One of our members, Anna James, of Irvinestown, recently won the prize for the Co. Fermanagh section of the inaugural national poetry competition organised by the Funeral Service of Northern Ireland.

The competition was inspired by the famous rendition of ‘Stop all the clocks’ by W H Auden, performed by renowned Scottish actor John Hannah in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The competition had hundreds of entries from across Northern Ireland and a winner from each county was selected and invited to attend a special reception in the Long Gallery at Stormont, where the overall winner was announced.  Sadly, Anna did not win the overall prize but her poem received great praise from fellow winners, supporters and competition organisers and she took away £100 in Co-op vouchers. Anna said that the vouchers will come in handy for her Christmas shop.

Her achievement is all the more remarkable, as it is the first poetry competition that she has ever entered.  Anna said, “I would never have dreamt of entering such a prestigious competition, if it had not been for the constructive critiquing, generous support and encouragement from my fellow scribes in Fermanagh Writers”.

As the taxi ferrying her to Stormont turned into the gates and she looked up at the historic Parliament Buildings, she whispered. “Not bad for a Valleys girl!” (She hails from the South Wales Valleys).

Anna’s winning poem:

Remembrance of Stars

I remember my grandfather pointing up into the night-sky

Showing me the Great Bear, Orion the Hunter, Milky Way

My little-girl’s eyes sparkled in awe and wondrous joy

And when he was no longer there, I recited their names

Like a litany, to remember the good times that we shared

And when my beloved step-father followed after him

I imagined them both in the Heavens, amongst the stars


Then, when Carl Sagan said that we are the stuff of stars

It struck such a resonant chord within my very being

I looked up into the night-sky remembering them anew


Now, many years have passed and many friends have left

I look up, wonder when I will join them amongst the stars

To be with those beloved acquaintances once more