East Coker Poetry Competition 2017

This year we are having a joint competition with the West Coker Camera Club who will also be judging our poetry – and we will be judging their photographs.

The subject is  Internal Spaces – Interiors – The Inside

This is a wide subject which could also be challenging from a poetic and photographic view.  It could perhaps encompass rooms, boxes, drawers, buildings – the choice is entirely yours.

The rules for the poetry competition are few:-

One poem per entrant

Entrants must have attended a meeting of the East Coker Poetry Group

The deadline for entries is 1st October 2017

Poems to be sent to the East Coker Poetry Group

There will be a joint evening meeting on the last Tuesday in October 2017 at the Apple Loft of the Helyar Arms in East Coker, at which we hope to show all the shortlisted photographs accompanied by a short description of the picture from the photographer who took it - and for all the poets to read their entry to the competition.  It should be a good evening..............


There will be prizes of course but the aim of our joint competition is to encourage the writing of poetry and the art of photography! 


East Coker Poetry Competition 2016

Everyone eats food.  But could you write 'A Recipe in Poetic Form'?   Following a vote at our May meeting, this was the challenge for our 2016 competition. 

The recipe could be for any sort of food – a soup, a main course, a pudding, a cake, etc.  The choice was open to the poet - but there had to be enough information in the poem so that the recipe could actually be made - all ingredients, cooking times and temperatures if applicable.

As the entries came in it was apparent that many entries interpreted the remit in very different ways and would not 'qualify' for the competition as envisaged.  It was therefore decided to award a secondary prize category for those poems submitted on the theme of 'A recipe in poetic form' but not able to fit the main category.  The Judges also had the difficult task of selecting which category the poem would match.  Our thanks go to our 2016 judges, Sonia and Crispian Cartwright.

A Recipe in Poetic Form   -  Main category for a recipe that could actually be made and eaten:-


1st Prize   Juliet Lacey with 'Scappi's Tortoise Pie'

2nd Prize   Iona Lambe with 'Christmas Cake'

3rd            Jane Williams with 'Supper Dish'

4th            Brian Patman with 'A Recipe in Rhymes and Riddles'

A Recpie in Poetic Form - Secondary Category for a recipe that did not fall in the main category above


1st Prize    David Cloke with 'Pilchards and Plums'

2nd Prize   Maya Pieris with 'Whisky Sours'

3rd            Janet Lailey with 'A Recipe for Midsummer Potatoes'

4th            Margaret Hamilton with 'Recipe in a Poem' 


The Winning poem in the Main Category:-

Scappi’s Tortoise Pie

based on a 16th century recipe

(from The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Atlee)

What you will need, Signora, is a deep dish

and a good steel knife, the sharpest in Sicily.


You must search the harbour for cinnamon, saffron,

nutmeg and cloves fresh from the hold of a galleon.


You must bring ten sour oranges from your ripest grove

and press out their juice with its scent of hot gold.


Onions and mint must be chopped till they ring in the nose:

then softened in foaming white goat butter.


Now choose your tortoise.

Signora, do not be tempted by sea-turtle.

Tortoise is a thousand times more succulent.

It is the finest meat on earth.


Here is what you must do with your tortoise.

Cut off his head and put him aside

till his body is dead. Be patient, I say.

It might take a day for his body to die.

Now take off his shell and his skin, clean him well.

Go slow, do not rush. Make sure there’s no bile,

that the meat is lustrous and sweet.


Lay him out in the dish and anoint him with spices

crushed to a paste, as thick as you wish.

No need for haste. Sprinkle sugar and salt

with onions and mint to crown him.

Pour in the juice to drown him.

Cover with pastry and put him to cook

as slow as you please until toothsome and tender.


This is slow food, signora.

Slow to prepare.

Slow to digest.

Slow to reach the heart.

This is the slowest food on earth.


by Juliet Lacey


Second Prize in the main category:-

Christmas Cake

The mixture of dried fruit and peel gleams,

Stirred well with a long wooden spoon,

Their many colours plumped and shining,

Soaking up a generous glass of whiskey.


Next the flour is weighed and spices added;

Cinnamon, a gift of old for kings and Gods,

Its golden richness guarded by winged serpents,

Bringing now the mystic fragrance of Sri Lanka.


Nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, each with

Exotic tastes and heats from far-off lands,

And bloodied histories of wars and voyages,

--- And all now held in little lined-up jars.


Eggs and sugar are beaten well with treacle,

And lemon zest to zing alive the taste.

Cherries, almonds, dates and apricots are added

To the mix, a celebration in a bowl.


A large cake tin is lined and wrapped (brown paper, string),

The oven heated and the shelves arranged,

The mixture gently settled, evened, smoothed,

Then in, and timed, and turned, and covered,--- cooked!


The windows are open wide but the whole house

Smells of Christmas cake and happiness.



by Iona Lambe