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The Winning Poets

2017  Uma Venkatraman

Living in Singapore, India-born Uma Venkatraman is a journalist with a passion for poetry. She has been published in anthologies such as Good Morning Justice, Along The Shore and Beyond The Hill, and in the Pink Panther Magazine. She has also taken part in Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project. She hopes to publish a collection of poetry that will touch readers' hearts and minds.

2016  John WArd

John Ward is a 64 year old writer from the North of England. In 2015 he completed his BA in Creative Writing with the Open University. Much of his narrative poetry and prose is personal and reflects a life where love and loss have had a profound effect on his outpourings.

2015 Don Kingfisher Campbell

Don Kingfisher Campbell is a widely-published, award-winning, workshop-teaching, reading-hosting, quarterly-publishing poetryholic with a two-year-old MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles.

For 100% proof, go to

2014  M. Brett Gaffney

M. Brett Gaffney, originally from Houston, Texas, holds an MFA in Poetry from Southern Illinois University and works as Associate Editor for Gingerbread House Literary Magazine.

Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Exit 7, Penduline, REAL, Permafrost, Still: The Journal, Licking River Review, and Zone 3 among others. 

And here's a link to Gingerbread House

2013  Bryon Richard Smith

'I am really excited to be your winner for 2013. I never thought I would win anything like this. I have been telling everyone since I was notified and they are probably sick of hearing about it.' bBryon Richard Smith

For further information about our winner visit his website

2014 Winning Poem

Dead Girl

I like to pretend I died 
axe murderer, steamroller, 
lightning strike, something bizarre 
or bloody, an accident that renders 
my body unnatural, my insides 
on the outside so everyone can see 
what I’m made of, my fingers each mailed 
to a different zip code in Tucson, Arizona. 

I could be that girl you heard about 
last summer who fell from a

mid-loop, her shoes found later in a tree 
like baby birds. Or maybe, the man 
in the subway with the awkward shuffle 
too near the tracks, who looked 
to a group of schoolgirls before he jumped, 
his eyes they remember like two pennies. 

I’ll even take a simple car crash, 
my blood on cloth seats, 
my head somewhere in the trunk 
like luggage, the wreck suitable 
footage for high school drivers’ ed. 
courses, my carnage replayed again 
and again, a cautionary fairy tale. 

I can be anyone if I try hard enough, 
if I can forget that morning 
and how easily I slipped away 
beneath the overpass, 
without fuss or fury, how the day 
went on and no one came to find me, 
no crowd with mouths covered, 
how the highway above me 
kept on with its roaring, unaware 
of the dead girl, raccoons 
scavenging my lonely story 
to take to their dens, 
to feed their hungry young. 

by M. Brett Gaffney 

The Gallery of Winning Poets


The Witching Hour Competition Winners

Uma Venkatraman


John Ward


Don Kingfisher Campbell


M. Brett Gaffney


Bryon Richard Smith


Stephen McQuiggan


2017 Winning Poem


By the gurgling brook I wait 
This time I know you will come 
Once before I sat here 
listening for the soft crunch 
of your footsteps 
sensing the warm mist 
of your breath 
until I blended 
into the darkness 

Now my eyes 
pierce the night 
seeking you out 
I have haunted your dreams 
long enough, weaved a spell 
around your thoughts 
It will pull you to me 

And when you are here 
I know you will not leave 
for your dying gurgle 
will vanish below 
the rippling waters 

Our place, for eternity

by Uma Venkatraman

2016 Winning Poem

A Plea from the Deceived 

The doused flame of her hair 
Striped the ivory mask 
That stared through the ripples 
Her arms rose and fell 
With the wind-lifted branches 
Of the willow that marked her rest 
They rose and fell, rose and fell 
In a plea to her lover 
To lift her back to life 

From the great hall 
Laughter chimed with crystal 
As he pranced a jolly polka 
Those echoes of the living dead 
Were borne on a winter breeze 
To the waters cold edge 
Where her arms rose and fell, rose and fell 
In a plea to her lover 
To lift her back to life 

by John Ward

2015 Winning Poem 

Eternal Epitaph 

You are a ghoul 
in the graveyard 
of my past life 

The siren who took my soul 
with magic potion lips 
and black cat 

Am I being an ogre 
to remind you of the spell 
that once spooked both our spirits 

