Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Poems for Boxing Day:

a song to christmas

time to don the hats and wrap around the scarves
the trees are decorated with the glow of balls and stars
the traffic is a bumping up with buses and with cars
            and it’s time to go shopping once again


oh it’s time to go shopping
and everyone’s dropping
yes it’s time to go shopping
once again

the trees are decorated with the glow of balls and stars
the carolers are knocking doors with sounds of la la la’s
the santa in his grotto is laughing (ha ha ha’s)
            and it’s time to go shopping once again

the traffic is a bumping up with buses and with cars
the toys wrapped up so quickly (and batteries for all parts?)
the drunks are getting drunker in the pubs and in the bars (hic)
            and it’s time to go shopping once again


Dave Wood

Chris Sims

Happy Christmas,

More poetry throughout today:

So much depends

a green wheelbarrow

freighted with 

beside the brown 

© Louise Green

© Paul Green

                                   ARCTIC TREES

                                    silver birch
                                    as Finns
                                    rows of iced
                                    Folies Bergeres
                                    ostrich feathers                       
                                    every breath
                                    on pause       


Poem and image - Margaret Eddershaw

Monday, 24 December 2012

Poetry Space Christmas poems and reflections

At this time of year busy as it is I like to find time for some personal reflection of all that is good about this time of year for a non- believer like myself.

I like the connecting side of Christmas, spending time with family and dear friends, closing the doors, sitting rather too close to the fire and sharing memories, anecdotes and the occasional poems with everyone. I know there will be laughter, probably some tears as we remember the people no longer with us to share the fun and the warmth. I like also to think of people who may be spending this time alone and when the doors of the shops and cafes close find themselves without anyone to talk to.

It has become a tradition of Poetry Space to invite poems from Poetry Space supporters and others who have not visited before to be shared on this blog and I hope that over the next few days you'll send some in if you haven't already to be featured here.

I'll start everyone off with one from Mike Lee and add to it as the Christmas period progresses:

Home or Away?

At Yule, like the Magi, we three travellers usually fly far away
to distant lands. This year, we journeyed north through spray
and murk along a grumbling seasonal motorway,
resolved to try out Scotland’s ski-side slopes. 

Like Mr Toad we headed for freedom on an open snowy Highland
road and didn’t see the ice. Felt helpless as we slid and ended upside
down in frozen bracken. Powerless and peckish, we dined on left-over
picnic-crusts until a farmer’s chugging antique tractor towed us out.
“Welcome to our Highland Christmas. Everything is on the ‘hoose’,”
he said. So, while the local garage fixed our car, some thirty miles
away, we helped out with farm-yard chores and discovered that
counting sheep’s a routine day-time task, for some,
©Chris Sims

and mucking-out and milking can be much better fun
than accruing bumps and bruises on the piste-runs.

Driving south, along a January-salted motorway, it dawned on all
of us: instead of finding Santa on his camel at the swimming pool,
we’d stumbled, quite by chance, upon the real story with some
worldly angels, a star, a shepherd-innkeeper and a whole array
of beasts - including a donkey and a flock of sheep. So, next time
we’ll choose to stay at home with friends for both Yule and Hogmanay.  

© Mike Lee

Thanks Mike, Happy Christmas.


And this year will it all be the same?
Grey rain. Slow, dark days.
Too much to eat and drink.
Too much, then too little, to do.
In this hiatus between manic cold wet December
and miserable colder wetter January
will I find the space to cast off weariness
and mark another year lived and learned from?
Will I be able to sleep deeply and dream contentedly?
Will I find fellow-feeling with friends and family
both near and far?
Will we be warm and welcoming;
will we sing and dance and celebrate?
Yes – for I know that I love
and am loved; and this is the light.
This is the light that we create for ourselves
in the darkest of times, however heavy the heart.
So yes, I answer myself. Yes!
This year, it will all be the same.

 © Jo Waterworth

Thanks Jo, for your poem
and good wishes.
Susan Jane Sims

Monday, 3 December 2012

Read a poem, write a poem - Moira Andrew

Well, it’s not as easy as all that – there’s a lot more to writing a poem, as I know to my cost.  The poet Wes Magee has said, Poetry is two four-letter words – HARD WORK!  But one thing is sure, the more a poet reads, the more successful the subsequent writing becomes. 

