Competition news

I have been asked by the organisers to share the following with you.

Closing at midnight this coming Friday, 20th May: Live Canon single poem competition. £1000 first prize. Guest Judge: Rebecca Goss.
Enter here

Closing at midnight on Monday 4th July: Coverstory. Details here  Results announced by the end of August, 2022. Max 60 lines. 

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
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
infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt.
Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate
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

The Waste Land Revisited

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?

Ama Bolton

An invitation from Bath Writers & Artists

The morning workshop from 10 to 12 noon is for subscribers. The afternoon readings and activities are open to all. Lunch needs to be booked by 22nd March.

Definitions for Equilibrium:

  • A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
  • Equal balance between any powers, influences etc; equality of effect.
  • Mental or emotional balance; equanimity.
  • Chemistry: the condition existing when a chemical reaction and its reverse reaction proceed at equal rates.
Inukshuk is the Inuit art of balancing rocks

Time to harness your poems to the Plough?

The Plough Prize for Poetry – 2022


Now in its nineteenth year, the Plough Prize for Poetry is an international open competition for a poem up to 40 lines on any subject. Deadline 31st March 2022

The competition this year will be judged by acclaimed poet Roger McGough.

1st Prize £1.000,  2nd Prize £500, 3rd Prize £250

Competition is open to everyone, and up to a maximum of 6 poems can be entered.

On-line entry fee £5 per poem. Postal entry fee £6 per poem.

 Poems that have been published or received any poetry prize award prior to March 31st, 2022, are NOT eligible for entry.

Visit  for further information on the competition, rules and how to enter.

The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Devon.

The Fire and the Fountain

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.


Like a new-

born heaving

for breath, the

poem has

preference for

air. Do not

hold back from

white space and

stanza break.

Let light shine

through the lines.

Tom Montag 2020

Sad news

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.

Bard Window: a new poetry podcast

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

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.

Some news to share

For those poems you’ve been writing in lockdown!

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.

Anyhow, all the submission deadlines and information is on our
‘submittable’ page here:

And more about Live Canon in general is on our website:

Good luck!