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!

National Poetry Competition deadline looming!

The National Poetry Competition, run annually by The Poetry Society since 1978, is one of the most prestigious poetry competitions for a single unpublished poem. Open to all poets worldwide aged 18 or over. With a top prize of £5000, this year’s judges include Neil AstleyKaren McCarthy Woolf and Jonathan Edwards. Enter online by midnight on 31 October 2020 at

As part of this year’s National Poetry Competition, there is a series of free writing guides by Pascale PetitEric BerlinElla FrearsJane Yeh and Matthew Caley to help spark creativity and get people writing their own poems. There are also Q&As from this year’s judges. All this and more can be found on the National Poetry Competition webpage.

It could happen any time,
earthquake, Armageddon. It
could happen.
Or sunshine, love,

It could, you know. That’s
why we wake
and look out – no
in this life.

But some bonuses, like
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

William Stafford

Not the Fringe Binge

Tomorrow, Saturday 17th October, we should have been indulging in a day of poetry at The Globe. Like every other Fountain Poets meeting since March, it has been cancelled. I hope, of course, to re-book all the cancelled poets some time in a future that seems to be drawing further and further into a distant and unguessable future.

CLIVE BIRNIE of Burning Eye Books (“Never knowingly mainstream”) would have read to us and run a Q&A on the process of achieving publication. He has sent me a link to the Clevedon Festival website, where you can hear him read from Palimpsest, his narrative sequence of poems recently published by Verve Press. It has been described as “Sci-fi poetry noir.” Clive has three times been short-listed in the Wells Festival Poetry Competition, and he won the Wyvern Prize in 2013.
Here you will find, among others, a reading by Deborah Harvey, who was due to read for us in June, one by Dominic Fisher who would have been our guest poet for July, one by Ben Banyard our April 2019 guest, and one by Melanie Branton who was our guest reader in July 2018.
Claire Trevien made a stop-motion animation of the final poem from Clive’s book. It can be seen here. Clive’s writing is very much my cup of tea, and the animation is a delight. Do try it!

I’m sad to miss Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell reading from their wonderful collaboration Two Girls and a Beehive; however I have found some readings from the book on-line here.

I hope you’ll find time to watch/ listen to some of these over the weekend.

Trust the poem. It will survive on surprisingly little. A poem doesn’t need much content to survive; its bones are hollow, like a bird’s. That’s what allows them to fly. You don’t need to haul the carcass of a great idea or story into the poem and dissect it there. Poems aren’t built of ideas; they’re built from words. Just enough words, no more, no less. – John Glenday

It’s National Poetry Day

… and this gurt lush book is published today.

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The Poetry Society, in association with the University of Exeter and Oneworld Publications, presents the Places of Poetry anthology, a volume of selected verse from around England and Wales from last year’s hugely popular Places of Poetry project, an interactive map that poets could pin their poetry to. It attracted 7,500 poems from over 3000 people. The map can still be found here. The project was launched by Paul Farley and Andrew McRae. PLACES OF POETRY: MAPPING THE NATION IN VERSE is an anthology of 200 of the best of these poems.

I have not yet received my copy, and apart from some well-known names I don’t know whose work has been chosen. You can hear me reading my poem on the bank of the Hartlake River (yes, that’s Glastonbury Tor on the horizon) here:

Posted by Ama Bolton on 1st October 2020

Troubador Prize

The following is copied from an email from Anne-Marie Fyfe. If you’re at a loose end this week, why not have a go?

troubadour international poetry prize 2020

judged by mona arshi & mark doty

  • first prize £2,000
  • second prize £1,000
  • third prize £500
  • plus 20 commendeds
  • plus Zoom reading with mark doty & mona arshi for all winning & commended poets 

submit via email by mon 28 sep 2020


  • Mark Doty is an American poet & memoirist, winner of Stonewall, Robert Creeley, Lambda Literary & National Book Awards & a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His books of essays include Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, memoir includes Firebird & Dog Years, & his 13 poetry collections range from Turtle, Swan (1987) to Deep Lane: Poems (Norton, 2015). His latest publication is What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in my Life (Norton & Cape, April 2020).
  • Mona Arshi worked as a Human Rights lawyer at Liberty before starting to write poetry: her debut, Small Hands won the 2015 Forward Best First Collection Prize, her poems have featured in Poems on the Underground & she was recently commissioned to write a programme on The Odyssey for BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. Her latest collection is Dear Big Gods (Pavilion Poetry, 2019).

judges will read all poems submitted


  • Poems: Poems may be submitted from any country & must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must show title & poem only, must not show poet’s name, must be the original work of the entrant (no translations) & must not have been previously published; no text alterations accepted after submission; no limit on number of poems or number of subsequent submissions.
  • Submission: Email only, no postal entries: email your poems as attachments (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .rtf only) to; include in email: Poet’s Name & Address, Phone Number, List of Titles, Number of Poems, Total Fees, & PayPal Receipt Number.
  • Fees: £5/€6/$7 per poem (Sterling/Euro/US-Dollars only); payment via PayPal at, no PayPal account required, all major credit cards accepted. 
  • Timeline: Submit by midnight (your local time) on Mon 28 Sep 2020; prize-winners will be contacted in week commencing Mon 16 Nov 2020.
  • Acknowledgement/Results: Submissions acknowledged within 14 days of receipt; results posted on website after Mon 23 Nov 2020; judges’ decision is final; no correspondence entered into.

(Check out winners, winning poems & judges’ reports, 2019 & previous, on our poems page.)