Winner: Amy Nugent, 'Treading Water'

Winner: Amy Nugent,

‘Treading Water’

Amy Nugent’s poem ‘Treading Water’ is the recipient of a 2020 Newcastle Poetry Competition Young People’s Prize.


Treading Water


Every new day is a leap of faith,

Hope, when you drag through the air

And take the plunge.


But the deep water’s cold and oppressive —

Claws raking up your skin,

Exposing your bones. Leaking blood


So the warmth can leave you too.

Hold your breath to keep it inside

You. Else it’ll be stolen. Poisoned.


Some days each breaking wave is enough to

Overwhelm, the power to tear you from your feet

With unmeasurable force.


If you fight the Tide, you’ll drift

To some paradise of originality. But

To fight is to expect fatal wounds.


Your legs writhe frantically

But it is barely enough to keep your head

Above the water.


Amy Nugent, 17