So pleased here at the Leaping Word that ‘Oystercatchers’, a poem by our very own Deborah Harvey, has just come home with a shiny penny in its pocket, having been awarded first prize in the 2018 Plough Prize Short Poem Competition.

Of the competition, Judge Pascale Petit says: ‘I love short poems, but I know how hard they are to write, so it was with trepidation that I read this longlist. I need not have worried – the under-ten-liner is in good health. The challenge is to go as far as in a long poem, without the length! It’s all about compression and impact, making words as elastic as possible.

‘Oystercatchers’ does just that – every word is weighted. In ten short lines I see a figure like Leonora Carrington’s ‘The Giantess’, a powerful and spare enigma of a woman, oystercatchers, (with their red bills and legs), and blood cells. Although nothing is explicit, something important is being enacted, and the epigraph by Camus adds an anchor, so that we guess his are the words being taken to the sea and released from the heart. I kept coming back to this and getting more from it.’

The Leaping Word would like to extend its congratulations to the other winners in both categories of the 2018 competition, the Open and the Short Poem, and to all the short- and long-listed poets. 

‘Oystercatchers’ will be included in Deborah’s forthcoming collection, The Shadow Factory, to be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing later this summer.



And because here at the Leaping Word we like to share not just the work we do but also the glory, here is Colin with his certificate for winning the individual prize in the City of Bristol College Creative Writing Competition, with a poetic-prose piece called MIAOWWW!

Colin says: ‘Black cats evoke magic, mystery, music, night-time and a cool lyric! I played around with these elements and Miaowww! gradually appeared… magical realism, Filton style.’




If you didn’t manage to get to the March Silver Street Poetry open mic, with guest reader Sharon Larkin, you missed a treat. But there’s no need to despair, as we have some exciting readers booked for the coming months.

In a change from the previously advertised poet, Dominic Fisher will be our guest poet on Friday 5th April, reading from his first collection, The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead.

Chaucer Cameron will now be reading for us in November.

Friday 3rd May – Kate Noakes – prize-winning poet and short story writer from Reading

Friday 7th June – Ross Cogan – Creative Director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Friday 5th July – Lucy English – reading from the book of her award-winning project, The Book of Hours

Friday 6th September – David Briggs – reading from his new poetry collection

Friday 4th October – Deborah Harvey, reading from her fourth poetry collection, The Shadow Factory

Friday 1st November – Chaucer Cameron of Elephant’s Footprint and Poetry Film Live

Friday 6th December – Rachael Clyne, reading from her pamphlet, Girl Golem

Friday 7th February 2020 – Sue Sims, reading from her collection, Splitting Sunlight

As always, Silver Street Poetry will be happening on the first Friday of each month, at the Station, Silver Street, Bristol BS1 2AG, from 12.30 to 2pm. As well as guest readers, there are also open mic sessions, so do bring along a poem of your own or someone else’s to share.



We’re delighted to announce that Friday morning poetry group member Dominic Fisher has followed his success in the 2018 Bristol Poetry Prize by securing a publishing contract with The Blue Nib for his forthcoming collection, The Ladies and Gentleman of the Dead, which will be appearing next year. Well done, Dominic!




We are in the process of applying for funding for our intermediate and starter writing groups. If this might be of interest to you, please check back in due course for further details.


our hare reversed



Good poets reinvent the language, taking the given of ordinary speech and pushing it beyond itself, making in effect a translation from one sense of reality to another.

Jay Parini