Let us know your favourite ‘Where I’m From’ poems

There’s £900 to be won in our poetry competition on the theme of ‘Where I’m From’ – open to everyone, nationally and internationally, young and old. Enter here.

In the meantime, why not let us know your favourite poems by someone else on the theme of ‘Where I’m From’ and we’ll publish them here (or an extract if they’re out of copyright). Tell us why you like the poem and a little bit about you too. Email us at poetrycompetition@yahoo.com

To kick off, here’s Jackie Kay’s poem ‘In My Country’ of which Ruth Padel said in The Independent:

“Where do you come from? – is like the line of an old song, suggesting some unspoken answer (say, faeryland, or Hell, or Africa). But the last line shifts us into modern gear. In its understated way, the poem is about the claims of change. Songs have changed, Scotland has changed. It is “my country” too. Claiming the right to “these parts” – to punctuation, identity, capitals, an “honest river” not archaic “waters” of Babylon where exiles once wept – the poet is reminding you that poetry has moved forward, can play with folk form and move out of it, into new shape.”

In my country

walking by the waters
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow watchful circle
as if I were a superstition;
or the worst dregs of her imagination
so when she finally spoke
her words spliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
“Here”, I said, “Here. These parts.”

Image result for we're i'm from jackie kay

Jackie Kay is Scots Makar and Chancellor of the University of Salford.


The Waltham Forest Poetry Competition is… OPEN!

Tweet about us on #WFPoetryComp


Our competition – this year’s theme is ‘Where I’m From’ – is open to everyone (UK and international) and there also separate prizes for people who live, work or study in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and a Young Poets (under 18) section. Even if you don’t win, any poem that references a location in Waltham Forest has a chance of appearing in our poetry anthology ‘Where I’m From’ alongside the winners and Commended poems. We’ll also have an award ceremony where all winners and Commended poets will be invited to come and read their winning poem/s.

Theme: Where I’m From

Judge: Graham Clifford, published poet and head teacher in Waltham Forest. His latest collection is called Well, published by Against the Grain. grahamclifford.co.uk

Graham Clifford
Graham Clifford

Closing Date: Monday 7 October 2019 (midnight UK time)

Click here to enter online by Submittable (you’ll be asked to sign up if you haven’t used it before), but you can also enter poems by email or post – see below.


Entry fee: 1st poem £3, subsequent poems in the same submission £1 – up to 6 poems in total. Poets who live, work or study in Waltham Forest will automatically be included in the Local prize for no additional fee. 

  • Main prize: 1st £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. The overall winner will also be offered the choice of Poetry Society Membership (if they are not a Member already) or feedback on their poems via The Poetry Society’s Poetry Prescription/Poetry Surgery service.
  • Local prize: 1st £50, 2nd £30, and 3rd £20. The top 3 will also be offered a paid reading opportunity in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
No entry fee. Send up to 6 poems. Poets who live or study in Waltham Forest will automatically be included in the Local prize.
  • Main Prize: 1st £50, 2nd £30, 3rd £20.
  • Local prize: 1st £50, 2nd £30, and 3rd £20. The top three in the Local Prize will also receive Waterstones book tokens.
‘WHERE I’M FROM’ anthology: The top three poems in each of the Adult and Young Poet categories, plus a number of Commended poets as decided by the judge, will be published in our ‘Where I’m From’ anthology and on our website.
In addition, poems that reference specific locations in the London Borough of Waltham Forest will be considered for our ‘Where I’m From’ anthology even if they aren’t among the winning or Commended poems.

Awards Ceremony: Prize winners will be notified as soon as possible after the closing date and invited to read their winning poem/s at the award ceremony at One Hoe St, Walthamstow, London E17 4SD on the evening of Thursday 14 November.


2019 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition – coming soon!

Graham Clifford

After the success of our first ever Waltham Forest Poetry Competition last year, we’re doing it again! Our lovely judge this year is local poet Graham Clifford.

Graham lives in Waltham Forest with his partner and two daughters. As well as being a poet, he is a Head Teacher. His first book of poetry was Welcome Back to the Country, published by Seren, followed by The Hitting Game, in 2014, again published by Seren. His latest, Well, was published by Against The Grain in March 2019. grahamclifford.co.uk

Once again, there will be prizes for adults, young poets and local poets and our Awards Ceremony will be held at One Hoe Street, Walthamstow, on the evening of 14 November 2019.

We’re putting the final touches to the competition rules and will be announcing the launch very soon.

26 April 2019

Poetry at the Rose and Crown

On Monday evening we held the award ceremony of our first Waltham Forest (Poets Corner) Poetry Competition. The theme was “A Bright Future”. A number of the prize winners and highly and commended poets attended – two of the three winners of the main prizes were overseas (USA and Novia Scotia). There were four catagories: Overall winners with prizes of £300, £200 and £100: Local Poet and Young Poet each with prizes of £50, £30, £20 and a special award for the Top Local Young Poet £10. Stow Bros sponsored the Local Poet prizes.

The competition was a success with over 400 poems from well over 200 poets from across the Globe. We intend to run it again next year as part of Waltham Forest’s “Borough of Culture 2019” programme . If you have any idea for its format or competition theme we’d love to hear from you. Do keep an eye out for announcements, ideas etc on this site.



Come and join us at the Waltham Forest Poetry Competition Prize-Giving ceremony

On Monday 29 October, from 7.30pm, join Meryl Pugh and the winners of the inaugural Waltham Forest Poetry Competition.

There will be readings from Meryl as well as winners and commended poets, plus an open mic on the competition theme of ‘A Bright Future’ – or just bring your poems. If you would like to read, sign up on the night.

Prize-winning readers expected to include:

Main competition prize-winners Jane Wilkinson and Jenny Mitchell
Local prize-winners Tim Scott, Angelena Demaria and Sarala Estruch
Young poet prize-winner Kate Lucas

Free event. No need to book.

Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub
53 Hoe Street
E17 4SA

Keep those pencils sharpened!

That’s it! It’s over! Finis!…except it’s not. Our first poetry competition closed on 7th of September and that’s when the hard work began.

I had no idea how the competition would go. Would we be embarrassed with a trickle of entries. I’d heard of competition deadlines being extended because so few entries had been received. Would our judge Meryl Pugh be twiddling her thumbs?

I needn’t have worried. We had 437 poems from 223 poets in the adult section of which 70 + were local poets and 84 poems from young poets.

Meryl is attacking her task with relish! Already she’s tweeted that some of the young poets would give the old timers a run for their money. Also, she’s finding it harder to eliminate any poem.

This is great news. The competition has lived up to its theme “A Bright Future”…for poetry’s health. Thank you one and all.

And it’s not over. There’s the thrill of letting the winners etc know the results of the National, Local and Young Poet competitions. There’s the prize giving and reading of the winning poems on Monday 29th October at 7:30pm at the Old Rose and Crown, Hoe Street, Walthamstow. And there’s next year’s competition. We’ll just have to have another one!

Also, although the competition’s over we thought we’d keep people’s choice of poems going. So if you have a favourite why not let us know either by e-mail or twitter @BCoidan or @ForestPoets and add a piece about yourself and why you chose that poem.


I think this is so clever. When we had our “Poets for Sale” street event in 2014, people stopped, read the poem and walked on with smiles on their faces.