All posts filed under: Competitions

NPC winners 2017

National Poetry Competition awards night

This is where I open with a statement about the star-studded atmosphere of the Savile Club ballroom last night, where the UK’s biggest poetry single-poem competition reached its climax…but this is my blog after all, so I know you’re expecting something a bit more – um – prosaic? Something about my exchanging some banter with Patience Agbabi while delving into my bag on the cloakroom floor, or trying not to look like an imposter as I anxiously scan the room for canapés. Well, yes, that did happen. And I was nervous walking in. But it was a joy to be there with poet friend Lynne, who shares my trepidation for these things but who always appears to be an oasis of calm and wisdom. First up was the Ted Hughes Award, a newish prized instigated by Carol Ann Duffy, who generously funds it from her annual stipend for being Poet Laureate. Is she just the most impressive Poet Laureate ever? Like a brilliant Head Girl. Detention for anyone who doesn’t love her! The award “celebrates new work that may fall beyond …

Reasons to enter (or not) poetry competitions

Do you send poems off to competitions? If not, why not? OK we all know it’s ‘a lottery’. Nevertheless most of us would admit it’s exciting to actually win something. Or is it? I often debate this with poet friends and in particular the reasons not to enter comps. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments! Reasons to submit to competitions 1) A competition win gives you instant visibility and credibility as a poet 2) Winning a competition is a terrific confidence-boost 3) There’s good money to be won 4) Pamphlet (or book) competitions are the only way to get published 5) It’s supporting a poetry publication or organisation that I like Reasons NOT to submit to competitions 1) It’s expensive / I can’t afford it Actually these are two separate arguments. For some, it’s the principle of paying to enter a competition that grates. The fact that it takes hours and hours of work to even put a competition together, let alone promote/ judge and deal with all the related admin, is by-the-by.  In competition publicity the emphasis …

TS Eliot prize readings programme

TS Eliot Prize – workshop & readings

Katy Evans-Bush‘s TS Eliot shortlist workshop is fast becoming an institution. Now in its sixth year, it’s a fine precursor to the Prize readings which take place the following day, and the prize giving itself the day after that. The format is straightforward – Katy reads the ten shortlisted books, chooses from them a number of poems to discuss, and invites poets along to the Poetry School in Lambeth for a day to mull them over. I’ve been to one of these workshops once before and had a wonderful time. This time I had to confess I hadn’t read any of the collections, but in a way that’s part of the excitement – to be introduced to them by someone like Katy. Not only does she offer her thoughts and insights into the works, and invite us all into the discussion, but she also brings to the table her formidable background as a writer, reader and and literary critic. Plus the odd bit of insider gossip, of course. The TS Eliot Prize is probably the highest profile UK poetry prize and that’s …

poetry rejections

Quick 2016 submissions stats overview

I have a much longer ‘end of year’ post lined up but for now I thought I’d post a quick subs update for this year. 40 poems submitted to 11 magazines: 33 declined, 7 accepted (17.5%) by 5 magazines. 7 poems entered for competitions: 1 x 2nd place, 6 x ducks. 2 x poems included in anthologies (invitation/non competitive, both new poems). 2 x poems included in anthologies (competitive, both previously published poems). 3 x pamphlet submissions:  1 shortlisted (last 20), 3 declined. Currently out: 6 to competitions, 7 to magazines (of which 7 are resubs and 5 new). As I suspected, I’ve sent out significantly fewer poems in 2016 than in previous years. But checking back on 2015 I also see that several of the ‘declined’ or unplaced poems have subsequently been published elsewhere (6 of the 23 poems submitted to competitions and 9 of those declined by magazines). There are many reasons for the low send rate, not just laziness (although that comes into it): illness, confidence ebbing as certain poems I was sure about have been continually rejected, and not writing …

living room window before

Poetry vs DIY, plus a few upcoming deadlines

It’s easy to lose the rhythm of blogging – I’ve been lacking the motivation lately, partly out of a feeling of ‘what is there really to say that makes a difference?’ And yet, there are always interesting things to say. I’ve recently been admiring Josephine Corcoran’s commitment to blogging every day during November – sometimes in-depth pieces and other times brief updates or musings. It’s all interesting. Similarly, one of my all-time favourite blogs is Jean Tubridy’s Social Bridge – impossible to classify in terms of its content, and always compelling. So what’s on my mind at the moment? Firstly, an increasing need to stay away from Facebook, TV news, the media generally. Is that an age thing – when nothing under the sun really seems new, or if it is, it often seems inconsequential? Perhaps also a ‘winter’s-coming-and-the-days-are-getting-shorter thing? Secondly, we’re approaching our first winter in our new home and the to-do list is as long as ever. It’s such an absorbing project that sometimes I’d just rather strip down a window sill or paint a …

