Two things caught my eye in the world of poetry this week:
Firstly, NASA is asking for Haiku to make a trip to the planet Mars. This is a real opportunity to get your poetry to a wider audience!
The spacecraft will launch in November to study the atmosphere on Mars. Three poets will have their haiku put on a DVD that will be placed in the craft. Everyone else that submits a haiku for inclusion will get their name included on the DVD.
“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
There is no entry fee (and no prize other than the honour of sending your work to Mars). Entrants must be 18 or over and all Haiku must be written in English. The deadline for submissions is 1st July 2013. From the 15th of July the public will vote for the three Haiku that will go off to the red planet. The winner will be announced on August 8th 2013.
Full details are available here.
Thanks to Nick Daws for bringing this opportunity to my attention.
Secondly, The Emma Press is now open to submissions for ‘The Emma Press Anthology of (Mildly) Erotic Verse’. This got my attention because I went to a workshop last week on writing erotic e-books. It was quite an eye-opener when we were told about the various different sub-genres in the market – or maybe I’ve just led a sheltered life!
But The Emma Press isn’t looking for anything explicit or hard-core. They say, “The erotic element of the poems can be as apparent or barely-there as you like, but the writing has got to tick all the boxes: metre, pace, form and language.”
It is envisaged that 15 poets will be included in the book and there will be a £25 advance for each poet.
Up to four poems can be submitted and there is no entry fee. But be quick – the deadline is 17th May 2013.
Full details are here.
Brian David has been in touch and asked me to tell you about the latest CheerReader short story competition.
First prize is 100 Euros. The winning story plus runners-up will be published on the CheerReader website.
1500 words maximum and the theme is ‘anything you like so long as it makes us laugh’.
Closing date is 31st March 2013 and there is an entry fee of 5 Euros.
The full rules are here and previous winning entries can be read here - and I’ve just noticed that Julia Thorley, who follows this blog, was ‘commended’ in the last CheerReader competition. Well done, Julia!
So, if you can write humour, pick up your pens now!
First prize is £1000 plus ‘the opportunity to give a reading at a high-profile poetry event at which the prize will be awarded’.
Closing date is 15th March 2013. Entrants must be over 18 and live in the UK. Full details are here.
Cannon Poets are once again running their ‘Sonnet or Not’ competition. You are invited to enter poems of 14 lines in length. The poem can be in a traditional sonnet form or you can experiment with alternative 14 line forms such as half rhyme or blank verse.
First prize is £300, second prize £150 and third prize £100. Entry is £4.00 for the first poem and £2.50 for each additional poem – there is no limit to the number of poems you can enter.
The judge is Julie Boden, who is currently Poet in Residence at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Closing date is 31 October 2012. Full details, including a downloadable entry form, are here.
Or, if you prefer flash fiction to poetry, pop over to Helen Yendall’s blog and read all about the free competition that she’s running.
- How To Write A Sonnet (mademan.com)
I also jotted down some ideas for short stories and I’m going to share them with you because I know that we’d all produce completely different tales (& submit them to different places) from the same initial prompt.
We stayed in Little Lilac Cottage - a tiny 350-year-old dwelling with a king-sized brass bed, a Victorian rolled top bath and open beams on the ceiling. Reading through the guest book I tried to imagine all the other visitors to this romantic cottage, why they came and whether the holiday lived up to expectations:
- Honeymooners – young or old? first or subsequent marriage?
- A couple having an affair – unused to spending so much time together, will they still get on or will guilt take over?
- A holiday to save a marriage – away from it all, can they get their relationship back on track or will it go up in flames?
- First holiday for years without the children – do the couple still have anything in common?
We did plenty of walking and one day came across a set of intertwined initials carved into a tree by a waterfall:
- Who carved them and why?
- What happens when one or both of them come back to revisit the carving?
There’s also plenty of scope for stories with a historical setting:
- Think of all the people who were born and died in our cottage
- A local told us that the last ‘ordinary’ people to live in our cottage brought up 3 boys there – how? The house was barely big enough for the 2 of us!
- The old coffin route from Edale to Castleton. At one time there was no consecrated ground in Edale and all the dead had to be brought over the hill to the church in Castleton
And that final point brings me to my poem – poetry connoisseurs please look away now. The rest of you can blame Julia, Susan and Alison, who all asked to see it after my post about the poetry writing workshop I attended in Castleton.
A Coffin Route Farewell
My baby, wrapped in sacking and loaded on a mule
a tiny corpse under a pauper’s shroud.
My baby, born mute, motionless and far too early
now travels the path toward Castleton.
My baby, cast out from home to ride with a stranger
in search of consecrated land.
Exhausted from birthing I never even held you.
They snatched you away without time for farewell.
My baby, you never shed a tear but my eyes will never be dry again.
“When you write poetry, imagine looking through a small window. Focus on just one aspect of the scene,” advised Alison Riley on a recent ’Poetry Stroll and Write’ which I stumbled upon whilst on holiday in Castleton, in the Peak District.
As I’ve said before, I am not a poet but anything remotely writing orientated always grabs my attention, so whilst my husband took himself off for a walk, I joined the poetry session.
Alison was full of good advice.
Whenever I attempt a poem I immediately start worrying about its form – rhyming? free verse? sonnet? etc. Alison suggested that I forget all of this and instead let myself go with some free writing about what was around us.