Photo by Kate Blair
It’s true that we poets have a compulsion to write, stimulated often by the most unlikely things – a flower lighting up the border in winter, a scrap of overheard dialogue, an unbidden memory that makes you catch your breath, the smell of cinnamon … you never know where a poem is lurking. 

And then there is the whole therapeutic reason for writing, words really can bring wellbeing.  Poets write of their loss when someone they love has died, exploring loneliness, grief, anger, uncertainty.  Some of our best and most direct work comes as a by-product of deepest grief.  To quote Michael Rosen, A poem is the best way of saying big things in small spaces.

But poets shouldn’t simply write – to develop our skills we need to read – and to read widely.  No use saying, I’ve done all that – I read Wordsworth and Shakespeare at school.  We’ve all been there.  We keep the work of the traditional poets under our belts, often unaware of the debt we owe them.

No, I’m talking about contemporary poets.  As writers living in today’s world, we need to speak and write in today’s language.  If you go on an Arvon course, the first questions you’re asked, even before the tutor has opened your folder, are What do you read?  Who is your favourite poet?  Why do you like his/her work?

The tutors recognise that poets need to be able to hear the rhythms in contemporary poetry, the way dialogue is used, the various patterns created on a page.  But what about traditional punctuation? I’m asked, when readers are initially floored by seeing verses in lower case or dialogue in italics.  That’s not a problem.  No poet is forced to drop capitals or formal poetic structures – it’s just that sometimes a modern poem reads better that way!

Keep a notebook, all you would-be poets.  Write down scraps of ideas, dreams, quotes … but more importantly, read as much as you can lay hands on of contemporary poetry.  You won’t like all you read, but you can begin to make comparisons and rate different poets in your own private ‘poetometer’.

Photo by Chris Sims

Then experiment by trying different subjects, new ways of placing your words on the page, rhyming and non-rhyming, circular poems, shape poems, riddles, conversations, narrative – your own version of a sonnet.

Explore, invent, cross out, reinvent – experiment with different styles, a different pace.  Occasionally you might see what happens if your try a ‘copycat’ poem, changing ‘Prayer to the sun’ to ‘Prayer to the moon’, adding your own take on the original.  Try using a phrase from an existing poem as a title of a new poem – and see where it takes you.

Photo by Susan Jane Sims

Above all, put down your pen, switch off the computer and spend time reading poetry collections, magazines, anthologies.  You will be surprised at the riches you’ll find – but more to the point, your own poetry will come on by leaps and bounds. Read a poem, write a poem that’s my motto!

Moira Andrew November 2012

Moira Andrew has been writing poetry for children and adults since the 1980's. In the past year she has had two collections published: Firebird (Indigo Dreams Publishing) and Wish a Wish, published by Poetry Space Ltd. 

Wish a Wish, Moira's collection for children, illustrated  by Anna Popescu is available in Poetry Space Online Shop at £5.99

Monday, 19 November 2012


“A single walker, stepping into the procession of language.” Seamus Heaney

When I was a child of three an older brother, in trying to teach me French, Spanish and Greek, introduced me to the pleasure in the sounds of other languages, without understanding meaning. From an early age accents and dialects fascinated me, whether the rough burr of farmers at an Ulverston auction market, or the lilt and fall of family-visiting Irish, Polish, Italian and American relatives in Cleator Moor and Whitehaven, mingling with west Cumbrian dialect and its why-use-two-syllables-when-three-can-make-a-word-into-a-song? For example, to-o-wast, for toast, or dad’s ‘Ista-ga’in tae Gaa-ity tae blaw tha’ nowuz an’ mak’ a scuttle?’ Meaning, ‘Are you going to the Gaiety Picture House in order to blow your nose and make a noise? The delight in the rhythm of people’s voices is to me something that connects us through, as Robert Pinsky notes, a ‘column of air inside the chest’.

An intensely remembered childhood moment is of writing my first poem after I had became mesmerised by the wind-swaying branches of two silver birches in Bardsea Wood, feeling that if I let go I would become part of them. Years later I discovered Robert Frost’s poem ‘Birches’ and was struck by the similarity between my experience and how Frost described it in his poem. I, too, became “a swinger of birches.” As a child I only dimly understood that it was a seminal moment in my life. What did the experience mean? How could I ‘become part of the birches’? It was an experience that propelled me into wanting to gain an insight into this kind of imaginative encounter. It’s been an itch to be scratched, a mystery to be solved, a ‘something’ I need to address. It’s a lifelong quest and one way I felt it could be understood was through poetry.

