We were bowled over by the rawness in so many of the submissions for our first ever Poetry Competition in partnership with Arkbound Publishers. As one of our members told us “Poetry is my escape gate to get through life – I love it” and we can see that love in so many of the poems submitted.

We will be featuring more than just these winners over the next few weeks but for now, to celebrate World Mental Health Day, here are the two that were selected by our judge Trasi from Urban Word Collective. Winners will receive a copy of Harriet Knock’s new poetry collection Emerging from the Storm.

Chloe Lake
Winner of the UK-wide competition

Light up the skies

Storms start with torrential rain and somber skies;
It’s like the world has heard our cries.
Thrashings of thunder with electrical lightening,
the buildup of anger can be quite frighting.
But just when we feel like we’re struggling to cope,
the clearing of clouds reveals a beacon of hope.
A colourful arc illuminates the sky,
and shows a magical place where bluebirds fly.
Forever rainbow chasing that pot of gold,
discovering the childhood lies we were told.
Finding the light in darkness can be tough,
especially when the journey has been so rough.
But try to remember -when the blanket of darkness covers the day,
the stars will always guide the way.
They graciously glow, and light our universes skies,
A spectacle of a billion dancing fireflies.
As the sun rises and sets each passing day,
with new beginnings and endings cast our way.
The shadows of our past can hide the light,
but keep your destination within your sites.
Your journey’s been long, look how far you have come,
start each day anew, with the rising of the sun.
As you make it through, from dust to dawn,
remind yourself ‘you are emerging from the storm’.

Debbie Smith
Winner of the Changes members & volunteers competition

Loss Pain Hope

5 years ago I lost my treasure. My heart was broken and I was changed, forever.

My dreams, so close, were snatched away and I was left shaken, bruised and wondering.

Time passed, hopes raised but were dashed time and time again. Each year when I looked back on the date, things were worse. Pain increased year on year. Each year I was more broken (how can that be?)

I ploughed on. I kept fighting. I pushed away the fears. I fought through the quicksand that threatened to overwhelm me. I borrowed against all my reserves, until I could do no more.

The dam broke. I had to stop. I had to face my fears. I had to stand still and let the pain wash over me. I had to feel it all. Years of emotion burst. I was broken.

And I survived. Slowly, slowly, slowly a new shoot grew from the wreckage. Gently I tended the fragile sprout of hope, of future. It was new, tender hopes, new ways of being, unfamiliar. A new me. Slowly (and I mean slowly) the clouds began to part.

I fought on, but in a new way. This time it was a voyage of discovery. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? A scary journey. But with a brighter future.

And now I’m in a new place; it’s different to where I thought I’d be. The pain will forever be a part of me, but there is new life too. Is this the destination or another stop on the journey? I don’t know. But I am calm.

Now I don’t fight against the quicksand. But it doesn’t take me.

I am grateful; I am changed. 

Winners will receive a copy of Harriet Knock’s new collection Emerging from the Storm to celebrate World Mental Health Day. Huge congratulations to all who participated. Submissions were judged anonymously.