Poetry Competition 2nd Place | ‘Small Blues’ By Ilyana Kuhling

For Poetry Day Ireland 2018, HeadStuff.org launched a brand new poetry competition to celebrate this fantastic day of poetic activity around the country. This year the theme of the day was ‘Surprises’. For our competition we chose the theme ‘Surprise Encounters’

Our esteemed panel of judges for this year’s poetry competition were Colm Keegan and Erin Fornoff. Erin noted that they were ‘looking for surprising poems, and poems that arrest and compel and leave an emotional legacy. National Poetry Day is a great way to show that poetry is a fibre in everyone’s life, and speaks to truth that everyone shares.’

We at HeadStuff were humbled by the response to the competition with the sheer numbers of those who submitted their work. The judges were deeply impressed by the high quality of submissions. it was an incredibly difficult decision to pick three winners and thirteen commended poems. 



Over the next few days we will publish the three placed poems and thirteen commended ones. We would like to congratulate all the poets on their achievement. 

We would also like to thank everyone who took the time to submit to the competition. We received a high number of submissions of really high quality so please do keep watching the HeadStuff poetry section for more details on future submission information. Finally we would like to thank University College Cork, Poetry Ireland and Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat for their support. 

Read All Winning and Commended Poems Here 


Small Blues

By Ilyana Kuhling

Snips and snails and puppy dogs tails, that’s what little boys are made of.
But he was soft. More sweet than salt, a boy who loved to watch

the clover mites come in droves, drawn by summer heat, bright red
specks crushed so easily. Careful, he would give his hands to the trees

still as bark to feel them crawl. He did not understand the little things
but longed to learn how some could fly, disrupting stillness

in the air. Coupled with luck, yearning to know, he caught
small blues (the butterflies): would wait until they settled slow

and cup his hands, a gentle cage, around their fluttering – never to harm
only to feel the kiss of wings – then quick release. And once a wasp – the first he ever saw

he cupped (until it stung): a quick welt rising on his palm, a hard lump rising in his throat.
He cried for hours afterwards, he did not know he did not know he did not know

That there are things you should not catch. That there are things boys should not do
and soon he’d learn that soft is one
and soon he’d learn that cry is two


The first HeadStuff poetry competition was kindly judged anonymously by Colm Keegan and Erin Fornoff.

HeadStuff are extremely grateful to University College Cork, Poetry Ireland, and Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat for their generous support of the competition.

Photo by ARTHUR YAO on Unsplash

You might also like More from author