Mind you, I always thought you had to be clever to write poetry and go to Oxford or Cambridge University – poetry wasn’t for me! However, after years of working at a variety of office jobs and encouraged by my husband Geoff, I finally plucked up confidence, took the plunge and did a degree titled Imaginative Writing/Literature, Life and Thought thinking ‘well, if I’m useless at poetry, surely I can write an essay!’ To my delight I fell into poetry and came away at the age of 44 with a degree. That was it; I was Paul on the Road to Damascus! Even more so when I went on a life-changing writing course at Ty Newydd, titled ‘Poetry, Healing and Meaning’ co-run by Rose Flint and David Hart, where I discovered that creative writing could be used in a therapeutic way. The light of realisation that yes THIS is what I want to do, use poetry/creative writing to help understand each other and our connections with the world, human and non-human, burns more fiercely than ever.


Geraldine Green gained a PhD in Creative Writing Poetry and an MA Creative Writing Poetry (Distinction) through Lancaster University; a BA Joint Hons (First) and a Research Diploma in Ecopoetics at Liverpool John Moores University. She is a freelance creative writing tutor, mentor, visiting lecturer at the University of Cumbria and an associate editor of online magazine Poetry Bay

Her collections are The Skin and Passio Flarestack Pubications, Poems of a Mole Catcher’s Daughter Palores Publications and The Other Side of the Bridge by Indigo Dreams. Geraldine was a contributor to a book on therapeutic writing titled Writing Works: A Resource Handbook for Therapeutic Writing Workshops and Activities published by Jessica Kingsley. Her next collection, Salt Road will be published in summer 2013, also by Indigo Dreams.

Geraldine’s poetry has been widely anthologised in the UK, USA and Italy and translated into Greek, German and Romanian. She frequently performs her poetry in the USA.  In 2005 two of her poems ‘Green Lizards’ and ‘Early Morning Prayer’ were highly commended by Judge Penelope Shuttle in the Poetry on the Lake Competition, Orta Italy. She’s a member of Lapidus UK and Lapidus North West.

You can find information on her recent collection here:

and find out more about her here:
Poetry pf

Enter Poetry Space Competition 2013 Just £5 per poem. First Prize £250. All placed and short listed poets will have their poems in the prizewinners' anthology.

The 2012 prize anthology will be available shortly.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Preparing to be changed: Some thoughts on judging Poetry Space Competition 2013

The fourth annual International Poetry Space Competition is opening for entries on Thursday November 1st. Ahead of this I asked our judge, poet Martyn Crucefix tell us a little about what he is hoping for from the competition entries.

To enter go to Poetry Space Competition

Preparing to be changed: some thoughts on judging the Poetry Space competition 2013

In the 2003 comedy film Bruce Almighty, Jim Carey plays God and, along with more obviously useful powers, he has to respond to the prayers of the world. But people are always praying; he rapidly approaches a kind of madness as voices swim around him, clamouring for attention. He takes to reading the prayers in the form of e-mails. He tries to answer them individually but is receiving them faster than he can respond. He sets his e-mail account to automatically answer "yes" to all, assuming this will make everybody happy. Of course, it does not.

A poetry competition judge comparing himself to a character playing God may be justly criticised – but I have in the past found the initial phases of judging rather like Jim Carey’s experience. There are so many and such a variety of voices clamouring to be heard and every one of them is heart-felt, recording significant moments in people’s lives. There is a similar sense of responsibility too – the raw nature of much of the writing is impossible to deny. I’d like to set my response mechanism to say yes to everybody, but the judge’s task has to be how to distinguish submissions as poetry.

I am interested in how a poem uses its own shape – not necessarily any regular or traditional form, but how its lines break, how the rhythms are sustained. There are always poems submitted that attempt a formal type of verse-making but this ought not to be allowed to tyrannise meaning with the demands of a rhyme scheme. It’s always good to ponder Wordsworth’s formulation – familiar though it may feel – that poetry is built from “emotion recollected in tranquillity”. Poems made in the heat of the moment (and not revised and reviewed) are seldom without their flaws. On the other hand, such recollection can sometimes create an intellectualised distance that may do harm to a good poem. But who said this art was an easy one?

