Altered Nature Commission Poems 2020

Each year Poets & Players commission poets to write on a subject that we think is relevant that year and also that has potential to produce a variety of responses. This year we invited poets David Wheatley, Mary Jean Chan, Jane Burn and Isaiah Hull to write on the theme ‘Altered Nature’. The commissioned poets produced a wonderful range of poems and we are grateful for their work.

As the Covid-19 situation escalated it was clear that the poets and our audience wouldn’t be able to gather as usual at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. The date for our event was today, World Poetry Day, and although we can’t all be together in person we are pleased to be able to share the poems with you online along with a couple of readings kindly provided by the poets. Here are the poems:

DAVID WHEATLEY

Please click the link below to read David’s poem:

Wolf Girl, Clais Mhadaidh by David Wheatley

David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He has published four collections of poetry with Gallery Press and, more recently, The President of Planet Earth with Carcanet. He has also edited the poetry of Samuel Beckett for Faber and Faber, and written an academic study, Contemporary British Poetry (Palgrave, 2015). He has reviewed widely for the TLS, Guardian, LRB and other journals, and lives with his family in rural Aberdeenshire.

MARY JEAN CHAN

Note: this poem was written before the arrival of Covid-19 in the UK.

Altered Nature

The birds had their tongues tied to silver strings as they hung
mid-air in silence. I was kneeling on the wet earth, crying out.
A disembodied voice informed me that nectar was being slowly
harvested from their throats, that this was the only way. Heat
from their flailing bodies pressed my eyes into my skull. I tried
to hold myself together in the dream but could not. Once awake,
I could not feel tender. The brutality of all architecture stunned
me wherever I looked. What were we – as a species – doing?
I finally summoned the will to write Life on my to-do list but
kept postponing the task. I had been dreaming of the dying,
because I could not ignore the news from home, country not
so far from the heart. This viral uncertainty keeping me afraid
of intimacy. I did not want to touch what others had touched,
feared any public surface. Even the air was menacing, invisible
droplets omnipresent. A persistent cough soon developed, as if
to taunt me. My father, a rheumatologist, texts to say he is well,
reminds me that he went through the SARS epidemic and never
took a day off work. I have inherited this stubborn, Calvinist ethic.
Today, I return to where breath feels possible. My therapist asks
me: What do you want? I think to myself: mother’s gaze / straight gaze
/male gaze / white gaze
… I am ashamed to confess that I want to

be reborn as the brother, the beloved son, the future patriarch.
I want to see this torso in a different light, beam on it a kinder
gaze as I wait for something to give. I read a poet’s words: Mostly,
we do not fail to go on living
. There is fire on the streets of a city I still

love and fire in the earth’s lungs as the hour ticks on. Had I simply
imagined this intimate scene: the mother lying prostrate at the feet
of her child, begging for a miracle, or was it the other way around…

Mary Jean Chan is a London-based poet from Hong Kong. She is an editor of Oxford Poetry and a Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University. She came Second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem twice. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2019, and won the 2018 Poetry Society Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for her collection’s title poem. Flèche (Faber & Faber, 2019). Her collection Flèche won the Costa Poetry Prize 2019.

JANE BURN

The Fortingall Yew

I was here before your modern Gods. Before the chanted faith
of congregations I was my own psalm young and green I held
my plush against cathedrals of ascetic sky, let the wind use

the stave of my branches to write its own hymns. Once I was a seed,
fallen and stripped of my fat, red flesh. I felt the call of soil and broke
my nut-brown shell, cast tiny threads to moor my beginning.

Around me, you raised up homes of daub as I raised myself,
wattled a crown upon my own head. You traded wildflowers for crop,
fingered the earth for twisted bulbs of ore, coddled them in flame

and cast an Age of Metal in the crucible’s molten eye. You learned
to make better blades. I saw the tombs you built, how you blessed
each cist with hoards of wealth. You turned your skill to iron

and streams ran with rust put keen axe to wood, went from scraping
shallow lines with simple ard to deeply wounding plough, swelled the acres
with grain, bent the gentle animals to your will. You saw yourselves

as flowers, plunged your cloth in mordant baths, stole the bright
of madder, woad and weld, blossomed with posies of gold and jewels.
You fell in love with wheels and I have watched these circles orbit

like planets in galaxies of smoke, just as I have watched the moon
turning on the axle of night. I have seen too much of your war. The air
has carried strange birds who blot a shadow across the light. This land

has known blood. Is full of ghosts. Now is our permanent autumn
of plastic leaves. They fall wherever people are. This is the Age of Nylon
and its fruit seems to come with polyester pith. For aeons past I watched

you people spread, swell as I have from sapling to bough. I watched you
wither, saw your skin corrupt, warped as my own bark. I saw you die
yet I used no trick to stay evergreen. No chemical cream, so magic soap

has granted me this long-lived gift. I stay strong with only basic need
my underground veins seek a little rain, my flora as allowance of sun.

