Competitions and Awards

Is poetry something that should be judged? Perhaps not but being named in competitions can help your work reach a wider audience. It can also be argued that, when judged anonymously, competitions are more democratic than some traditional routes.

Wins have included first prize in The Speakeasy Open 2012, second prize in the Ilkley Literature Festival Open Mic 2011, and joint runner up in the Wirral Open Poetry Competition 2019.

Becky’s poems have been shortlisted for the Grist Poetry Prize, the Yorkshire Open and the Leeds Peace Poetry Prize, her short story ‘Close Pursuit’ being shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. Poems have been highly commended for the Forward Prize 2017 and Yaffle Prize 2019. She had a novel longlisted for The Beverly Prize and poetry longlisted twice for the Mslexia Poetry Competition and once for the National Poetry Competition. 

Judges of the above competitions include Simon Armitage, Douglas Dunn, Antony Dunn, Ian Duhig, Carol Ann Duffy, Pat Borthwick and Anna Saunders.

Sample Poem

Jesus Lives

Jesus has treacly eyes and lives in my granny’s spare room.
When we come to visit, this is where we sleep.
There’s panelling on the walls, a tottering wardrobe
and a mahogany bed, corrugated at the foot. It’s huge.
Put it this way, the BFG has nothing on this bed.

My sister says Jesus’s eyes are evil. 
I say he’s sad because we don’t believe in him
but jump just as high at the stair’s sudden crack.

It’s Granny, juggling lumpy hot water bottles;
she leans on feather pillows, offers talcum-kissed cheeks.
Then, the chime of a ghost bell! 
Granny’s dead school mistress ringing for her
as she returns downstairs for ginger beer.

We go back to considering Jesus
who thinks he’s being helpful by watching over us
at night. Our limbs petrify.

Still, when sleep steals her, I seek out
the answers in those treacly eyes.

 ‘Jesus Lives’, first published in Empires of Clay, was highly commended for The Forward Prize 2017. Olivia Jessuk contacted me to ask me about the poem and responded with these beautiful drawings.  


Olivia Jessuk is a 19 year-old English Literature student from Leeds. She is currently co-writing a creative writing magazine with her course-mates comprising of her own poetry, set for publication this summer –
https://twitter.com/4nineteenzine
Find her on instagram.com/oliviajessuk/