Don't leave it too late! It's deadline day to enter Write Out Loud's Beyond the Storm poetry competition

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It's deadline day in Write Out Loud's Beyond the Storm poetry competition in support of NHS Charities Together’s Covid-19 Urgent Appeal! You have until 11.59pm tonight to enter your poem or poems based on our competition theme of the pandemic, and what may lie beyond. Andrew McMillan, who is judging the Beyond the Storm competition, has issued a video message for last-minute entrants. He said: “I urge you to come up with a poetic response to lockdown, to the pandemic, to how your life’s been since all this started.” He went on to explain: “And it needn’t be anything dramatic, it needn’t be anything large, we want just everyday reactions to how it’s felt to live in this time. I just think that phrase Beyond the Storm is so important … because at some point this will pass, and at some point we’re going to need writers and poets like yourselves to help us rebuild. Stay well, and stay safe.”      

Unlike most poetry competitions, there will be no cash prizes for the winners. This is because the aim is to raise as much money as possible for the NHS Covid-19 appeal, which gives grants to enhance the well-being of NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients.

The money will be raised through competition entries and other donations, which are optional – but also essential! Selected poems will appear in a competition anthology. The deadline for entries to the competition is 19 June, and the winners will be announced on 8 August.

Andrew McMillan’s debut collection physical was the first poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book award. It also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection prize, a Somerset Maugham award (2016), an Eric Gregory award (2016) and a Northern Writers’ award (2014). In 2019 it was voted one of the top 25 poetry books of the past 25 years by the Booksellers Association. His second collection, playtime, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2018, and won the inaugural Polari prize. He is senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at MMU and lives in Manchester. The inclusion of a popular vote may come as a surprise, but Andrew McMillan said: “I want this to bring in serious, considered poetry, but also to have a broader, public appeal, to boost donations at this most critical time in NHS history.”

The first donation has been Andrew waiving his judge’s fee. Write Out Loud’s fundraising target is £10,000. The money will be sought via competition entries, the ‘People’s Vote’, online video views, and anthology sales.

Write Out Loud’s founder, Julian Jordon, said it was hoped that the anthology of winners and other top entries would “act as a valuable poetic record of what must be the strangest period in all of our lives to this point, and record our hopes for a better future, beyond the storm”.


And if you're still searching for inspiration to write something on our competition theme of life during the lockdown, and what's beyond, maybe we can help. A few weeks ago a poem was featured on Write Out Loud and other social media platforms, including YouTube, that made a worldwide impact – ‘In the time of quiet’ by Philippa Atkin. We have reproduced it in a video voiced by Casualty actors Gabriella Leon, Kirsty Mitchell and Olivia D'Lima who are supporting our competition to raise funds for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. 

At the time Philippa told Write Out Loud that “I have received contacts from France, Spain, Crete, Egypt, North America, Sydney, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, to name but a few. Almost every comment has stated that the poem is uplifting and by reminding people that nature prevails, they have been given hope.”

Write Out Loud’s Beyond the Storm poetry competition – for poems about the coronavirus lockdown and beyond - will be judged by award-winning poet Andrew McMillan and is supported by the BBC Casualty team, who will recite shortlisted entries on video for a special ‘People’s Vote’ category alongside the competition winners. We’re looking for poems about life under lockdown, and what the future may hold in the aftermath.

As Casualty returns to our screens, Write Out Loud is grateful for the support of BBC Casualty producer Dafydd Llewellyn and those actors, all poetry lovers, who are backing our competition to raise funds for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

embedded image from entry 101962 Gabriella Leon, pictured right, who plays Jade Lovell in the drama, is a deaf actor/writer and deviser seeking to change attitudes and misconceptions in the industry around disabilities, visible and invisible. She loves writing and reading poetry, especially the work of Sylvia Plath and Rupi Kaur. She said: "As part of this competition we will be reading some of the winning and commended poems on video, on the Write Out Loud website."

embedded image from entry 101961 Work by London-born Olivia D'Lima, pictured left, in theatre, film and TV has also led her to writing, which she finds to be an incredible creative outlet and way of creating more work within the industry. She co-founded 'PLUG IN', a bi-monthly comedy night where female and non-binary stand-ups, actors and poets can perform.

embedded image from entry 101963 Glasgow-born Kirsty Mitchell, pictured right, who plays Faith Cadogan, has a wealth of experience and awards as an actor, singer and vocal performer for video games. Her breakthrough acting performance was as Robert Duvall’s daughter in Shot at Glory (2000). She said: “We need your help, we need you to send in your poems, written about the time we are living in right now and what the future holds, and what the outcome might be. We need you to make a donation, [the NHS] is going through the toughest time it has ever seen.”