Here I remain, rooted into your bones, anchorite still, warding this church

that has grown at my eroded side. I sense the tilt of your standing stones,
graved with faded sentiment and half-forgotten names. The weather
around me has started to speak in unforgiving tongues. I am wedded to time

I wear its eternity of rings, though I cleft beneath the weight of years.
Each splinter of me has drunk your poison in and hankered for clean air.
My needles lift like tiny fingers. I point them into the unknown.

Jane Burn lives with her family for eight months of the year in a self-sustained wooden cottage on the Northumberland border which they fully restored using almost wholly reclaimed or recycled materials. Her love of nature is reflected in her poems which have been published in many magazines including Poethead, The Rialto, Iota Poetry, Under the Radar, Crannog, Strix and Butcher’s Dog to name a few. Her work has appeared in anthologies from The Emma Press, Valley Press, Seren, Fairacre Press and Beautiful Dragons. Her poems have been placed, shortlisted and longlisted in thirty-eight national and international poetry competitions and have been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prize.

ISAIAH HULL

Altered Nature

A beehive of queens is never peaceful
No yellow equals black is regal
Regicidal
She might sting you many times
While listening to gasoline
Waiting for the match to fall
I recall you
Skinning me a tangerine
That was all
Citric acid
Neck and neck
Nazarene with
Indigos in inky fashion
Nectar on my nose
Honey on my honesty i didn’t panic
You can’t end me with wicker man in cinematics
She stings my phone on my way home
Hands in holes about to close
I lost a friend in you
so now revenge is due?
Send him through she says I knew I’d end up here
I say ‘so you have chosen fear
Over growing?, don’t you dare! I held you dear
How come your poison won’t compare
Hocum, mares, woe comes paired!’
In holding cells the wax implodes in air
How are you coping? Scared
I lost my vision overnight and woke impaired
New orders from Her Majesty are ‘Poke him where the poem wears!’

Isaiah Hull is a noir writer from Old Trafford, exploring and challenging the extremities of self with image, word and soul whether on page or stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Winners of our 2020 competition

We are pleased to reveal the names of the winners and commended poets chosen by judge Sinéad Morrissey. 

Winners

First Prize:– –   Rob Miles, ‘Moon’
Second Prize:-.. Natalie Rees, ‘Little House’
Third Prize:–  –Luke Allan, ‘Lemon ode’

Commended Poets

Rod Whitworth, ‘Winter 1947, Our Yard’
Ken Evans, ‘The Mortification of the Flesh’
Susie Wilson, ‘Paper Chase’
Connor Owen, ‘Birdwatcher’

 

First Prize: Rob Miles for his poem ‘Moon’

Rob Miles is from Devon and lives in West Yorkshire. His poetry has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies. Rob has won or been runner up in various international journal and festival competitions. Some of Rob’s first places include the Philip Larkin Prize, judged by Don Paterson, and the Gingko/Resurgence Ecopoetry Prize, judged by Jo Shapcott and Imtiaz Dharker.

 

 

Moon

Some bad amateur maths pins it at blinking distance.
A hackneyed backlight design for antlers.
Salty ghost sucking crustily on the veins of a tree.

Chimneys giving it the finger get met by nothing
so tough in its serenity. There’s no face on this
pick-pocketed fossil, but a face

swallowing a face because no final face
has ever been achieved. It will take much more
than a few kitchen windows to explain. Stare

hard enough through a kettle’s breath and the aura
off its rocky iridescence is sticky tape going rogue:
ambiguous attachments, clear

commitment issues, now you see it, now…
Found on baby blue, welcome back as that nightmare
button thought lost in a cot. Singular mother

of all mothers of pearl. Floating speck on the retina
of the world. Eclipses fixed with a quick once over
at the opticians. Slingshot

chalk. Ancient castle moat igniter. Tide-teaser. Sliced
extrusion of seaside rock, blank at both ends
but all the way through saying moon.

Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: It seems almost impossible to write a good poem about the moon these days, and yet this writer has done exactly that. Like a stick of seaside rock, this virtuosic poem offers fresh perspectives on our planet’s most poetry-honoured satellite all the way through, and is full of textured grit and sonic wordplay.

Second Prize: Natalie Rees for her poem ‘Little House’

Natalie Rees is an Irish writer living in Bradford where she runs a Play & Creative Arts Therapy practice. She has been a prizewinner in the Penfro (2018) and Flambard (2017) poetry competitions and has published with various UK magazines. Her debut pamphlet is forthcoming later this year with Calder Valley Press.

 

 

Little House

Laura Ingles, with your mousey braids
and plaid smocks. With your sister, Mary,
who was prettier and towed the puritan line,
while you couldn’t help but involve
yourself in the entanglements
of your late nineteenth-century agrarian community
in ways that produced perfect moral outcomes,
such as Nellie Olsen in her Quaker best
being pulled by her blonde ringlets
into a pond because she was too self-aggrandising
when deferring to her family’s
sweet-shop-cum-hardware-store mercantile lifestyle.

Laura Ingles, I turned the top shelf of my plywood
wardrobe into your mid-western attic bedroom,
and sneaked up matches to read my Bible by paraffin lamp
made out of a used Nutella jar and tea light.
I craved your wholesome life, so safe and contained. If only
we could all skip around swinging packed lunches
in tin pails, wearing starched cotton dresses with white
aprons, everything in my eight-year-old life would be okay.

Laura Ingles, I spent Sunday afternoons fantasising
your father Charles would step out of the screen
into my living room, and pinch my cheek,
and call me Half-Pint,
his eyes meeting mine with all the twinkle
of a man who can hitch a wagon and work a water mill
by hand. Who would always happen to be behind
the next corner the precise moment
I needed a paternal figure to soak my shame
into the metallic sweetness of his flannel shirt.

Laura Ingles, even now I classify my personal timeline
as life Before Laura and life After Laura.

Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: This poem is composed of four direct addresses to Laura Ingles, with a whole world conjured in between. Funny, wry, self-deprecating and linguistically exuberant, “Little House” offers a re-run of a much-loved television series via unforgettable phrases and capacious syntax.

Third Prize:Luke Allan for his poem ‘Lemon ode’

Luke Allan is a poet, editor and designer. Former managing editor at Carcanet and PN Review, he is currently poetry editor at Partus Press and the literary journal Pain, and director of Studio Lamont. He studied at UEA and the University of Oxford. His poems are published in the TLS, Oxford Poetry, the anthology New Poetries VII and elsewhere.

 

 

Sinéad Morrissey’s comments: A gorgeous concrete poem in the shape of a lemon which conveys this fruit’s sharp, sensuous appeal to our touch, our sight, and our hearing in taut language and fruitful similes. The final comparison to owls is both unexpected and  exactly right and seals this poem’s achievements beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Workshop with Sinéad Morrissey: 4 April 2020

WORKSHOP CANCELLED

We are pleased to host a workshop with Sinéad Morrissey on Saturday 4 April 2020, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

Everyone welcome. All areas of the Gallery are accessible and there are several parking bays on Denmark Road for disabled visitors.

The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

Sinéad Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey has published six collections of poetry: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996); Between Here and There (2002); The State of the Prisons (2005); Through the Square Window (2009); Parallax (2013) and On Balance (2017). Her awards include the Irish Times Poetry Now Award (2009, 2013) and the T S Eliot Prize (2013). In 2016 she received the E M Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On Balance was awarded the Forward Prize in 2017. She has served as Belfast Poet Laureate (2013-2014) and is currently Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts at Newcastle University.

 

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Commission ‘Altered Nature’ with David Wheatley, Mary Jean Chan, Isaiah Hull, Jane Burn and music from the Chuva Guitar Duo: 21 March 2020

EVENT CANCELLED

A free poetry and music event at the Whitworth Art Gallery on 21 March 2020 (2.30-4.00).

This is our annual commission event; poets David Wheatley, Mary Jean Chan, Isaiah Hull and Jane Burn have been invited to participate in a poetry commission ‘Altered Nature’.

As 21st March is #WorldPoetryDay Manchester City of Literature will be live streaming some of our readings and also holding a short tree planting ceremony immediately after the event which you are all invited to, it will be held just outside in Whitworth Park to celebrate setting down roots for poetry in Manchester. There will also be readings from poets John McAuliffe and Aisha Mirza.

Everyone welcome. All areas of the Gallery are accessible and there are several parking bays on Denmark Road for disabled visitors.

