Bare Fiction is very pleased to announce the names of the six short-listed poets in the Debut Poetry Collection Competition. Our judge, Andrew McMillan, had the pleasurable task of anonymously reading all 161 entries and selecting the six entries that make up the shortlist.

Each of the six selected poets must now submit a full collection of 50+ poems and then one of those poets will be selected to receive the £1000 prize plus publication of their collection and 50 author copies. Two runners up will each be awarded publication of a pamphlet length collection and 30 author copies.

The winners will be announced in October 2015.


in alphabetical order

  • The Knowledge Weapon by Annette C. Boehm (Germany)
  • Boundaries by Michael Brown (Middlesborough,UK)
  • Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, And Other Troubled Creatures by Joanna Duffy (Hackney, UK)
  • The Opposite of Defeat by Ken Evans (Derbyshire, UK)
  • More than you were by Christina Thatcher (Cardiff, UK)
  • Continuous Present by Peter Wallis (Norfolk, UK)

Judges Statement

andrew-mcmillanAll the clichés which judges are expected to churn out after judging a competition are true here as well; there was an enormous breadth of talent on display, three or four times the amount of poets who ended up on the shortlist could have been there.

Yet, this competition did feel different. First of all, obviously, it’s for a full collection, so you really have to read the entries in three different ways. Are the poems engaging? Does the submitted pamphlet sit together as a pamphlet? Would you want to read more and would this be a voice which could sustain a full collection?

Many of the submissions had some great poems, but some weak ones as well, suggestive perhaps that a little more time is needed before a collection is embarked upon. Some of the submissions veered wildly between subjects or styles or ideas; this can be exciting but a book needs some sort of spine to hold it together, it can’t just be a random assemblage of pages which aren’t speaking to one another. Some of the submissions felt targeted towards the presumed personal preferences of me as a judge, people perhaps having read or heard the poems from physical which deal with sex and the body and masculinity. Perhaps as judges, or just as humans, we’re drawn to that which is unlike ourselves, certainly often as a reader in poetry I delight in finding something I know I couldn’t do, about a subject I know I couldn’t tackle myself.

On an individual level, a lot of the poems fell into the traps we’re all always trying to dance around when we write: political poems which simply tell us how to feel, rather than showing us a situation and letting us make our mind up ourselves; poems where the ending explains the previous stanzas of the poem, just in case the reader hadn’t understood what was happening; poems which talk about sex but never actually show it—the equivalent of the curtains blowing across the bed in a film sequence.

There were pamphlets submitted which I know will go on, deservedly, to be published elsewhere. In another year, on another month, another set of eyes would have found six other names for the shortlist. But this year it’s these six, any one of which would produce an exciting, dynamic and arresting first collection.

It’s been a privilege and an incredibly humbling experience to read so much good poetry (back to the clichés). Clichés are ok though, sometimes—they speak of a collective experience. Poetry is a collective experience, no matter the insistence of competitions to assert otherwise. Winning or short listings, in the end, perhaps don’t matter. All that matters is that you, yes YOU, keep writing, keep sharing it with people, keep sending things out for submission, keep knocking on the door. Today we shine a light on these six talents; I urge you all, as READERS of poetry (as we all are, first and foremost) to celebrate them, then pick up the pen and continue to speak into the silence.

Andrew McMillan


Annette C. Boehm

Annette C. BoehmAnnette C. Boehm is a graduate of the Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her chapbook The Five Parts of Love – Confabulating Sappho was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2012, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in UK and US journals such as New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, elimae, Chariton Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts and others. Her manuscript The Knowledge Weapon was also finalist for the 2015 New Issues Poetry Prize, FIELD Poetry Prize, and the Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves as a poetry reader for the online journal Memorious.


Michael Brown

Michael BrownMichael’s work has been published widely including The Rialto, Lighthouse Journal, Other Poetry, Crannog, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, The North, Brittle Star, New Walk and The Interpreter’s House.

In 2014 he won the Untold London Brazen Valentine Competition with his poem, From Hungerford Bridge, Looking East.

He was placed third in the York Poetry Prize, 2015, with the poem Water Lilies and he recently collaborated with the Liverpool poet Maria Isakova Bennett in a project at the Walker Gallery as part of Light Night.

The pamphlet, Undersong (2014) is available from Eyewear Publishing.


Joanna Duffy

Joanna DuffyJoanna was born in 1991 in Swindon, and grew up in Marlborough in the Wiltshire countryside. She studied for her BA in English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, graduating with a first in 2013. Now based in Hackney, East London, she works as both a freelance copywriter and language researcher, and focuses on her own writing whenever she has a spare moment. Her debut poetry collection Lobsters Wearing Oven Gloves, And Other Troubled Creatures was longlisted for the Melita Hume Prize in 2015 under a different title.


Ken Evans

Ken EvansCompleting his Master’s this year in Creative Writing, tutored by John McAuliffe and Vona Groarke at the University of Manchester, Ken Evans works part-time in schools and as a lead-mine guide, to what is laughably called, ‘support’ this poetry habit.

Ken’s work was longlisted in the Poetry Society’s National Competition 2015.

He won an award in the Poets & Players competition 2014.

His work appears in two anthologies, In Protest: 150 poems for Human Rights (Foreword: Ruth Padel, 2013) and in Elemental Poetry: poetry of the Periodic Table (November 2015).

Ken’s poems have appeared in the Interpreter’s House, Envoi, Morphrog9, Obsessed with Pipework, and Ink, Sweat & Tears.


Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher Head Shot 1Christina Thatcher is a PhD student and postgraduate tutor at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Christina keeps busy off campus too by delivering creative writing workshops across South Wales, running projects for organizations like Making Minds and the Welsh Writers Trust, coordinating literature events for the Made in Roath Festival, and more.

Her poetry and short stories have featured in a number of publications including The London MagazinePlanet Magazine, Bare Fiction Magazine and the Lampeter Review. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her blog: or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.


Peter Wallis

Peter Wallis is an identical twin, born in 1954.

A former Eastern Arts Association Visiting Writer, and Primary School ‘Poet in Residence’, his poems have been published in the UK, Germany and New Zealand. He is three times winner of the Thetford Open Poetry Competition and has either won or been second in other competitions including the Scottish International, Capricorn International, and Norwich Open.

He has read his work at The Poetry Society, and on Radio 4’s Poetry Please, and has been widely published in magazines.

He is Submissions Editor for the charity “Poems in the Waiting Room”, which produces Britain’s widest circulating poetry periodical.

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