You may be wondering how the money we are raising from our Beyond the Storm poetry competition in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal will actually be spent. Below is a detailed summary from the organisation's own website. The answer is: providing somewhere comfortable so staff and volunteers can take a break, access to nutritious food and drink, use of electronic-tablets so patients, staff and volunteers can stay in contact with loved ones, and counselling support to protect mental health and help staff and volunteers process what they are dealing with. Some of the funding is also going towards helping partnerships outside hospitals, such as hospices, community healthcare and social care, making sure patients leaving hospital have access to the care they need to recover.   


Are you still mulling over the poem or poems that you plan to enter for Write Out Loud’s Beyond the Storm poetry competition, in aid of NHS staff? Have you kept in mind the importance of titles, first lines, and endings? These and other key points are included in a short guide that we have put together – based on the words of experts Patience Agbabi and John Foggin – in an article below.





embedded image from entry 102109 Call to action:

Why not write a poem for Beyond the storm poetry competition supporting NHS Charities Together Covid-19 urgent appeal?

Please share this on social media:

Competition page:

Just Giving Donation page:

Additional media information:

Other articles/homepage:

Social: #WOLBeyondTheStorm


Twitter: @WriteOut_Loud


Instagram: @_WriteOut_Loud





◄ Stockport Write Out Loud poets record eight weeks of lockdown in anthology

'We love you NHS': moving messages from donors on our fundraising JustGiving page ►


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Mon 15th Jun 2020 13:25

That's great Greg - I'll away to do some more editing then. I've shared this to FB as much as I can and regret not attending to it sooner now. I'm just delighted I've written something I can perform, regardless of whether it gets chosen!

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Greg Freeman

Mon 15th Jun 2020 10:20

Thanks very much for your query, Isobel. The answer is that we suggest a maximum of 15 words a line, although we will not disqualify a poem for having 40 long lines. If your poem is chosen for the anthology, we will consult with you about its final arrangement on the page. Hope that helps! Greg

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Sun 14th Jun 2020 22:02

I've just read the rules and it says no more than 40 standard lines, which is a bit of a blow as mine is far longer than that.

I tend to make my line breaks fit how I would perform the poem so the pauses mirror this. I suppose I could use punctuation and make the lines longer. Can you advise how long a standard line is?


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Sat 13th Jun 2020 20:28

Well - I am delighted to say that I've written a poem for this, which is great for me cos I don't write much nowadays.

It's hard not to have been affected by what we're all living through though and I do like the idea of a competition that benefits a good cause and isn't built on the back of ripping most contributors off.

I'm going to give myself one more day to edit it before i take the challenge of trying to donate...

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Greg Freeman

Tue 9th Jun 2020 19:38

The answer should be Yes, Martin. Very kind of you. Let us know if you have any problems, please!

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Martin Elder

Tue 9th Jun 2020 17:08

Hi Guys are we able to simply donate without submitting any poems?

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Paul Emberson

Tue 26th May 2020 21:15

Hi Dorinda,

Thank-you for offering to donate. You should be able to do it by visiting

The link had taken you to a log in page for JustGiving. We don't have any control over the login at that site so I can't help directly with the original question but if you use the above link, you shouldn't need to log in.


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Greg Freeman

Mon 25th May 2020 17:47

Hi Dorinda, sorry that you've been having these problems. Have passed on your query to our tech supremo Paul. Thanks for alerting us to this.

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dorinda macdowell

Mon 25th May 2020 16:29

I have submitted two poems for this competition.
However I am having problems trying to donate! The Just Giving site keeps asking me for my password - I have done this - they then ask me to enter my password and I keep doing this. Every time it comes back to the same box! I even tried "lost my password" box, but again I keep getting the box asking me for my password! I tried again and they said they would send me a new password, but they haven't, and I'm back to that box again!
I do want to give, so could anyone help please?
Thank you!

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