David Wheatley

David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He has published four collections of poetry with Gallery Press and, more recently, The President of Planet Earth with Carcanet. He has also edited the poetry of Samuel Beckett for Faber and Faber, and written an academic study, Contemporary British Poetry (Palgrave, 2015). He has reviewed widely for the TLS, Guardian, LRB and other journals, and lives with his family in rural Aberdeenshire.

Mary Jean Chan

Mary Jean Chan is a London-based poet from Hong Kong. She is an editor of Oxford Poetry and a Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University. She came Second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem twice. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2019, and won the 2018 Poetry Society Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for her collection’s title poem. Flèche (Faber & Faber, 2019). Her collection Flèche won the Costa Poetry Prize 2019.

Isaiah Hull

Isaiah Hull is a noir writer from Old Trafford, exploring and challenging the extremities of self with image, word and soul whether on page or stage.

 

Jane Burn

Jane Burn lives with her family for eight months of the year in a self-sustained wooden cottage on the Northumberland border which they fully restored using almost wholly reclaimed or recycled materials. Her love of nature is reflected in her poems which have been published in many magazines including Poethead, The Rialto, Iota Poetry, Under the Radar, Crannog, Strix and Butcher’s Dog to name a few. Her work has appeared in anthologies from The Emma Press, Valley Press, Seren, Fairacre Press and Beautiful Dragons. Her poems have been placed, shortlisted and longlisted in thirty-eight national and international poetry competitions and have been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prize.

The Chuva Guitar Duo

The Chuva Guitar Duo was founded in 2018 by Manchester-based guitarists Rafael Onyett and Borna Kuca. The duo studied at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of the internationally renowned classical guitarist Craig Ogden. Since commencing their studies at the college, the duo have performed across the UK, at venues including the Bury Parish Church, Instituto Cervantes and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Duo Chuva is also part of a larger, established collective that collaborate with professional dancers – the Chuva Collective. The collective offers exciting performances of live music and dance, adding a unique twist to some of the more celebrated works of classical and Latin music.

Video Recording – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD90CaEg1mQ

 

 

 

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Workshop with David Wheatley: 21 March 2020

WORKSHOP CANCELLED

We are pleased to host a workshop with David Wheatley on Saturday 21 March 2020, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

Everyone welcome. All areas of the Gallery are accessible and there are several parking bays on Denmark Road for disabled visitors.

The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

David Wheatley

David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He has published four collections of poetry with Gallery Press and, more recently, The President of Planet Earth with Carcanet. He has also edited the poetry of Samuel Beckett for Faber and Faber, and written an academic study, Contemporary British Poetry (Palgrave, 2015). He has reviewed widely for the TLS, Guardian, LRB and other journals, and lives with his family in rural Aberdeenshire.

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J O Morgan and Maria Stepanova with Sasha Dugdale (translator) with music from Caoilfhionn Rose: 22 February 2020

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery on Saturday 22 February at 2.30-4.00. Everyone welcome. All areas of the Gallery are accessible and there are several parking bays on Denmark Road for disabled visitors.

J O Morgan

J. O. Morgan is the author of six books, each a single, book-length poem. His works have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the T.S.Eliot Prize, with his most recent book Assurances (2018) also winning the Costa Award for Poetry. His forthcoming work, The Martian’s Regress (due March 2020) is underpinned by aspects of ecology and migration, as well as the long-term future of the human race.

 

 

 

Maria Stepanova with Sasha Dugdale (translator)

Maria Stepanova is a poet, essayist, journalist and the author of ten poetry collections and two books of essays. She has been awarded several Russian and international literary awards (including the prestigious Andrey Bely Prize and Joseph Brodsky Fellowship). Her book In Memory of Memory is a book-length study in the field of cultural history. It won Russia’s Big Book Award in 2018 and will be published in English by New Directions in the US and Fitzcarraldo in the UK in 2020. Her collection of poems War of the Beasts and the Animals will be published in English by Bloodaxe in 2020.

Sasha Dugdale

Sasha Dugdale has published four collections of poems with Carcanet, most recently Joy in 2017 which was a PBS Choice. The title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. She is a Russian translator and is currently working on translations of the Russian poet Maria Stepanova to be published by Bloodaxe and Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2020. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and poet-in-residence at St John’s College, Cambridge (2018-2020).

