Category Archives: poetry competition

Tone down the strangeness

Our very first, and long-postponed, Festival Fringe event was a huge success. Our featured poets Michelle Diaz and Graeme Ryan gave dazzling and moving performances.

Michelle is a long-standing member of the Fountain Poets. Earlier this year she was elected the Chaired Bard of Glastonbury, a role she has embraced with gusto. There is both suffering and joy in Michelle’s 2019 pamphlet from Against the Grain, The Dancing Boy, which ‘combines painful honesty with a sense of hopefulness’. Above all, these are poems of love, understanding and acceptance. They tell painful stories but never bear grudges. They reveal a generous spirit and a lively sense of humour. Michelle had come hot-foot from her role that afternoon as a short-list selector for the Wells Young Poets Competition.

Graeme’s full collection, Valley of the Kings, was published earlier this year by Coverstory Books. It is an excavation of family history and of contemporary life, revealing the voices and worlds always present under this one, more real. It is a blend of scholarship, close observation, devotion to the natural world and breathtaking imagination. It is an inexhaustible treasure-house. Every poem reveals more on a second, third or fourth reading.

The meeting was well-attended and there were some very strong readers during the open-mic session, with a handful of particularly hard-hitting social-comment poems. I read out Linda Saunders’s prizewinning poem Two Wood Pigeons (Highly Commended AND People’s Choice) from the aftenoon Wells Festival prizegiving. This poem would still be a joy if it were nothing more than a meticulous observation of the birds preening themselves. But it’s more than that; there’s gentle humour and the poem opens out into a reflection on the work of a poet. I think all of us went home feeling energised and inspired. This post’s title comes from a poem read by Tristram Fane Saunders, judge of the Wells Festival Open Poetry Competition. He has a new book coming out next summer and has expressed interest in coming to us as a guest reader.

We next meet at 7pm on Monday 7th November, upstairs at The King’s Head in Wells High Street, conveniently close to the Union Street Car Park. No guest poet; plenty of open-mic opportunities.

“How do you know if what you’re revising out of a piece isn’t the very thing that made the piece interesting to someone else? What is the difference between thinking about “the reader” and pandering to “the reader”? How do you know if you’re thinking too much about “the reader” or not enough? What if you never think about “the reader”? Do you risk writing poems that are just you mumbling to yourself? What if there is no “reader”? Ever? Is the thing you made still a poem?” This is from a recent blog-post by Marilyn McCabe. The whole is well worth reading here.

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A sleepiness of weather

We started last Monday’s meeting with half an hour of open-mic. Beth was first. “I’m going to read some short poems about weather,” she said, and immediately a thunderstorm began!
Morag read from the first chapter of her newly-published memoir, which begins with these memorable words: I was born on a fault line.
Andrew’s poem put into words what many of us are feeling about the political situation.
Paul sang his new version of a sea shanty (to the tune of The Leaving of Liverpool) all about the problems of finding a place to park in Bristol!
Isabel performed her poem about the Hindenberg and Steve read his narrative poem about Jan van Klamm from Rotterdam.

Then our guest Annie Fisher entertained us with a selection of poems on subjects ranging from our new PM’s attempts to revive the entente cordiale, to Pablo Picasso and his pet owl. We even sang a two-part round in praise of a song-thrush. This post’s title is taken from her poem Naming this Place.

After the break we had poems from Martin, David, Judy and me (Ama), before Annie’s very enjoyable second set.

Our next meeting on Monday 3rd October will be an open-mic, chaired in my absence by David Niven. Same place (The King’s Head in Wells High Street) same time (7pm).

One day while studying a Yeats poem I decided to write poetry the rest of my life … I recognised that a single short poem has room for history, music, psychology, religious thought, mood, occult speculation, character, and events of ones life. I still feel surprised that such various substances can find shelter and nourishment in a poem. – Robert Bly

Other news:

Thursday 6th October – Phantastic Ekphrastic. Isabel White is putting on a free evening of poetry with illustrations, from her latest collection, Scallywag. It’s at The Clevedon Distillery, 23 Old Street, at 7pm.

Monday 17th October at The King’s Head from 5.30pm (immediately after the prizegiving and readings for Wells Litfest) the Fountain Poets’ Fringe Binge, with open-mic and two featured poets – “our” Michelle Diaz, the current Bard of Glastonbury, and Graeme Ryan from Fire River Poets with his fabulous new publication Valley of the Kings.

And finally, two big competitions …

The National Poetry Competition 2022 is now open for entries from all poets worldwide aged 18+, deadline 31 October 2022 – enter here.