Personally, I like poems that focus on small things and, in effect, make arguments for the ways in which they communicate the bigger issues that concern us all. I’m with Thomas Hardy in believing that “he used to notice such things” is one of the greatest of compliments. Edward Thomas’ poem about Spring, ‘But these things also’, likewise echoes this focus on what most people tend to overlook:

The shell of a little snail bleached
In the grass; chip of flint, and mite
Of chalk; and the small birds' dung
In splashes of purest white . . .

But having said all this, I can assure potential competition entrants that anything resembling a rule is there to be broken: any poem in any form can work its magic. It will haunt its reader for days; make me change the way I think and feel; make me see the world differently. Ultimately, a poem contributes to who the reader is becoming. That is an exciting prospect for the writer. I assure you it is an even more exciting one for the judge who settles down to read it.

Martyn Crucefix
October 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Poetry Space Competition 2012 - The Results

Judge : Cheryl Moskowitz

First Prize: Karen Harvey
Second Prize: Julia O'Brien
Third Prize: David Mark Williams

Highly Commended:
A Voice From England - Peter Gillott
Gorilla - David C. Johnson
Encounter at the Tea Tent - Diane Jackman
Early Flowering - Julia McGuiness
Night Ride - Carolyn O'Connell
Ana's View - Margaret Eddershaw
John - in Memoriam - Susan Latimer

Also for inclusion in the anthology:
Not Gilbert's - Misha Carder
Criminal Record - George Stein
How You See - Julia O'Brien
Midnight Encounters - Mike Lee
Poker Man - Julia O'Brien
Ashes and Cries are Much the Same - Judy Dinnen
Dreams of Dead Woman's Handbags - Johanna Boal
Skin of My Skin - Julia O'Brien
Butterfly Blood - Gwen Seabourne
Narcissus at the Window - Margaret Eddershaw

The above poems will be published in Words that Signify: Poems from Poetry Space Competition 2012 edited by Susan Jane Sims. Publication date: November 2012.

The top three winning poems:



Frantically he searched their hotel
room but he couldn’t find her
even though the door was
locked on the inside.

He ran out onto the balcony peering
through the darkness at the next,
wondering if she had jumped ship.

If only he’d looked up,
he might have noticed
one small white feather
sashaying earthward.


Later, after many phone calls
and hours of pacing the floor
he slumped into a deep sleep.

Had he still been awake
as the sun rose
he would have heard the flutter
as she returned and
perched on the hand rail.

© Karen Harvey


Squatting alone on a jut in the bay,
you select the oldest,
the one whose rough crust
displays a range of blue hues
rich as the Ming in your grandmother’s cabinet.

Wrenched from its clump with a swift twist,
you grip the mussel, crab-like,
eye only for this activity,
ear full of sea waves,
scrunch of rock on shell.

How it would spit its salt juice on impact,
how there was a kind of satisfaction
in the sensation of being sprayed in this way,
you could never have thought
of putting into words

until now.
Sometimes it’s a tough business
to prize the wings apart:
the animal still bound at the tip
of its lip by a clutch of seaweed beard.

In this sunset flesh feels warmer
than the finger which strokes,
searches - each time a held breath -
for the grit of a sea pearl.
Each time a winner.

Dead shell flicked into black water,
you study your booty from this angle, that.
Much later, you’ll trek through the bracken
back up the hill to the jingle
of pearls in your pocket.

© Julia O’Brien

The Hidden Boy

In this picture, there is a hidden boy.
You will have to look closely to see him.

His ghostly outline is faded into a huddle of gorse bushes,
where he crouches, watching whatever unfolds
as though on a small screen, his eyes yellow petals,
his skin a burr of thorns.

He can remain like this for hours,
pleased to be as silent as wood or stone,
sustained on the scent of coconut.

The family eating their picnic on the grass
are unaware they are being watched.
Their eyes are fixed on the fine view,
the estuary spread below them.

The boy records everything they do,
the loud food they stuff their faces with,
their incessant, breezy chatter.

When they have gone, leaving their litter,
a vacuum of quiet, he will come out of hiding,
his see through bones showing  only a clear sky,
his mouth clamped tight on a blue tongue.

