Poetry is an art form which captures the hearts and minds of many. Anyone can be a poet, whether you occasionally take pleasure in noting down interesting phrases which cross your mind, or you’re a songwriter, creating your very own poetry can give you a means to put your emotions into words as well as speaking out about issues close to your heart. To write poetry is to observe and report while you experiment with language to tell a story.
Poetry is a unique genre of creative writing which showcases the artistic qualities of language as well as the musicality hidden beneath everyday sentences.
Unlike prose, poetry uses the natural rhythm of the words that make up a language to make even free verse distinct from other traditional and modern poetry. Poetry is also about structuring sentences based on the sounds of words; the sonnet (famous in English poetry thanks to Shakespeare) arranged by rhyme scheme, whereas the haiku is arranged by syllables. Each lyric is carefully considered, with no room for meaningless additions to the narrative.
Whether you enjoy spending time reading poems you come across, or you’re a keen poet yourself, it can always help to know what’s going on in the world of poetry. Finding out which websites are the best ones to visit to get your daily dose of poetry as well as learning where to look for inspiration for your writing are both useful steps that poetry enthusiasts can take to enhance their poetic experience.
If you’re looking for information on how to enter poetry competitions, where to resources to find collections of poetry which suit your personal taste and where you can get inspired, you’ve come to the right place!
Poetry Competitions in the UK
Personal writings are often texts which are kept private to the author, especially if they feature detail about thoughts or feelings which one feels would be better left undiscovered. However, for many avid writers, no matter how personal their creations, sharing the poetry they are proud of is a must.
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Various competitions take place across the country and encompass all styles. From a contemporary poetry competition organised by a well-known poetry magazine to a spoken poetry slam at the Edinburgh Fringe, there really is something for everyone.
The National Poetry Library website is a great place to find competitions to enter. It lists each competition along with a description and rules for entrants.
Here is a brief overview of the competitions open to budding poets:
- Winchester Poetry Prize
The Winchester Poetry Festival runs a large number of poetry competitions for children and adults throughout the year. The annual competition for the Winchester Poetry Prize, in particular, is aimed at adults and offers a £1000 prize for 1st place – well worth the £5 entry fee! In addition to this, all winning pieces, as well as a selection of entries, will be published in a competition anthology.
Authors are not restricted to a certain genre or form of poem all that the National Poetry Library asks is that all entries are original and unpublished.
- Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
Run by the Poetry Society, this competition is open to writers between the ages of 11 and 17. There is no entry fee, and the lucky winner can look forward to mentoring and a writing course as well as having their poetry work published in a renowned anthology.
- Stanza Poetry Competition
Also organised by the poetry society, the Stanza Poetry Competition is open to members of the Poetry Society. Entrants may submit up to two poems, each one being no longer than 40 lines long. The theme of the competition for 2018 is ‘tradition’, which poets may interpret in whichever way they wish.
The Best Poetry Books
There’s nothing quite like a book, and when it comes to poetry, books aren’t something you read only once; each well-thumbed anthology forms an important part of a poetry collection with poems to be enjoyed over and over again.
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Here are some of the most popular poetry books on the market at the moment:
- Poetry by Heart: A Treasury of Poems to Read Aloud
Poetry by Heart is a compilation of poems to be learnt and recited. Popular among teenagers, the 200 poems were originally published in the anthology as a selection from which competitors of the annual Poetry by Heart competition were to choose the poems they would recite.
This anthology has poems to be enjoyed by readers of all backgrounds and ages. With famous pieces from everyone from poet laureate William Wordsworth to Wilfred Owen, as well as lesser-known poets, this book is a brilliant go-to for any lover of poetry.
- Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
This New York Times Bestseller is a collection of poems from the poet Rupi Kaur. The style of Kaur’s poetry is one which magnifies even the tiniest of moments in the human experience, describing them with an unfamiliar rawness.
With a focus on love, pain and femininity, this poetry book is best suited to young adults.
- The Poetry Pharmacy – William Sieghart
Just as described by its title, The Poetry Pharmacy is a collection of poems for those in need of healing, whether it be from pain, a loss of hope, heartbreak or worry. This anthology is described by Stephen Fry as containing ‘balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, an arm around the lonely shoulder’.
The Best Poetry Websites
In the digital age, it is becoming easier than ever to find and share poetic content online.
If you’re looking for a poem to use for a specific purpose, or you’d simply like to read something to get you motivated, the internet is the perfect place to find the poem you're looking for.
With a wider range of material, and far less costly than buying a whole book for one specific poem, the World Wide Web has all you need and more when it comes to discovering new poetry!
However, so much choice can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many poetry websites which act as dedicated banks of poems to be found easily by visitors.
Here are a couple of our favourites:
- Hello Poetry
Hello Poetry, affectionately known as ‘HePo’, began in 2009 as a platform for people to read and share poetry. The website’s creator emphasises the importance of the website as an ‘uncluttered, peaceful space’ for people to enjoy its content.
- Poem Hunter
Poem Hunter is the best bet for anyone looking for a specific poem. Whether you’re looking for a poetry reading to recite at a special occasion, or you’d like to print off the words to a poem you loved as a child, poem hunter is all about helping visitors find what they’re looking for. Poem Hunter has material from all types of poets and writers, including the most famous such as Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, to lesser-known poets.
The Best Poetry Quotes
The art of poetry is rather poetic in itself, and it’s for this reason that there are so many famous quotations on the subject. All kinds of people have something to say about poetry; whether their interests lie in philosophy, literature, journalism, music or another area, poetry can be found just about anywhere.
There are also many quotes about the process of penning a poem, which can motivate budding poets to overcome their writers’ block.
Here are a few of poetry quotes to get you thinking:
“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.” - Gustave Flaubert
This quote from French novelist Gustave Flaubert, born in 1821, explains the omnipresence of poetry in every aspect of life. Flaubert’s interests were in literary realism, so, perhaps this shows that there is beauty to be enjoyed in even the most mundane parts of life.
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” - Leonard Cohen
A poet and singer himself, Leonard Cohen believes that life is what generates poetry. Perhaps this quote highlights how living your life to the full, exploring, trying new things and learning will inspire your writing. It could also mean that the fuller the life you live, the more you will create.
“A poem begins with a lump in the throat.” - Robert Frost
Here, poet Robert Frost acknowledges the emotion behind every poem. Though poetry is usually shared and read by many, at its origin, writing a poem is a very personal experience.
Where to Submit Poetry
Have you written a poem you’re especially proud of? Why not share it with the world? You may even get your work noticed!
But where do you start? And what opportunities are available to those who enjoy writing poetry for fun?
- All Poetry
All Poetry is dedicated to poets who want some advice on their work. In addition, it acts as a platform for poets to share their work with others. The website also hosts competitions run by its members to encourage writers to experiment with a variety of styles as well as giving their poetry exposure.
- Poetry London
Poetry London is a poetry magazine which welcomes submissions from unpublished poets as well as those who are well-known in the poetry world. Pieces must be submitted by post (rather than email), and each poem is carefully read before a decision is made about its suitability for the tri-annual magazine.