A line drawing of the Liver Building with colourful painted clouds. Liverpool Poetry Prize celebrating neurodiversity

Meet the winners of the Liverpool Poetry Prize 2023

They were chosen by Brian Patten, one of Liverpool’s original Beat Poets

Having attracted over 200 entries, The Brain Charity’s Liverpool Poetry Prize 2023 showcased the 12 shortlisted finalists at our Midsummer Poetry Night in late June.

Now in its second year, the prize was launched by The Brain Charity to amplify new, contemporary and neurodiverse voices, particularly from the neurodivergent community, and encourage creativity, which is beneficial to brain health.

The poet Brian Patten. He is outside with his jacket slung over his left shoulder
Brian Patten – judge of the Liverpool Poetry Prize 2023.
Photo credit: Chris Greaves

There were two categories; the UniVerse Category, open to anyone writing on any subject, and the NeurodiVerse Category, designed to highlight the importance of artistic expression relating to neurological conditions.

The winners from the shortlisted finalists were judged by Brian Patten, one of Liverpool’s original Beat Poets. 

Brian said, “The standard of the competition was spectacularly high. I enjoyed reading them all, and I’m glad to do my bit, however tiny, for The Brain Charity”.

This year’s NeurodiVerse category winner was Carole Bromley, a York-based poet, who writes for both adults and children. Her winning poem, Lizard Hunt, is about her grandson in Australia who is autistic.

“Winning the NeurodiVerse category in the Liverpool poetry competition meant the world to me,” said Carole.  “It is a subject dear to my heart. I loved the event and the warm welcome you extended to all your visitors. I’ll certainly be back!’

The winner of the UniVerse category was Leicester-based poet Nicholas Hogg, whose poem Missing Person also triumphed overall to win the £1,000 prize.

Nicholas, who received his award from The Brain Charity’s new CEO Pippa Sargent, said:

“ It was a huge honour to win the Brain Charity Liverpool Poetry Prize, and a real thrill to hear my name called out at the awards ceremony, after hearing such moving poems from the other finalists.

“When I had seen Brian Patten was judge, I had to enter, and went with Missing Person, the title poem from my forthcoming debut collection.

“The poem is based around an agency job I once had spreading mulch around sapling trees on motorway verges, which I recall as a tough, low-paid gig.

“Those days grafting a few feet from the whooshing traffic were all worth it for the awards ceremony in Liverpool some 25 years later.

“Finding out more about the noble and necessary work the Brain Charity carry out, and meeting the great people involved in the organisation, made it a truly memorable night.”

Following the huge success of this year’s Liverpool Poetry Prize, we will be opening for entries to our 2024 competition this autumn, ahead of the winners being announced at a Burns Night Supper to be held at our centre in Liverpool on Friday 26th January 2024.

Here are this year’s winning poems:

UniVerse Winner:  Nicholas Hogg


I was a convict boy who dreamed of running. No surprise
that the men who had
got my attention. It was on a job near Heathrow,

driven out to a verge in a minibus
crammed with my fellow have-nots. We were hefting mulch
around sapling trees, squinting in the gale force

draft from the haulage trucks, when I found the bag.
Like looking at a corpse, or thoughtfully downwards and into a grave,
the three of us stood and stared. Big enough to hold a body,

the weight of a life. You unzip it. No, you. I pulled slowly,
like defusing a bomb. The payload damp and rife with mould.
We found a bunch of keys. Socks, boots, shorts, and jeans.

And a brand new pair of shoes, which the lad from Stockport took,
along with a watch that had no strap. We rummaged in the pockets
for money. Nothing but a Polaroid

soldier in the wild, smiling for the lens in his camo gear. We studied
his face for clues. Of what, God knows. Then we got back to work.
I’m not sure about the other two, shovelling

shit on minimum wage, but I was jealous. Here was a man
who’d stepped from his skin, scrubbing out a name and starting again.
Dead or alive. I wonder if he hears the traffic

like I still do, rattling a soul from a ribcage. Or how the airport
booms with soaring jets, the wing tips
trimmed with light.

A bearded man with dark hair in a black shirt with small, colourful images of tigers on it. There is a plain brick wall in the background.
Nicholas Hogg, winner of the UniVerse category in the Liverpool Poetry Prize 2023, and overall winner

NeurodiVerse Winner:  Carole Bromley

Lizard Hunt

For Billy

Though perhaps, these days, you like to be Will,
being twenty now and a student in Wollongong,
lonely, I’m told, in your studio flat
doing whatever it is teenagers do in their rooms.

When you were six months old your parents
took you to a paediatrician, told her
you didn’t look at faces. She laughed
but later you ran on tiptoe like a pony

and the nurse commented on your memory
and said you were somewhere on the spectrum.
Do you remember that Christmas at Mollymook,
how I took you hunting in the garden for lizards

and we found lots, hiding behind stones
and then, suddenly, that face through a crack,
the long, long tongue and we saw it was a snake
and ran away, hand in hand, squealing.

Liverpool Poetry Prize winner Carole Bromley receiving her prize at The Brain Charity
Liverpool Poetry Prize winner Carole Bromley receiving her award from Pippa Sargent at The Brain Charity

Categories: Events, News

Published: 20 July 2023