We were like bats 
fluttering above the zombies 
soaring on a warlock’s broomstick 

Now I'm no better than a ghost 
rattling my chains to bemoan 
what sank in the quicksand 

I'd rather be an imp 
putting you in an iron maiden 
to revive our skeletons 

Instead I limp along like a mutant 
wishing he had his banshee back 
to spin illusion again 

But come to think of it
actually were a witch 
wearing a black widow 

Who sank her fangs into my heart 
to bleed to death my dream 
we would have an afterlife 

There is no chance of a phoenix here 
because you are the phantasmal wraith 
and I poisoned spider in a dungeon 

So I guess I'll bury our chimera 
which turned out to be a squonk without 
a demon's chance at reincarnation 

And carry a torch into my skull 
wherein lies the specter o
f a relationship 
like cobwebs in a catacomb 

by Don Kingfisher Campbell

Site Visits


The Witching Hour Competition 2017

The award for best poem goes to Uma Venkatraman for her poem 'Waiting.'

The Witching Hour Competition 2016

The award for best poem goes to John Ward for his poem 'A Plea from the Deceived'

The  scariest poem commendation goes to Wendy Joseph for her poem 'Death.'

The best rhyming poem commendation goes to Bryon Richard Smith for his poem, 'I Am Death.'

The following poet was Highly Commended by our judges,

  • Cara Hughes

The Witching Hour Competition 2013

The award for best poem went to Bryon Richard Smith for his poem 'The Raven Effect.'

The  scariest poem commendation went to Nathan Kendall for his poem 'The Charnel Waltz'.

The following poets produced poems that were Highly Commended by our judges:

  • Edward Val 
  • Alison Clarke 
  • Shannon Jones 
  • Margaret Ann Waddicor 
  • Martin Willitts Jr 

The Witching Hour Competition 2015

The award for best poem goes to Don Kingfisher Campbell for his  poem ' Eternal Epitaph'

The  scariest poem commendation  goes to Rhea Seren Phillips for her poem 'You Idiot Child, Child'

The best rhyming poem commendation Bryon Richard Smith for his poem, 'Walking the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.'

The following poets were Highly Commended by our judges:

  • Stephen Paden
  • Jonathan Tromane
  • Starlah Brown
  • Thomas Vaughan Jones

The Witching Hour Competition 2014

The award for best poem goes to M. Brett Gaffney for her poem 'Dead Girl'.

The  scariest poem commendation goes to Rosemary Harris for her poem 'Untitled'.​​

The Witching Hour Competition 2012

The award for best poem was given to Stephen McQuiggan for his poem 'Candledrawn'.

The award for best photography went to Ginna Wilkerson for her photograph 'Blue Hallway'.

The following poets produced poems that were Highly Commended by our judges:

  • Ruan Wright,
  • Fiona Burnett
  • Ginna Wilkerson

2013 Winning Poem 

The Raven Effect

Love was lost on this black day
When the raven flies away

A soul mates lust is nevermore
The raven’s cry will not restore

Friends who lie we never trust
Avoid the raven it is a must

Past family sins now hope is gone
Bad raven’s luck from dusk till dawn

Success is fleeting it always dies
On raven wings each failure flies

Sorrow arises from wrong decisions
Regrets are many thru raven visions

A midnight curse has much despair
From raven talons that always tear

Memories haunt our body and soul
The raven’s blood will take its toll

Door chamber taps will echo eternal
A raven’s quoth is forever nocturnal

The raven effect fills us up with dread
Leaving us broken and lonely and dead

by Bryon Richard Smith ©2013

2012 Winning Poem 


A withered arm made of brittle plastic
glimpsed through a harsh slit, an open window
that reveals the taunt of your hair so thick
as you slump, eyes half closed, in candle glow.
A heavy shadow in worn out chair,
you look devoured, half 
eaten by your pain,
yet oblivious, your breath a stranger:
I prayed I would never see you again,
hard prayers to break the chains that hold you here,
the chains you forged and now cannot let go.
It frightens me to recall the old fear
in your eyes, as the candle burns so low.
So can you tell me how you sit that way
when I buried you only yesterday?

by Stephen McQuiggan