"While the prose deals with my personal situation I hope that the poetry is not just my voice
but is a voice for all those in similar circumstances who cannot be heard."

Daniel Holmes


International Welsh Poetry Competition 2016

Judge John Evans comments on Simple Beauty
During my first read through of all the competition entries, this poem really caught my attention. It was a poem which used end rhyme, and in rhyming couplets. Not always popular with the literati these days, but it is an age old form which has stood the test of time for good reason… it is also a form which is very difficult to get right.

Nonetheless, this poem was well crafted and the writer skilfully managed to achieve this without ever making it sound unnatural. The form aside, what really grabbed me most was, as the title suggests, its “simple beauty”. “I came upon a small red flower, I don’t know the day, or even the hour.” The poem reached out to me and pulled me in… and on some deep instinctive level it moved me…

When the competition had closed I was anxious to know who had written this poem, just to see if I could gauge if it was, as I believed, a poem created out of real experience. And I was moved when I found out it had been written by Daniel Holmes, a young man who has been unjustly sentenced to serve ten years in a Maltese prison for a minor offence. “The next day I returned but my flower was gone, destroyed by this place, and all that is wrong.”

Daniel is a talented and promising new writer, and he and his lovely family deserve our support.

Reviews from the Koestler Judges 2016

Why so Ignorant?
This is a powerful poem full of anger and frustration but carefully structured. The form, without breaks or stanzas, feels informal and flows well, as though we are in the narrator’s head and listening to their thoughts. The poem has good pace and rhythm. There is also careful use of rhyme, which moves the poem along nicely.

The Battle
This is a very amusing account of a battle with a mosquito. I think many readers will relate to it, recognising the scenario! You tell the story very nicely using quick formal language to mimic the style of classical poetry. The formal style contrasts very nicely with the humble mosquito. Similarly, you effectively use rhyme at the end of each line to heighten the comic tone. You clearly enjoy writing, and I hope you do much more of it. Well done!

Universal Message
Wow! What a poignant, thought provoking poem! Very well written indeed! Your AABB rhyme scheme is very controlled and effective. I also like that you have written your stanzas in quatrains and there is a clear rhythm. There’s nothing more to do or say I hope you have a lovely day!

An Ode to Ink
A dynamic, carefully controlled poem which energetically conveys a love of the written word. The AABB rhyme scheme is well handled and makes the whole poem racy and readable.



Daniel Holmes was arrested in Gozo in July 2006 for growing marijuana for personal use, then forced to stay in Malta for over 5 years awaiting trial. In November 2011 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined €23,000. We need your help in raising awareness and getting Daniel home to his wife and little girls! Please visit the Free Daniel Holmes facebook page and his Go Fund Me page.