THE winner of this year’s Poet of Pontypool competition have been announced.

The competitions, run by Pontypool Community Council, closed on June 6, with poems to be based on either Seeds of Hope or The Old Soldier.

There were 23 senior poems received and over 60 junior poems.

The winner of the Poet of Pontypool competition, which was open to those aged over 18 years, was joint between Peter Hobbs and Doreen Harrison, who each submitted poems entitled The Old Soldier and each received 18 points.

Second place was awarded to Dorothy Harvey with her entry Seeds Of Hope and third place went to Richard John Smith with his poem, An Old Soldier.

The winner of the Junior Poet of Pontypool competition, which was open to those aged between 11-18 years old, was Katie Hale, with her poem Self Belief.

In joint second place was Cerys Fitzgerald with her entry As a soldier died today and Sophie Ffion Pollard with her poem, The Old Soldier.

Third place went to Alex Elliot with his poem, The Old Soldier.

Monetary prizes of first place £25, second place £15 and third place £10 were awarded to each.

The Poet of Pontypool event was held at the Woodlands Field log cabin, Penygarn, with each entrant reading out their own poem to an audience of 90 people, including the Mayor of Torfaen, Cllr Mandy Owen, and Mayor of Blaenavon, Cllr Sylvia Lewis.

The vice chairman of the community council, Cllr Bryn Parker, said that each poem was “full of quality and emotion”.

“The Mayor, local councillors, entrants and all who attended were full of admiration for every poet's quality work and the effort put in by all concerned,” he added.

The winning poems:

The Old Soldier
Peter Hobbs

So is this it, I think, as I sit
and I count up the change in my hat,
will I buy some nosh or some liquid cosh?
I have already decided that.

It’s food, I think, and not the drink
if I want to get out of this mess
I can make myself strong and it wont be long
then I’ll get a good job, I guess.

But I’ve done this before and got shown the door
before I could state my case.
The interview wont last if you have no past,
if you opt out of the human race.

They think I’m barmy but that was the army
that made me turn out this way.
Drilled me, honed me, almost cloned me
to do just what they say.

They teach you to kill and call it a skill
but they’ll have to answer for this.
You learn precision but not decision,
to shoot and not to miss.

But when you come out a bigoted lout
and can’t adjust to the pace.
For queen and country you fought, or so you thought,
not to save some politicians face.

So you men at the top it’s time to stop
and think about what you have done.
About lives destroyed by weapons deployed,
the rocket, the bomb and the gun.



Self Belief
by Kate Hale

It’s allowing the seeds of hope into the dirt,
the dirt that has crept in to your being.
Letting them sprout,
Trusting they’ll change you in to who you’re supposed to be.

It’s finding the inner strength in your will power,
the blazing passion in your courage,
to break away from the darkness tethering you to doubt.
Keep learning.
Keep loving.
Growing as a buried plant pushes though pavement.
Evolving like a trickling idea develops in the mind.

It’s defeating the adversity before you,
bit by bit
like the flower cracks the concrete
and the brain breaks our boundaries
until all fear falls away and you’re left with only yourself.

Yourself and the future.
Embracing every endless possibility that stretches out around you.
The opportunities.
The chances.
Unfurling before you like fronds of a fern in the tingling spring,
your only limitations being the ones which you impose upon yourself.



The Old Soldier
by Doreen Harrison

My Granddad fought in the first world war
But he never spoke of the blood and the gore ,
The mud in the trenches, of death and despair -
Sufficient to tell us, "Oh, yes, I was there!
He could polish his medals, display them with pride,
But stories of warfare were kept stored inside.
"Fair fighting is face to face," he would say,
"Not button press, thousands dead, like war today!"
He had twirly whiskers, he walked with a spring
In his step. He loved music, we liked him to sing
"Roll out the barrel!" A strong melody, he
Tenored dramatically. His mug of tea
Held a large splash of whiskey. He liked a cigar.
At times he got merry. My Mum then said, "Pa,
Remember, the kids are here, listening to you *
We'd attend well to Granddad, learn all that he knew.
Ask, "What was it like, going over the hill?
At this dear old Granddad became very still;
With a pause before saying, "Just go out to play -
I don't feel like answering questions! Away !
I have memories of World War 2, fear world war 3
Apprehensive and anxious. This horror will be
Mushroom cloud mayhem, a devilish dance ,
No longer a war that allows any chance
To the side who is hit first. I understand now
Why Granddad fell silent and furrowed his brow
And didn't embellish his wartime career -
Such sickening sagas brings nobody cheer.
A gentle old soldier, his duty well done
He did not give war glamour, nor should anyone !