© David Mark Willams

Reactions from our top three prizewinners on their success:

"I met Sue several years ago on a writing retreat and I have enjoyed following Poetry Space from the outset, so I was absolutely over the moon to hear that I had come first in the Poetry Space competition this year." Karen Harvey

"A generous prize, publication online and in print: this is a wonderful surprise, an honour and an encouraging affirmation of my sometimes-fragile writerly self. A big thank you to Poetry Space, and to Cheryl for selecting my poem." Julia O'Brien

"That's such wonderful news. I am absolutely delighted.  It's this kind of recognition that helps to keep one going". David Mark Williams

Judging Overview and Report –

What a privilege, and pleasure, this business of judging a poetry competition! It’s impossible to resist that initial urge to tear open the package of entries and do everything in a rush. Skim the titles, gallop too fast past an extraordinary range of images, thoughts and ideas. But then there is the settling in for the long slow consideration and time taken to simply to bask in the wonder of the human mind and its capacity to find endlessly ways of crafting a few words to convey important truths and feelings, so often with a delicious sense of surprise, beauty and humour. I read and re-read each and every poem, both silently and aloud.  I paused in the process to allow each poem to penetrate in the way that it might. I set them aside to see what lingered. Navigating through the pile again it was easier to see which poems called me back, refusing to be discarded.

For this year’s Poetry Space Competition there were many wonderful poems written on time-honoured subjects: love, loss, war, animals, nature, relationships, the changing seasons, as well as poems dealing with more quintessentially modern or unusual themes: DNA, redundancy, TV chefs, Disneyland parades, the wonders of tomatoes, mangoes as the object of original sin and temptation in the form of banoffee pie. Not surprisingly, with the kind of weather that has dominated a good deal of 2012 in this part of the globe, there were also plenty of poems that featured rain.

Ultimately, the poems that impressed me the most were those that dealt with their subjects, however common or unusual, in unexpected ways. Though many of the poems dealt with difficult subject matter and highly complex themes I came to most admire poems that found ways to express meaning with the clearest and simplest of language.

Amongst the highly commended, two of the poems featured women driving cars. ‘Ana’s View’ is a beautiful portrait of a woman whose tired cancer-ridden body has come to mirror the aged rust-afflicted red Fiat car that she loves. Their final parting at a favourite seaside destination is a powerful and moving demonstration of letting go. In ‘Night Ride’ there is a different kind of vulnerability as a pregnant woman drives through a blizzard to make it home. I liked both ‘Gorilla’, a clever critique on the perils of rhyme, and ‘Encounter at the tea tent’ which pokes fun at the British tendency for caricaturizing clergy, for their wryness and wit. To write an elegy that works convincingly without gushing is one of the hardest things to do in poetry. ‘A Voice from England’ and ‘John – In Memorium’ both succeed exceedingly well in this respect. The former, written in the voice of a young WWII soldier returning home on hearing news of his mother’s death, manages to combine a conversational tone with some quite formal poetic imagery which feels absolutely right for the subject and period it is written about. ‘John – In Memorium’ written about the poet’s brother, is a tenderly drawn portrait of sibling relationships and childhood memories which uses humour to good effect. And finally, ‘Early Flowering’, is a sonnet which uses its form and language extremely well to paint a picture of hope and success that is dashed by disappointment and the pain of redundancy.     

Though quite varied in their subject matter, the three winning poems all share a ghostly quality. They are poems that leave a trace of themselves behind after reading. There was something discomforting and unnerving about all of these poems and that is what made them strong. A good poem should attach itself to the reader, get under the skin, and connect to partly known or remembered experiences.  A good poem has you nodding or sighing in such a way that says ‘Ah yes, I knew that!’ even when the poem is about something you might never even have dreamt of before.

In third place, ‘The Hidden Boy’ is a deliciously mysterious poem that somehow manages to be delightful and heartbreaking all at the same time.  On the surface it is simply a poem about a photograph, one of those pictures that, if you look closely enough at, suggest things are present that might not really be there. In this picture a family is having a picnic, that is clear, but there is some kind of trick of light perhaps, a ghostly outline that is faded into a huddle of gorse bushes that seems to be a boy watching them. Within this impressively spare and held back narrative the poet lets us know that both the boy and the group he is watching are, or should be, related but will always be at a distance.    

