Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize 2023 Winners and Shortlist

Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize 2023 Winners and Shortlist

Congratulations to the joint winners and shortlist of the Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize 2023!


How It Turns

Bradley Samore

Walking with my dad in the Plaza Mayor,
                         I let him lead. His beret, brown leather boots,
             cigar, and tweed jacket spell wannabe Madrileño.

History scoffs from the windows,
                         but he knows better historia also means
           “story” the imperial red walls,

la Casa de la Panadería, Philip III and his horse
                         attired in verdigris. In the shadows of the arcade,
           collectors sell stamps and coins dating back

to before Franco’s dictatorship while,
                         in the sunlight, a glass harpist decants a Bach prelude
           from the lips of wine glasses. Dad stops to leaf

through a painter’s work, his other hand
                         holding away his cigar, a few flakes of ash falling
          on the cobblestones. “Mira esta,” he tells me, holding up

a painting of el Metrópolis, a building
                         that stands tall in his memory, in the background
          of a photo my brother and I leaning against him.

The painter’s eyebrows crest like breakers,
                         and he puts his brush down. Haggling, laced with
          the traveler’s expectation to bring back treasure,

tips the scale and the euros cross the border
                         from Dad’s wallet to the painter’s hand.
          “¿De dónde son?” he asks, and it turns out

none of us is Spanish. Back in Mexico, the painter
                         designed bridges for the government. We talk about
          cold showers, how it stresses the body less, how it’s better

for the skin to pat it dry. My dad draws
                         his cigar to an ember. It turns out
         we are talking about God.

Prospect Park With My Mother During An Ectopic Pregnancy

Ivy Raff



She’s traversed the Hudson:
unaccustomed juxtaposition.

When I’m well my complexities
scratch at her surface and she stays

in Jersey, longs for the tiny girl I was,
curls in ‘tails, nose in books,

before I absconded to the loud side
of the river. Now the baby

must die so I can live. I didn’t want to be a mother.
She wanted to be a grand/mother but not like this.


In these shadow-weeks, each
day may dawn my last. She’s come

to witness the impending hemorrhage.
I’m sick, finally, and this she knows

how to get on with. No stories
from Rome or Taiwan, no book recommendations

to tax her scattered concentration, to remind her
she neither travels nor reads. Pregnant and dying,

eyes smoke and sunken, I look nothing
like the smack-talking kid she scolded after the rape,

It’s the way you carry yourself.
He could smell it on you.

My mouth lacks the strength
for the twenty-year snarl I send her.

She simmers milk for my oatmeal,
shimmies my coat over my shoulders.


The doctors say walk,
but just a little. Blood must not pool,

must not rush. Orange gilds oaks,
particularly vibrant this year.

Red more rebellious. Every pace
a gift: felled-leaf fire curls

on concrete steps, the air’s cool
with kisses. Every day we stroll

slow, so the dam won’t burst.


Brenton Fisher – Go Home

John Pring – Something Rotten Beneath The Floor

Helen Fallon – Chip Shop Sonnet

Alex Tyndale – August

Cassandra Moss – Windows Might


Ethan Sales – Ex

Julie Sheridan – Instructions on Excising the Bad Man

Sam Kaspar – big boy bike

Adrian O’Shea – Sock-Hole Syndrome

Jo Matthews- there are many ways to view a body

Emily Barker – Post-pandemic notes for the future health of my basal ganglia

Aidan Casey – Mutatis Mutandis

Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize Winners and Shortlist