“Don’t worry about form or rhyme,” she said. “That can all come later.”
I managed some disjointed phrases about the mountain rescue van parked nearby. It definitely wasn’t poetry but Alison reckoned that with a bit of polishing it could become a reasonable poem.
Alison then showed us the poem ‘Resolution‘ by Jo Bell. It’s about Castleton at New Year and, sitting there in the quaint old village where it was written, it was extremely evocative. I began to feel that maybe I too could write a poem and, back in our rented cottage, I did. It’s about the ‘coffin route’ from Edale to Castleton (before there was a church in Edale, the corpses had to be carried over the hill into the next town for burial) – at the moment it’s just a rough version in my notebook but maybe one day I’ll dare to bring out into the light of day…
Thanks for the inspiration, Alison!
Alison Riley organises the Derbyshire Stanza of the Poetry Society.
Some competition news for you today:
Balsall Writers’ Competition 2012
Balsall Writers’ Competition 2012 is open for submissions of short stories (up to 2200 words) and/or poems (up to 42 lines).
There is a £100 first prize, £75 second and £50 third prize. The entry fee is £4. It is an open theme with a closing date of 31/10/2012 and the results will be announced a month later.
An entry form is required and this can be found here along with full details about the competition.
Erewash Writers’ Group Competition Update
Debbie has been in touch from Erewash Writers’ Group with an update on the charitable donation part of their 2012 competition – this donation has now reached £50.00. Entrants to the competition can nominate a favourite charity to receive this money, the names will be put into a hat and drawn at the end of the competition. The closing date for the competition is 27th June 2012 and details are here.
5minutefiction First Birthday Competition
And a quick reminder that the 5minutefiction First Birthday competition closes on 1st June 2012. Entry is only £2 and the first prize is £100 plus e-anthology publication for the top entries. The e-anthology from the site’s earlier competition is now available here – for less than the price of a magazine!
Good Luck if you decide to enter any of these!
It was a good meeting at my writing group last week. There weren’t many of us but everyone had brought something to read and had also written it with a market in mind, including Woman’s Weekly, People’s Friend, National Women’s Register short story competition (restricted to NWR members only, unfortunately) and a Writers’ News competition.
But Iona had also written a beautiful poem that was looking for a home. It was a moving verse about a soldier trying to find peace. I liked the poem because it was accessible. It rhymed (and none of the rhymes were forced) and the language was easily understood. This led onto a discussion about whether poems should or shouldn’t rhyme and how some, much praised, poems are often difficult to understand.
I rarely write poetry (because I’m not much good at it) but when I do attempt the odd verse I automatically make it rhyme and try to give it some sort of recognisable meter. More often than not it tells a story too – I find purely descriptive poems difficult. But my poems usually end up sounding rather childish and I don’t know whether this is because of the rhyming or just a reflection of my poor writing.
Of course, not all free verse is difficult to understand, I’ve just discovered ‘You’re Beautiful’ by Simon Armitage – have a read, it’s wonderful.
What do you think makes a good poem? Should it have a recognisable form and meter or should the poet be free to compose however he or she wishes?
And just in case you’ve come over all poetic, I’ve found a free to enter poetry competition. Blue Mountain Arts is offering prizes of $300, $150 and $50. You can enter by email as many times as you like and the closing date is June 30th 2012. Full details are here. Interestingly they state, “Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.”
I’ve had an email from Alex Black of PrintExpress.co.uk. Following on from their previous successful poetry competition (which I mentioned on this blog some months ago) they are running another FREE poetry competition to win £100.
Alex describes the competition as follows:
I picked up a copy of Mature Times in the library this week. This is a free monthly publication aimed at retired people of both sexes and this edition (February 2012) contains the following announcement, which may be of interest to anyone writing poetry:
From next month, Mature Times will publish a reader’s poem in our Poem of the Month competition. Entries will be judged by our literary critic, Jacky Edgell, and the winner will receive a Mature Times pen set. Please submit your poem to; Poem of the Month Competition, Mature Times, Highwood House, Winters Lane, Redhill, Bristol BS40 5SH or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I also bought a copy of Yours magazine. This is a fortnightly publication, again aimed at older people and I guess more women read it than men. Usually it carries one short story per issue but this one (Feb 21 - Mar 5 2012) contains two stories, and one of those is the first instalment of a two-part story. This may be a one-off or it may be an indication that Yours is going to start carrying more fiction, including short serials. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the latter!
Finally, talking of serials, I won the competition on Womag’s blog to write the first 200 words of a crime serial!! Geraldine Ryan was the judge and provided the prize – a copy of her new book, Leave Over. This book contains two (previously published) complete serials, so I’m looking forward to reading it and maybe picking up some tips.
When entering a competition it’s always nice to know where the entry fees are going. The Alan Sillitoe Open Poetry
Competition is raising funds to commission a statue of him, in Nottingham (£50,000 is needed). Alan died in 2010 and was one of Nottingham’s most distinguished 20th century writers.
Poems can be on any subject but must be no more than 40 lines. Entry fee is £3 (or £10 for 4 poems). Entry is by post only. The closing date is 10th January 2012 and winners will be notified in February. Full details are here.
If you are a fan of Sillitoe’s work (Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner etc.) you can make a donation to the statue fund here and be mentioned on their ‘Wall of Honour’.