Here is some good advice to think about before sending in your poem to our competition

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Here are a few tips to consider before entering Write Out Loud’s Beyond the Storm poetry competition:

Patience Agbabi, writing last year about the Marsden the Poetry Village competition, which had the theme ‘Together’, warned that many of the poems she saw “read like chopped up prose, the free verse lacking the tension that comes from rigorous editing, deft line-breaks, a unique turn of phrase. With more time, those poems would have fizzed with the linguistic intensity and vision to elevate the material from a private experience to a successful public poem.”

She also praised the use of form, such as sonnets, saying:  “Form is a great way to harness strong emotions, to keep sentimentality in check.”

The question of titles is another important aspect to think about, she said. “There were many titles that were first lines or didn't add anything to the poem, working titles that needed to be edited, work harder, yield more. Again, the perfect title would have come with time. There were poems that would have been longlisted were it not for major punctuation issues and poems with a deliberate lack of commas or full stops that made them challenging to read. Humour was rare - so very welcome when encountered.”

All important points worth considering before submitting your entry.

Serial poetry competition winner John Foggin once devoted an entire Write Out Loud blog to the subject. You need to read the blog to get the full flavour, but here are just some of his tips:

1) The importance of first lines, to grab the attention.

2) Endings. “I like to know that a poem’s finished,” says John.

3) Things to avoid: “I can’t be doing with pretentiousness or sentimentality or ego, or writing that’s out to impress,” says John. “This is not the same as being esoteric, or having a wide range of reference, or writing poetry that expects the reader to do a bit of work to follow an allusion or reference. It’s just that if it looks hard, you’re not trying hard enough.”

It’s worth repeating that the theme of the Write Out Loud Beyond the Storm competition is as much about what is happening now during lockdown, as it is about what may happen in the future.

And after you’ve considered all the above, it’s down to our award-winning judge, Andrew McMillan. So remember his words most of all: “Poetry has a unique ability to reflect on what is happening now but also imagine a different world which might emerge. Be bold and be brave.”


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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◄ Blood Rain: André Mangeot, Seren

Elvis McGonagall, Teddington, 2014 ►


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