Don't leave it too late! It's deadline day to enter Write Out Loud's Beyond the Storm poetry competition
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.
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."
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.
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.
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Call to action:
Why not write a poem for Beyond the storm poetry competition supporting NHS Charities Together Covid-19 urgent appeal?
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Competition page: https://www.writeoutloud.net/beyondthestorm
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