Judges 2016


Head of the Judging Panel: Paul Maddern

Paul Maddern was born in Bermuda and lived in Canada, the USA, and England before moving to Co Down in 2000. In 2009, he was a winner in the Templar Poetry pamphlet competition with Kelpdings. His subsequent collection, The Beachcomber’s Report (Templar: 2010), was shortlisted for the Eithne and Rupert Strong Award for Best First Collection and he is the recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s SIAP and ACES grants. He established the Seamus Heaney Centre Digital Archive as part of his PhD with the School of English at Queen’s University Belfast, where is he has served as Creative Writing Tutor for the Seamus Heaney Centre.

colin dardis circle

Colin Dardis, Poetry NI

Colin Dardis is a poet, editor, creative writer tutor and arts facilitator, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals and zines throughout Ireland, the UK and the USA. Colin runs Poetry NI, in which he is the editor of FourXFour, an online journal focusing on poetry from Northern Ireland. Pen Points Press, a poetry micro-press founded by Colin, launched at the Belfast Book Festival 2014. He also runs Purely Poetry, an open mic poetry night in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast. In January 2015, Colin became the new online editor for Lagan Press.



_MG_1798Ross Thompson, Winner of the second annual Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2013

Ross Thompson, an avid supporter of the Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition and host of an annual recital in Bangor since winning first overall place in  2013, returns as a judge once more.

When Ross won with his poetry submission entitled ‘Icarus‘ the Judges felt there was a great energy to his poem, and that it was eerie and interesting with a a use of unusual language. The Judges loved the line, “The moon appeared to ripple as if reflected / in a bucket…”. They felt like this exploded in the middle of the poem.

Since winning the competition Ross has gone on to launch his first pamphlet, Slumberland, published with Pen Points Press, and is currently working on other poetry projects. Ross is also a local school teacher.


Stephanie ConnStephanie Conn, Winner of the fourth annual Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2015

Stephanie is a primary school teacher from Northern Ireland. She developed the literacy programme, Passport to Poetry, facilitating poetry workshops for 7-11 year olds.

Her poetry has been published in a wide range of magazines and journals, and she has read her work throughout Ireland. She is a graduate of the MA programme at the Seamus Heaney Centre, QUB.

Stephanie was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Red Line Poetry Prize, and was highly commended in the Fool for Poetry Chapbook, Mslexia Pamphlet and Doire Press Competitions. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland’s Introductions Series. A winner of the Translink Haiku competition and the fourth annual Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2015. Stephanie has had her debut collection published by Doire Press in March 2016.

Stephanie was awarded a Tyrone Guthrie Bursary by Newtownabbey Borough Council. She is a recipient of the Arts Council N.I. Individual Artist Award and recently, an Artists’ Career Enhancement Scheme Award.

You can read Stephanie’s winning poem June on our 2015 Winning Poems page


Untitled_000112Beverley Brown, Funeral Services Northern Ireland

Beverley Brown joined the senior management team of James Brown & Sons, Funeral Services Northern Ireland, in 2007, after returning home to Belfast from managing a leading UK fashion store on London’s Oxford Street and was appointed to the role of General Manager in 2010. Responsible for the overall running of 19 funeral homes across Northern Ireland, Beverley has a management team of 13 and a staff of 120. She managed the inaugural ‘Carer of the Year’ Awards for James Brown & Sons and oversaw the opening of a new funeral home in Newtownards and the redevelopment of the branch in Larne.Committed to local community engagement, Beverley was involved in more than 400 community events in 2011 and the company won the Co-Operative Group’s ‘Community Event of the Year’. Beverley is a Mentor for The Prince’s Trust.