 

Due to unforeseen circumstances Phil France has had to cancel but we have an excellent replacement:

Caoilfhionn Rose

Caoilfhionn (pronounced Keelin) Rose is a singer, songwriter and producer from Manchester. Emerging from a diverse music scene, she ties together remnants of Manchester’s musical past with its evolving present. She has collaborated with musicians from around the world and is perhaps best known for her work with Vini Reilly of Durutti Column: Collaborating on four songs on The Durutti Column – Chronicle LX:XL album.  

Her debut album Awaken was released in October 2018 on Gondwana Records. A deeply collaborative recording, co-produced by Matthew Halsall, Caoilfhionn and members of the band it is a rich tapestry that draws on folk, psychedelia and subtle electronica influences to produce something expansive, fragile and experimental.

 

 

 

 

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Workshop with J O Morgan

We are pleased to host a workshop with J O Morgan on Saturday 22 February 2020, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

J O Morgan

J. O. Morgan is the author of six books, each a single, book-length poem. His works have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the T.S.Eliot Prize, with his most recent book Assurances (2018) also winning the Costa Award for Poetry. His forthcoming work, The Martian’s Regress (due March 2020) is underpinned by aspects of ecology and migration, as well as the long-term future of the human race.

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Jo Shapcott, Kim Moore & Jennifer Lee Tsai with music from Chris Davies: 25 January 2020

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester on Saturday 25 January 2020 at 2.30-4.00. Everyone welcome. All areas of the Gallery are accessible and there are several parking bays on Denmark Road for disabled visitors.

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

 

Kim Moore

Kim Moore’s first collection The Art of Falling (Seren, 2015) won the 2016 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. She won a Northern Writers Award in 2014, an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2010.  Her pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition.  She is currently a PhD candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University and is working on her second collection.  Along with Clare Shaw, she is Co-Director of Kendal Poetry Festival.

 

 

Jennifer Lee Tsai 

Photo credit: Suzanne Lau

Jennifer Lee Tsai is a poet, editor and critic. She was born in Bebington and grew up in Liverpool. Jennifer is a fellow of The Complete Works III and a Ledbury Poetry Critic. Her poems are featured in the anthologies Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe: 2017), Islands Are But Mountains: New Poetry from the UK (Platypus Press, 2019) and have been published in various magazines and journals including Oxford Poetry, The Rialto, SMOKE, Soundings, Ambit, Wild Court and Magma.

Jennifer is an Associate Editor of SMOKE magazine and a Contributing Editor to Ambit. She is currently a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool.

Her debut poetry pamphlet Kismet (2019) is published by ignitionpress.

Chris Davies

chris-davisChris is a Musician, Composer, Performer, Buddhist, Hairdresser and Oudist with over thirty years experience working in the Arts, mainly with visual theatre and dance. His current projects are composing music and performing in a new adaptation of the 12th century Sufi poem ‘The Conference of Birds’ by Farid ud-Din Attar; he continues to perform live accompaniment for the first full length animated film ever made ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, with a play called ‘Spring Reign’ about the situation in Aleppo, Syria; he is saxophonist/raver with Mr Wilson’s Second Liners who play early 90’s dance classics in the style of a New Orleans Brass Band, a few haircuts, transforming the mind through Buddhist study and practice, and sound technician for Poets and Players. For more information please look here ~ http://www.musichris.co.uk

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Workshop with Jo Shapcott: 25 January 2020

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL

 

 

Workshop with Jo Shapcott on Saturday 25 January 2020, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

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Competition 2020: closing date 21 January 2020

Our competition is now closed. Good luck to all who entered. And thanks to everyone who helped us spread the word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are pleased to announce the 8th poetry competition run by Poets & Players, one of Manchester’s leading organisers of poetry and music events.

Our judge for 2020 is Sinéad Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey has published six collections of poetry: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996); Between Here and There (2002); The State of the Prisons (2005); Through the Square Window (2009); Parallax (2013) and On Balance (2017). Her awards include the Irish Times Poetry Now Award (2009, 2013) and the T S Eliot Prize (2013). In 2016 she received the E M Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On Balance was awarded the Forward Prize in 2017. She has served as Belfast Poet Laureate (2013-2014) and is currently Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts at Newcastle University.