The competition is judged by Greta Stoddart, Jason Allen-Paisant and Michael Symmons Roberts. 


troubadour international poetry prize 2022

judged by joshua bennett & victoria kennefick

  • first prize £2,000
  • second prize £1,000
  • third prize £500
  • plus 20 commendeds
  • plus – winners read with judges at 2022 prize-night celebration on mon 5 dec

submit via email by mon 26 sep 2022

www.coffeehousepoetry.org/prizes

(Check out winners, winning poems & judges’ reports, 2021 & prior, on our previous-winners’-poems page.)

judges

  • Victoria Kennefick lives in County Kerry, studied at University College Cork, then at Emory University, & Georgia College & State University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship, co-hosts the Unlaunched Books Podcast & is a Listowel Writers Week committee-member. Her 2021 collection Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet) was a ‘best poetry book of the year’ in both Telegraph & Irish Times, in addition to being shortlisted for the 2021 TS Eliot Prize.
  • Joshua Bennett has read at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama, is Professor of English & Creative Writing at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, & author of Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man (Harvard, 2020) & Spoken Word: A Cultural History (forthcoming from Knopf). His poetry collections are The Sobbing School (2016, a National Poetry Series Selection & NAACP Image Award finalist), Owed (2020) & The Study of Human Life (publ. Sep 2022), all from Penguin.

judges read all poems submitted

rules

  • 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 poems@coffeehousepoetry.org; 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); pay online at www.coffeehousepoetry.org/prizes (PayPal account not required).
  • Timeline: Submit by midnight (your local time) on Mon 26 Sep 2022; prize-winners will be contacted in week commencing Mon 21 Nov 2022.
  • Acknowledgement/Results: Submissions acknowledged within 14 days of receipt; results posted on website after our Mon 5 Dec 2022 prize-night event; judges’ decision is final; no correspondence entered into.
  • Email Address: By including email address you agree to receiving emails regarding annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize.

Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2022

Judged by Joshua Bennett & Victoria Kennefick: details here.
 
first prize £2,000
second prize £1,000
third prize £500
plus 20 commendeds
plus all winners read with judges at 2022 prize-night celebration on Mon 5 Dec
 
submit via email by Mon 26 Sep 2022
 
(Check out winners, winning poems & judges’ reports, 2021 & prior, on our previous-winners’ poems page.)
 
judges
 

  • Victoria Kennefick lives in County Kerry, studied at University College Cork, then at Emory University, & Georgia College & State University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship, co-hosts the Unlaunched Books Podcast & is a Listowel Writers Week committee-member. Her 2021 collection Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet) was a ‘best poetry book of the year’ in both Telegraph & Irish Times, in addition to being shortlisted for the 2021 TS Eliot Prize.
  • Joshua Bennett has read at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama, is Professor of English & Creative Writing at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, & author of Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man (Harvard, 2020) & Spoken Word: A Cultural History (forthcoming from Knopf). His poetry collections are The Sobbing School (2016, a National Poetry Series Selection & NAACP Image Award finalist), Owed (2020) & The Study of Human Life (publ. Sep 2022), all from Penguin.

 
judges read all poems submitted  

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 https://livecanon.submittable.com/submit

Closing at midnight on Monday 4th July: Coverstory. Details here https://coverstorybooks.com/2022/04/19/coverstory-books-2022-international-poetry-competition/?fbclid=IwAR07HfoeolB961aUpjv9X8jLc8N3BUPiRKA_Pm1tFRVns2X5RlPU3nj-VDc  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
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

Time to harness your poems to the Plough?

The Plough Prize for Poetry – 2022

INTERNATIONAL POETRY COMPETITION

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  https://www.theploughartscentre.org.uk/poetry-prize  for further information on the competition, rules and how to enter.

The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Devon.

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: https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flivecanon.submittable.com%2Fsubmit&data=04%7C01%7C%7C263d5f1075004f086ceb08d8ee0dead2%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637521090830812427%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=DJ9zTMy3U7AiS%2BYGgsSDOSHHpmlDUazk1cCP51mJ2JA%3D&reserved=0

And more about Live Canon in general is on our website:
https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.livecanon.co.uk%2F&data=04%7C01%7C%7C263d5f1075004f086ceb08d8ee0dead2%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637521090830822387%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=VIMz9C72uzmU1Ov8Zvzwh%2BpN5RSGuf0ul0fXXCl4REo%3D&reserved=0

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 poetrysociety.org.uk/npc.

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.

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

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

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

William Stafford

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

judges

  • 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

rules

  • 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 poems@coffeehousepoetry.org; 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 www.coffeehousepoetry.org/prizes, 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.)

Some (good) news at last

Hello again. I hope you’re well, and writing.

A few Wells Fountain Poets (Andrew Henon, Mo Kiziewicz, Rachael Clyne, David Niven, David Ketelby and me, Ama Bolton) have been invited to contribute to next month’s Bridgwater Quayside virtual Festival (17-19 July). Another of our members, storyteller Beth Webb, will be contributing separately. Here is a preview of Andrew’s timely and powerful video-poem. Andrew is also participating in the Somerset Film project Hello World, and I urge you to watch the interview and two of his short video-poems on their website.

We have had to cancel our April, May and June meetings and will not be meeting in July or August, but I hope to be able to re-book all the cancelled guest poets next year.

Just a quick reminder of some competitions closing soon: Wells Litfest competition closes 30th June, Penfro Festival Competition closes 1st July, Ledbury Festival competition closes 16th July and Winchester Poetry Prize closes 31st July. Many more on the Poetry Kit website.

“It is the task of a lifetime. You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.” – Anne Carson on writing poetry