Second prize goes to ‘Mussel’, a visceral poem with real muscle that describes the finding and opening of this shelled sea creature, but does so much more than that. For me what makes this an expansive poem, one that is much larger than the subject matter itself, is the way that discovering and getting inside the mussel seems to work as a metaphor for childhood, loss of innocence, maturity and growth. The whole of life is contained here in the Ming in your grandmother’s cabinetscrunch of rock on shell… the jingle of pearls in your pocket.

And finally, ‘Missing’, the first prize winner, is a deceptively brief poem written in two parts. It looks wispy, even inconsequential, on the page because of its brevity perhaps, or because it is split in two or maybe something to do with the quality of the title, but reading it leaves one with a deep and inescapable sense of longing and regret. Something or someone is missing, as the title suggests, but we can’t quite decide whether it is a person, a lover or maybe just a bird that has flown.  There is a breathlessness and an urgency in the language, Frantically he searched their hotel… If only he’d looked up… Had he still been awake… he would have heard... The overall effect is one of a beautiful sadness, a feeling of having loved and lost, and the image at the end of the first part is one that, so simple and perfectly realized, will never leave me - one small white feather/sashaying earthward.

Cheryl Moskowitz, August 2012

Warmest thanks to everyone who entered this year. Poetry Space Competition 2013 will be judged by Martyn Crucefix and will open for entries on November 1st 2012. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Competition update

Poetry Space Competition 2012 closed at midnight on June 30th.

 Winners will be notified in the last week of August and the results published on this blog and at www.poetryspace.co.uk

Thanks to everyone who entered. We had well over 100 entries from the UK and overseas.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Who reads poetry? by Philip Lyons

Who reads poetry? I guess you do or else why would you be looking at the Poetry Space website? Perhaps you write the stuff too and are keen to find somewhere that will publish your work. There are many of us in the same boat, expressing ourselves in verse and reaching out to an audience that doesn’t appear to be that interested. If so many people admit to turning their hand to writing poetry, especially when faced with an emotional crisis or a significant event in their lives, why aren’t more people reading it?

I occasionally run writing workshops and I remember one participant telling the group that she didn’t read anyone else’s poetry because she didn’t want it to influence her own. But it’s precisely through reading poetry by other people that we learn about the craft and about the range of possibilities that the form offers. I am proud of my influences – George Herbert, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin, Tony Harrison, to name just a few – even as they look over my shoulder while I’m writing and tut when I settle for a cliché or an easy rhyme.

Poetry exists because there is a tradition, and each time we sit down to write a new poem we are drawing on that tradition, whether we choose to emulate, challenge or disparage it. I only know what poetry is from reading it. I get as much pleasure from reading a good poem as I do from trying to write one, but how do I decide that it’s good? Not because the critics tell me it is, that’s for sure. I recently had a stab at reading a highly-acclaimed first collection by a rising star and felt both unmoved and frustrated, unmoved because a certain coldness seemed to permeate the language and frustrated because the poems were scattered with abstruse references that even the notes didn’t really illuminate.

If that collection could be said to represent the zenith of contemporary poetry, perhaps that’s why so few people are reading it. I don’t want to get into an argument about elitism versus inclusiveness, but in spite of being educated to a high level I struggle when I leaf through the slim volumes in the poetry section of a bookshop (the section itself getting ever slimmer) to find anything I want to read. At the risk of turning this into a manifesto for my own work, I write what might be described as middlebrow poetry, written to appeal to the same literate public that enjoys reading novels by Nick Hornby or Anne Tyler, say, and watching episodes of Frasier on television. If more of this kind of poetry was made available and promoted – and I know it’s being written by plenty of poets other than me – I am confident more people would read poetry, as something that gives pleasure or that speaks to the heart, and not something to turn to only when someone gets married or dies. 

Philip Lyons April 2012

Philip's first full collection Like It Is  is published by Poetry Space Ltd and available from

Saturday, 24 March 2012

To Pay or Not to Pay and Considering Payback - Anne Stewart

I’m not entering competitions, it’s just a lottery. The winning poems aren’t usually much good. And why should I pay to have my work accepted?

Yes, I’ve heard all that. But isn’t it a lottery going in with another thousand poems to an editor? It won’t be the first published poem that’s below par because ‘merit’ has skipped the equation. And aren’t there poets who subscribe to journals in hopes of increasing their chances of selection?

We pursue publication for one reason only. We want to get our poetry out there. ‘Competition’ poetry organisations need our support as much as magazines do, so why not widen our targets and opportunities?