Cuckmere Haven by Eric Ravilious, Towner Gallery Eastbourne

Quick update on things

It’s been a tricky month so far for finding the time and inclination to blog, so I thought I’d write a quick update. I have a lovely guest post waiting in the wings, which I’m planning to post up later in the week. So … the last three weeks have been strange to say the least, as I’ve been travelling over to Brighton each weekday for radiotherapy. It’s an hour or more each way on the bus, but it has to be one of the most scenic bus routes in the country: climbing up onto the South Downs with views of the sea on three sides, skirting Friston Forest and down into Cuckmere Haven with its gorgeous meandering river. It’s less pretty after that but views of the sea are never far away. I’ve read three novels and had fun observing my travelling companions and taking in all the quirks of bus life. It’s almost taken my mind off the reality of having to go every day to lie naked from the waist up in a freezing room while strangers …

view from the ship

Submissions windows open & poetry competition deadlines

Windows Just checking which magazines have re-opened their windows (must’ve been hot in there) and have found the following: The Stinging Fly is open until Aug 31st (postal submissions) or Sept 4 (via Submittable). Agenda appears to have been open since June 1st – the website says it’s still open, so jump in quickly! Ambit has been open for poetry submissions from August 1st, window closes October 1st. Under the Radar will be re-opening Sept 14th and closing October 30th. (This is a change to what I reported previously). For a list of some UK magazines which are open to submissions all year, see my April post. Competition deadlines coming up Attention all compers: there are some opportunities to look at here – click on the relevant link to go to the page with more info. All details are provided in good faith, but I can’t guarantee I’ve got them all correct – please go to the competition page to check and to read the rules, cut off dates etc. Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival  (a new one …

Robin & Jess at South Downs Poetry Festival

At the South Downs Poetry Festival

When Tim Dawes came to Lewes just a few months ago to talk about his plans for a South Downs Poetry Festival, I admit I was sceptical about whether it could be done in such a short timeframe. But hats off to him, the event happened and from what I can tell, it was a super success. After a poetry bike ride taking in the length of the South Downs, plus numerous readings and workshops throughout the area, things culminated in a day-long event in Petersfield on Saturday, which I was very pleased to be a part of. I was there with fellow Telltale Poet Jess Mookherjee, flying the Telltale flag, socialising with fellow publishers/poets and taking in readings and workshops where possible. Being a new festival, it was on a small scale – which made it actually all the more fun. With smallness comes intimacy – everyone was relaxed, poets and organisers accessible, and there was time and space to really talk to people. And we brought cookies – free edibles are always a …

Brittle Star 38 cover art

When the poetry magazines arrive…

… it’s always exciting, especially of course if you’ve got a poem in it. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying The Interpreter’s House issue 62, featuring an augmented brace of Telltale Poets (ie 3) and Brittle Star 38. Both mags are famous for their striking covers, and my first thought when I saw Martin Parker’s design for Brittle Star was ‘Kate Bush!’ Check it out – Clearly they are not the same, but it goes to show how many hours I stared at this album cover and how embedded it is in my memory. The INSIDE of the magazine is of course the thing, and I enjoy the editorial and reviews as well as the poetry. I’m not big on short stories in poetry magazines, although I can be persuaded to read them occasionally. I know it’s common for magazines to do both, but I have a bit of a one-track mind. Also just through the letterbox is the new Poetry Review (nothing in there by me, but I live in hope – …

be in it to win it

A few poetry comp deadlines coming up

This is the post I set out to write before I got sidetracked with my last one! So enough with the musings. I just wanted to mention some poetry competition deadlines coming up. Like London buses, they all seem to come at once, so I hope you’ve got a nice bagful of competition-winning poems at the ready. Frogmore Poetry Prize – you’ve got to be quick because it’s postal submissions only and the deadline is Tuesday 31st May. Judged by Catherine Smith, first prize 250 guineas and a 2-year subscription to The Frogmore Papers, entry fee £3 per poem. A pedigree comp with an impressive list of distinguished former winners. Bridport Prize – also closing Tuesday 31st May, but you can enter online. Judged by Patience Agbabi, first prize is a whopping £5,000 and the entry fee is a correspondingly fat £9. One of the big ones and famous for its long longlist. South Bank Poetry Competition – closes 15th June. Judge is Mimi Khalvati, first prize is £300 and entry fees are £4 for the first poem, …