Bloom Poetry Competition Winners Announced

Published May 13, 2021

We are delighted to share the winners of the inaugural Bloom Poetry Competition, part of Bloom 2021: Exeter's Online Festival Of Mental Health Awareness. The winners are announced below, and you can scroll down to read the winning poems below.

Bloom Poetry Competition


  • 'Cherie' by Paul Warnes

Highly Commended: 

  • 'Tree In the Woods' by Toby Brooks
  • 'Outlines' by Tia Meraki
  • 'General Sherman' by Will Mortimore
  • 'Rhubarb Fields' by Joséphine Sourgnes

Bloom Junior Poetry Competition (Under 18s)


  • 'Help Me Moon' by Safiya Tiotto-Smith

Highly Commended: 

  • 'Flowers' by Malilka John
  • 'Four Seasons In One Head' by Kitra Oldham
  • 'Treacle beaded fingertips' by Kizzy Rollings

We were bowled over by the quality of entries to our first Bloom Poetry Competition and look forward to seeing the opportunity return again at next year's festival. One of the competition's judges, Naomi Turner, said:

'Reading the submissions for the BLOOM Poetry Competition has been a privilege. The entries were evocative, playful, heart-warming and funny – the quality was so high and made for some difficult judging! Thank you to everyone who opened themselves up and submitted their work.'

You can read the two winning poems below, or see all the winning and highly commended poems here >>

Bloom Poetry Competition Winner


An Autumn storm stripped you.
“Is tree dying?” my daughter asked.
You were both very young.

For seventeen years I have watched over you-
watched your shadow in the streetlight
edge further abroad,
your branches stretch and brush
the walls of another home.

When you were small I cut the stake
that tethered you,
stripped away the creeping ivy
that strangled you,
tended the lacerations
that scarred you,
Raked the leaves that you shed like tears
when the cold came.

And in return, each Spring birthday,
I swam in cherry blossom scent.

I’ve watched you both grow and change
but now she’s gone- uprooted.

- By Paul Warnes

Bloom Junior Poetry Competition Winner

Help Me Moon

Help me moon, listen close:
People are starting to overdose
On greed and hate and immoral things,
The kind of sins the night-time brings.

How do you do it? Keep the peace,
When the sky hides all of evil’s caprice.
I’ve tried to rule and punish their crimes,
But sunburn only works sometimes.

Help me moon, I need power;
When was the last time you listened to a sunflower?
No one listens, yet everyone bathes,
In the golden glow of my angry face.


Listen sun, listen close:
You’re shouting in beams of light too verbose.
The clouds are your words, and the sky is your page,
Stop burning and yelling and taking centre stage.

You asked how I do it – ignoring the sorrow,
I take on my shift knowing there’s a tomorrow.
Day shift, night shift – We work to get paid
For the same damned cause of earning more days.

We’re doing our bit; We keep them alive.
Can’t you see? Without you they would die.
A world without sun could never exist,
You’ve got control; they lose theirs through fists.

How did you get to be so wise?
Why didn’t they make you the king of the skies?

Because you are you, and I am me:
You rule the land, I rule the sea.

But how do you do it? Your craters held high,
When everyone sleeps and ignores your sky.

I govern the night, watch shadows unfold,
Because a star once told me silver is rarer than gold.

You’ve helped me moon, of this I am sure,
You’ve cooled my temper and warmed my core.

You deserve to feel strong; it’s how you keep me,
Circling and circling without insanity.


So you’ve helped me,

You’ve helped me too,

Thank you, sun,

And thank you, moon.


- By Safiya Tiotto-Smith