Helping the homeless: poetry contest that makes a difference

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There are just a couple of days left to enter a competition that is helping to keep open two London cold weather shelters in the Camden and King's Cross areas. In its first year the Lumen/Camden poetry competition attracted more than 1,000 entries, raising over £2,000. There are also regular open mics and poetry performances in the Lumen and Camden  venues where the homeless sleep during the cold weather, and where more money is raised.

The competition - deadline is Valentine's Day - also gives the winning poet a chance to publish their own short collection. The first year’s winner was Caroline Squire, and her short collection An Apple Tree Spouts Philosophy is now on sale, published by Ward Wood Publishing, with all £3 of the cover price going to the same charity.

The entry fee is £2.50 per poem (up to 40 lines) or £10 for six poems. The events and the competition are the brainchild of the poet Ruth O’Callaghan, who has been running the Lumen and Camden Poetry series of open mics and performances for five years. 

The open mic events are at 1 Buck Street, Camden, and 88 Tavistock Place, Kings Cross. You can enter by bringing poems to these events, posting them to Ruth O’Callaghan, or entering online on the competitions page of where you can also find more information.

Entry rules: The winner will have a collection of their poems published in a 20-page chapbook and will receive 50 copies of their collection delivered free within the UK and will be invited to read from their work at Camden and Lumen open mic events and Friday Night Writers in London. The winner will be selected on the basis of just one poem. Maximum length of each entry is 40 lines; all entries must be previously unpublished work; the entry fee is £2.50 per poem or £10 for six; closing date is 14 February 2012.

Payments: By post: Send your poems and a cheque (payable to Cold Weather Shelter) to Ruth O’Callaghan, 49 Ripley Gardens, Mortlake London, SW14 8HF. Online: Go to the Competitions page on . International entries are welcome.



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