Monday, 24 October 2011

The teacher who inspired me to write

Dear Miss Evans* was brought back from retirement or so we were told and she'd come into school looking like Enid Sharples from the Coronation Street of my childhood complete with charcoal grey hair and hairnet. She was quite small as I remember, kind but stern and could keep a class of lively eleven and twelve year olds totally absorbed and silent. She taught me how to write letters with all the correct endings, Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully... something I've never ever forgotten. 

That first year we read poems galore, Keat's Ode to Autumn with its magnificent first line Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness.. Blake's Tyger who's eyes drew me in and disturbed my dreams, Auden's Night Train, bringing its "letters for the rich and letters for the poor". She inspired us working class kids to compile our own anthologies, collecting poems we found in the school or public library or in dusty volumes we found in our attics, in newspapers and in magazines. We copied them out in our very best handwriting and decorated each page, with the felt tip pens we carried around in our pencil cases. Mine was orange, the pencil case that is, the anthology - a school exercise book, was covered by me with a sheet of wallpaper left over from Dad's decorating. I was especially proud of the "mitred corners" a technique I'd learnt from seeing my mother make curtains. 

Miss Evans also encouraged our own creativity and every week we'd write a poem or a story for homework. 

This early effort from me (below)  got a Good! in my composition book and Miss Evans read it out but kept my identity secret. That was her way of doing things. She wanted to encourage us but not make us susceptible to bullying. No one ever knew who had top marks and who came at the bottom. She was a true egalitarian.


Softly, silently drifting in the air
covering branches which once were bare.
Snowflakes all of which have a likeness,
Cover the earth with a dazzling brightness.

Morning is here, the children arise,
Eager faces and delight in their eyes.
On with their scarves and their boots and their macs
Soon great big snowmen spring up with black hats.

© Susan Miller  1971

(Susan Jane Sims)

If you had someone who inspired you to write please post a comment. I'd love to hear your stories. 

* Miss Evans is not the teacher's real name.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Competition Countdown

Poetry Space International Poetry Competition 2012 will open for entries on November 1st 2011.

Judge: Cheryl Moskowitz

The competition helps us to continue to provide our free and much acclaimed international poetry showcase at the Poetry Space website. This now gets over 2000 visitors each month and well over a 100 submissions. My co-editor Azadeh does a fantastic job in selecting the poems that go on here. She pairs them up with lovely images from great photographers and artists.

The competition also helps us to back poets who we feel deserve wider recognition like Philip Lyons and David R. Morgan who have had collections published this year with us.

£100 - First Prize, £50 second Prize, £25 third prize plus publication in the Competition anthology for the three major prize winners and up to 23 commended poets. All poets who subsequently appear in the anthology will get a free copy of the anthology.

Here are the rules for entering - not too many as I'm not keen on rules:

  • Poems of up to 40 lines will be accepted from anywhere in the world.
  • All poems will be judged anonymously and our judge will read up to 150 poems. If we get more entries than this a short list will be drawn up by an editorial panel.
  • Entry fee per poem £5. Enter as many as you wish with sufficient payment please.
  • Open to all over 16 when the competition ends on June 30th.
  • Poems must be previously unpublished and must not be in the process of being considered in any competition or by any editor - this includes printed and online publication.
  • No entry form required. If entering by e-mail just send name, address, telephone number and e-mail address and title of your poem as a word document and your poem as another word document. Don't put your name with the poem. Send to :
  • Entries by post to: Poetry Space Ltd, 21 Davis Close, Barrs Court Bristol BS30 7BU
  • Pay by Paypal at Poetry Space Competition from November 1st onwards. Closing date June 30th midnight.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Poetry Space Competition 2012

We are delighted that Cheryl Moskowitz (pictured above) has agreed to judge Poetry Space Competition 2012

Chicago born poet, playwright, storyteller and novelist Cheryl Moskowitz will be judging our third annual poetry competition. Cheryl's recent awards include: The Torbay Poetry Competition (2009), Bridport Prize (2010), the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (2010) and 2nd Prize in the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine (2011) Open Category.

We are thrilled to have Cheryl on board. The competition will be open for entries in November and will close on June 30th 2012. 

Entries will be accepted from anywhere in the world. No theme this time. This will be an "open" competition for all poets over 16.

For more about Cheryl go to

Ahead of our competition I asked David R.Morgan what inspires him to write? David is an award winning poet with many poems in print. His latest collection Beneath The Dreaming Tree is now available at Poetry Space Bookshop

See the comments below?