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The Winning Poets

Poetry Submissions Wanted 

Poetry Submission Calls for 

Poetry Competitions

  • The Witching Hour Competition
  • 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

    The Gallery of Winning Poets


    The Witching Hour Competition Winners

    John Ward 2016

    Don Kingfisher Campbell


    M. Brett Gaffney


    Bryon Richard Smith


    Stephen McQuiggan


    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

    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




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    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 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 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 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