‘Science Around Us’ Micropoetry Competition 2023 winners unveiled

Poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay OBE

A panel of judges including former University Chancellor and poet Lemn Sissay, Creative Manchester Director and Professor of Poetry John McAuliffe and Manchester-based poet and critic Maryam Hessavi, gathered to judge this year’s Micropoetry Competition entries. 

The panel took a shortlist of the most intriguing of this year’s entries and selected the very best based on their professional judgement and instincts.

This year’s poetry competition took place from 21 March 2023 to 21 June 2023. Entrants were asked to respond to the theme of ‘Science Around Us’ in no more than 280 characters.

The winning poem was submitted by Roy on Twitter and created a thoughtful discussion among the judges about its ability to make a strong connection in short, impactful statements.

“It really takes a lot of work to make something seem so effortless yet capture so much intrigue’ commented Sissay. 

“It’s taking facts and creating something truly magical It has a killer last line, a threat of a single pebble altering the height of the sea; it’s really something.”

“I like this. You can see the thought and planning; every line matters which is so important in micropoetry” added McAuliffe. “They are making us see science, taking these big ideas and transforming these into really vivid imagery; I’m impressed.”

Hessavi noted: “It’s a very powerful story of science in nature, it has a really strong, pulsating rhythm throughout. The ‘plants that survive drought’ section gives such a great impression and really captures the emotion of science too.”

The prize for the winning poem this year was £500, with £250 in prize money going to two runners-up.

The first runner-up, submitted by Lauren on Twitter was well liked by all judges, with Sissay remarking “There’s a lot of work gone into this, the way it is structured, accompanied by the sounds captures that true impact of science and energy into a well thought piece.” 

Second runner-up submitted by Animashaun Ameen via email was praised by McAuliffe, saying “Blue Heaven has a narrative that creates a strong connection with the reader, I particularly liked the ‘mistaking lightning for thunder’ line which establishes how hard it is to know the world and gets that across to the reader early on.”

In the under-18s category, a poem submitted by Maya Pal, aged 8, most impressed the judges with Hessavi commenting on Maya’s ability. Hessavi said “to generate vivid imagery in a condensed, character-limited entry shows a high level of creativity for Maya’s age. Congratulations.” 

Finally, a poem named ‘Toast’ was highly commended. The judges highlighted the poem’s ability to praise and give thanks to some of scientific creation and others in existence. Sissay said: “’Cheers to engines’, it’s a strong, powerful opening statement and we go from industry to ‘the sun and moon’ and how science is everywhere we look and in everything we do.”

John McAuliffe said:

‘Science around us’ as a theme gave our entrants a great breadth of possibilities to explore. The poems we talked about build pictures, or they tell a story and they showcase the importance of the theme. We are delighted to have had so many brilliant entries this year, especially seeing how variously the poems presented different takes on the theme.