Closing at midnight on Sunday 10th July: The McLellan Poetry Prize is awarded as part of the annual McLellan Arts Festival on the Isle of Arran. With eight prizes including a first prize of £1,300; second prize of £450; third prize of £150 and 5 commended poem prizes of £50 each, the McLellan Poetry Competition provides a major opportunity for aspiring poets to gain recognition. This year’s judge, Hollie McNish, will present the prizes in person at a special festival event on Sunday 28th August 2022 on the Isle of Arran, to which all prizewinners will be invited to read. Entries close at midnight on Sunday 10th July 2022. Full details and entry forms can be found at Arran Theatre and Arts Trust | Poetry Competition.
The best advice I can offer is this poem by the incomparable Fleur Adcock.
The prize-winning poem
It will be typed, of course, and not all in capitals: it will use upper and lower case in the normal way; and where a space is usual it will have a space. It will probably be on white paper, or possibly blue, but almost certainly not pink. It will not be decorated with ornamental scroll-work in coloured ink, nor will a photograph of the poet be glued above his or her name, and still less a snap of the poet’s children frolicking in a jolly game. The poem will not be about feeling lonely and being fifteen and unless the occasion of the competition is a royal jubilee it will not be about the queen. It will not be the first poem the author has written in his life and will probably not be about the death of his daughter, son or wife because although to write such elegies fulfils a therapeutic need in large numbers they are deeply depressing for the judges to read. The title will not be ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Life’ or ‘I Wonder Why’ or ‘The Bunny-rabbit’s Birthday Party’ or ‘In Days of Long Gone By’. ‘Tis and ‘twas, o’er and e’er, and such poetical contractions will not be found in the chosen poem. Similarly cliche´s will not abound: dawn will not herald another bright new day, nor dew sparkle like diamonds in a dell, nor trees their arms upstretch. Also the poet will be able to spell. Large meaningless concepts will not be viewed with favour: myriad is out; infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt. Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate bemoan. Apart from this there will be no restrictions upon the style or tone. What is required is simply the masterpiece we’d all write if we could. There is only one prescription for it: it’s got to be good.
Source: Adcock, Fleur (1983) Selected Poems, Oxford: Oxford University Press
How differently we might respond to TS Eliot’s groundbreaking poem if he had stayed with his first title, ‘He do the police in different voices.’ And how different our experience would have been if Ezra Pound hadn’t encouraged Eliot to thin the first draft by almost half. Twenty seven writers have been meeting regularly on zoom to unravel Eliot’s notoriously ‘difficult’ poem and prepare a day of readings and discussion for the centenary of its publication in 1922. Sue Boyle traces their challenging journey and talks about the exciting multi-media performance piece which has evolved from their collaborative work. – Sue Boyle
As one of those twenty seven writers, I have been immersed in Eliot’s poem and in our responses to it for months. Much of my recent writing relates to it, directly or indirectly.
The calypso singers are still laughing but the fishermen have thrown down their flowers
And in the captain’s tower are the poets still at war Eliot and Pound turning a line around deleting a stanza here adding a fragment there fine-tuning the sound while the great ship goes down?
On 6th January 2022, Wells Fountain Poets and Taunton-based Fire River Poets will come together for a joint reading to celebrate the New Year. The (optional) theme is Light. We hope you will join us on Zoom to hear a wonderful range of Somerset poets and poetry. There will be a small number of open mic slots too; do let FRP know via the Fire River Poets website if you’d like a slot as they’re sure to go quickly.
This is a free zoom event, but I hope you will show your appreciation by making a donation to FRP via the ‘Donate’ button on the ‘Register for an event’ page.
I am sorry toreport that Fountain poet Ewan MacPherson died on 10th September. He was indomitable, continuing, after suffering a stroke, to attend our monthly meetings in his wheelchair, accompanied by his wife and daughter. He was a master of the iambic pentameter. The photo below shows him performing in a collaboration, “Waterwoven”, at Priddy Folk Festival many years ago.
Another Fountain poet, my dear friend Gillian Booth, died three days ago, on 7th October. Painter, writer, activist, she was a force of nature, so full of joy and kindness and life that it’s hard to take it in that she’s no longer with us. The photo below was taken by Rachael Clyne on a poets’ day out in West Bay. That too was many years ago.
………………………………………………………………. Posted by Ama Bolton on 10th October 2021.
The Sea, the Sea! 2-4.45pm Saturday 25 September 2021
A free afternoon celebrating all things marine and maritime including a dramatic reading of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and a wealth of original writing about the sea Waterfront Arts Bar, Widcombe Social Club Presented by Bath Writers and Artists
In other news, Fountain poet Neil Bowen has published a collection of stories, with one poem snuck in. It’s called ‘People are Strange’ and is available here.
Fountain poet and seasoned podcaster David Niven has launched a new poetry website, Bard Window.
The first two half-hour podcasts are now in place, featuring the amazing Graeme Ryan from Fire River Poets, and someone called Ama Bolton from the Fountain Poets. More will follow soon. Do have a look at the site, register (it’s free) and add some poems of your own, with a paragraph or two about yourself and maybe a photo (robots seldom have a bio or photo.) And let David know if you’d like to do a podcast. We have some talented writers in our group, and I’d love to hear some of them in their own podcast. It’s not at all scary: David’s relaxed style will put you at your ease.
I don’t have the technical skill to host Zoom meetings, but I hope we will soon be able to meet in person. Watch this space.
The McLellan Poetry Prize is awarded as part of the annual McLellan Arts Festival on the Isle of Arran. With nine prizes including a first prize of £1,500 the McLellan Poetry Competition provides a major opportunity for aspiring poets to gain recognition. This year’s Judge, Luke Wright, will present the prizes at an online presentation evening on Thursday 26th August 2021, as sadly the festival is not being held live this year. All prizewinners will be invited to this (virtual) event. Full details (and entry forms) can be found at Arran Theatre and Arts Trust | Poetry Competition
This competition is unusual in that poems of up to 89 lines are eligible. The closing date for submissions is midnight on 11th July.
Wigtown Poetry Prize is Scotland’s International Poetry Prize, open to all. Founded in 2005, the Wigtown Poetry Prize is one of the UK’s best established writing competitions and a launchpad for many writers’ careers. Refreshed and rebranded in 2019, Wigtown Poetry Prize welcomes entries from poets writing in English wherever they may live. Separate categories celebrate the best of Scottish Gaelic and Scots language poetry, a special category acknowledges a rising talent in Dumfries & Galloway, and a pamphlet prize is named in memory of Alastair Reid – local poet and one of Scotland’s foremost literary figures. The competition closes on 31 May 2021, with a prize-giving at Wigtown Book Festival in the autumn.
And I’m passing on the following Competition news from Live Canon.
Pamphlets/Chapbooks: April 9th 2021 (guest judge Hannah Lowe) Collections: May 14th 2021 (guest judge Kirsten Irving) Individual poems: May 21st 2021 (guest judge Jennifer Wong)
The competition for poetry collections is not just for first collections. Poets fed back that actually it can be harder to place a second (or fourth or tenth!) collection, so we now have a category for ‘second and subsequent’ collections, as well as for firsts.