 

What previous judges have said about the Poets & Players Competition:

When Poets & Players asked me to judge their competition I happily agreed. It’s an organisation I have long admired, from its earliest days with the inspiring founder Linda Chase, to today’s impressive incarnation in the splendid Whitworth Gallery. (Pascale Petit, 2018)

Poets & Players is one of the most significant and impressive poetry organisations in the country: the quality of the readings it puts on, its presence in the city is remarkable, so I’m delighted to be part of it in judging this competition. (Michael Symmons Roberts, 2017)

What was electrifying about this year’s entries … was not just the wide and eclectic range of subject matters … but also the range of forms and tones, the many tongues and registers that together created a resonating and distinct entry of poetry. (Jackie Kay, 2016)

What a fabulously organised competition… One tries to dissuade people from the idea of competitions but if you’re going to have one have it like this. (Paul Muldoon, 2015)

It was actually really fun judging the competition because you get the sense of what is happening in poetry right now … it was fascinating to take the temperature, as it were, of contemporary poetry. I’d like to thank Poets and Players organisation for running the competition, for wanting to run the competition, but also in general for the work that they do in promoting poetry in Manchester and the broader area, it’s a commendable organisation and I’m delighted to be associated with it. (Vona Groarke, 2014)

This competition was scrupulously organised, and I loved the fact that the anonymity of the entries allowed each poem to speak for itself. (Jacob Polley, 2013)

POETS & PLAYERS PRIZE

Sinéad Morrissey will read ALL poems. All poems will be judged anonymously.

1st Prize: £600
2nd Prize: £200
3rd Prize: £100

Commended poets at the judge’s discretion.

Closing Date: Tuesday 21 January 2020

Winners will be informed by Tuesday 17 March 2020 and will be invited to read alongside Sinéad Morrissey at the prize giving ceremony on the afternoon of Saturday 4 April 2020 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. If you have not been notified by 17 March 2020, we are afraid you have not been successful.

RULES AND OTHER INFORMATION

  • The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16, except for members of the Poets & Players committee.
  • Poems must be in English, typewritten in single space, font size 12. Please begin each poem on a new page but multiple online entries should be contained in a single document.
  • Poems can be on any subject, in any style or form, but must be the author’s own original work. They should not have appeared anywhere before, online or in print. Please do not submit poems that are currently under consideration elsewhere.
  • Maximum line length for individual poems is 40 lines (excluding title). Please do not include photographs or illustrations.
  • No changes can be made to poems once submitted and we regret that we are unable to provide feedback or make any refunds.
  • You may submit as many poems as you wish, accompanied by the appropriate payment and Entry Form/s.
  • Please note that all competition entries must reach us by Tuesday 21 January 2020, (online entries may be submitted up to 12 midnight on this date (GMT); postal entries must be received in our mailbox no later than Tuesday 21 January 2020). Entries arriving after this date will not be considered.

HOW TO ENTER

ENTER BY POST

ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form (see the link below):

Competition Entry Form 2020

  • Please post the completed Competition Entry Form and poems to: Poets & Players Poetry Competition, Poetry Dene, 16 Clifton Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 5DY.
  • If you wish to receive confirmation of your entry please enclose a prepaid envelope.
  • Poems must be printed on separate, numbered sheets, word processed (or typed) and clearly legible (single spaced and font size 12).
  • Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
  • You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the Entry Form/s.
  • Entry fee is £4 per poem or 3 for £10. Please do not send cash. Postal entries must be paid by cheque or postal order (only email entries may use PayPal). Please make payable to ‘Poets & Players’ and send together with your poem/s and Competition Entry Form to the address above.

ENTER BY EMAIL

ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form (see the link below):

Competition Entry Form 2020

Please email the completed Competition Entry Form and poems to
P-Pcomp@mail.com All email entries will be acknowledged.

  • Please ensure that all poems are sent as a single attachment and not in the body of the email. Please use your name as the title of the document (poems and Entry Form can be in the same document but must be on separate pages). If you are submitting more than one poem you should include them all in the same attachment but please ensure pages are numbered and start each poem on a new page. Single spaced and font size 12. Please save documents as doc, docx or PDF.
  • You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the Entry Form/s.
  • Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
  • Entry fee is £4 per poem or 3 for £10. Email entries must be paid by PayPal. IMPORTANT please include the PayPal reference number on the Entry Form.
      • Single poem £4 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards
      • Three poems £10 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

CHECKLIST: Completed Entry Form; poems on separate sheets (with no identifying information); cheque or postal order made payable to ‘Poets & Players’ (if submitting by post); PayPal reference (if submitting by email).

COPYRIGHT

Entrants retain copyright of their poem, however, we would hope to receive permission to make a video recording of the winners reading at the awards ceremony for our website, and to publish the winning poems on our website and/or in the Whitworth Art Gallery for one year after the competition.

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