unfair at times that poetry, one of the chief articulators of our deepest sentiments, should be required in the same breath to avoid sentimentality. But when you see it done, as it is done so well in ‘The posh mums are boxing in the square’ it takes your breath away – a mother reimagined into life, risen from her bed and given boxing gloves to fight off a terrible illness. The title and the set up are so wonderfully absurd, we are led smiling into a poem that hits us in our own gut with its devastating gravitas.

Kei Miller
Judge, National Poetry Competition

You can read the winning poem, as well as Katie Griffiths’s 2nd prize poem ‘Do not indulge indigo’, Mark Fiddes’s 3rd prize poem ‘Polite Safety Notice’, and the 7 commended poems, at the National Poetry Competition page. Congratulations to all the winning and commended poets!


Press Office news@herts.ac.uk +44 (0)1707 285 770