The ‘successful’ list in competitions is very short. It ought to speak as highly (more perhaps?) of those poets as magazine publication does. Submissions are anonymous, so poems are most definitely being considered only on their merit. Your reward may be simply a mention in dispatches but, more commonly, the work is published and offers a reading. You may even cover your costs. At best, you may earn some real income... and, if it’s one of the prestigious nationals (congratulations!), a boost in awareness of your work that’s hard to achieve otherwise.

When I won the Bridport Prize (and excluding ARTEMISpoetry, who ‘wrote it large’ – thank you!), there was a disconcerting silence in the poetry press, which I believe is unusual. Even then, after a few months, invitations arrived to run workshops, give readings, and judge a fledgling poetry competition.
When I won the Southport Poetry Competition, it came with an invitation to read in Merseyside where, probably, no one had ever heard of me.

And a long-listing in the National Poetry Competition? Well, I guess I’m about to find out.

Anne Stewart

Anne Stewart is the founder of www.poetrypf.co.uk and Administrator of Second Light, a network of women poets. Her first collection, The Janus Hour, was published in 2010 by Oversteps Books. She is co-editor of five issues of Second Light’s ARTEMISpoetry.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Poetry Space events coming up

A few Poetry Space events to draw your attention to early in 2012:

·        Poetry Space at The Poetry Cafe on Saturday 4th February from 7 till 10pm.
This will include readings from Both Derek Adams (winning poet in PS competition 2011) Beverley Ferguson, winning poet in PS competition 2010), Mike Lee (2nd place      in comp. 10), Rose Flint, our judge from 2011, David R. Morgan and lots of other voices from the floor. I’d love to hear from you if you would like to come along.
Copies of Poetry Space Books will be on sale including our wonderful new Green Spaces anthology.

·        Finding A Voice: a Poetry Space Writing Day with Philip Lyons. Saturday March 10th, City of Bristol College, College Green Bristol 10am till 4pm.
           £30 if you book before January 31st plus a further discount if you are a Lapidus member or currently subscribe to Poetry Space Facebook group. Places limited to 14 in total.

·         Poetry Space Writing Retreat June 22nd to June 25th  (Friday evening till Monday morning)  at Coombe Farm Woodlands Trust, Tiverton Devon. £250 for three nights full board. No organised writing activities however participants are free to offer an activity for others. Places limited to 14 maximum (ten minimum) Some shared rooms. Swimming pool. 180 acres woodland.

Best wishes for a creative 2012,


Monday, 2 January 2012

Inspired by Nature - Juliet Wilson

I grew up in suburban Manchester and was always interested in nature. I was an avid birdwatcher from an early age, and took every opportunity to take up binoculars whether in the garden or on family holidays. My first published piece of writing was when I was nine and I had a very short piece about (for some reason!) penguins published in the hospital magazine when I was a patient for a month. I also had a piece in the local church magazine when I was a young teenager. However, apart from that, and although my English teacher always praised my work, it wasn't until I left University that I first started writing at all seriously. 

Soon after graduation I moved to Malaŵi for two years. The wonderful scenery and wildlife were totally inspiring and although I worked very hard as a teacher I found myself with plenty of spare time (and there was no such thing as TV in Malaŵi in those days). I naturally found myself using a fair amount of this time to write. 
My first published poetry pamphlet was Bougainvillea Dancing a collection mostly inspired by my time in Malaŵi, which raised money for charities working in Malaŵi.

I currently work as a part time adult education tutor, leading birdwatching walks and teaching creative writing. I also volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, which looks after one of Edinburgh's rivers. I walk along a stretch of the river every week, noting the wildlife and collecting litter. Every walk is different, I love watching the seasons change. The area I walk along is a real haven for wildlife, several species of bird live here and I sometimes see deer running beside the river (remember, this is not far from the centre of Edinburgh!). So as well as collecting litter, I always end up collecting inspiration for poetry! There's direct inspiration in terms of observing specific things that become a haiku for example or a short story. There's also indirect inspiration – just being out of doors, surrounded by nature is inspiring in itself. 

© Juliet Wilson

Juliet's poem Cows in Meadow Flowers is published in Green Spaces: Poems From Poetry Space Competition 2012. Buy it from Poetry Space Bookshop £4.95until January 31st (retail price £5.95) 

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