Waltham Forest Poetry Competition 2021

It’s been awhile. Our last competition was in 2019 and then a virus messed up 2020 and we decided not to hold a competition that year. Now, with the roll out of the vaccines and the falling rate of infection we are running our Competition this year.

We’ll be opening the Competition for entries in July with a closing date in October. There will be no theme – poems can be on any subject/theme/topic/idea. As in the past the competition is open to everyone (UK and international) and there are also separate prizes for people who live, work or study in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and a Young Poets (under 18) section.

We have an extra bonus. Even if you don’t win, any poems that specifically references a location in Waltham Forest will be considered for publication on our website alongside the winners and Commended poems.

We’ll hold an an award ceremony in November 2021 where all winners and commended poets will be invited to read their winning poem/s. If we are still subject to Covid restrictions that prevent us from holding the ceremony on a face-to-face basis, we will hold it on Zoom.

Judge: Joelle Taylor

Closing Date: Monday 11 October (midnight UK time)

In the meantime we invite you to send us your favourite poem and a few lines on why you like it to us at barry.coidan@gmail.com or paulmcgrane1@yahoo.co.uk and we’ll up load them to this site.

ADULT COMPETITION (18 or over)

Entry fee: 1st poem £3, subsequent poems in the same submission £1 – up to 6 poems in total, 40 lines maximum per poem (not including title). Poets who live, work or study in Waltham Forest will automatically be included in the Local prize for no additional fee.

Main prize: 1st £400, 2nd £200, 3rd £100.
Local prize: 1st £50, 2nd £30, and 3rd £20.

YOUNG POET COMPETITION (under 18)

No entry fee. Send up to 6 poems in total, 40 lines maximum per poem (not including title). 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.

We will let you know when you can submit entries by Submittable in July.

Head and shoulders, black and white profile picture of Betjeman

A Subaltern’s Love Song

Miss J.Hunter Dunn, Miss J.Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament – you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.

By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

This is, for me, such an understated erotic poem as well as evoking so well middle class yearnings.

“What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament – you against me! ” and

“On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.”

Gosh, how I wish I knew Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

I asked a poetry friend for her favourite poem. She chose One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

“It’s written with such craft and such apparent ease, and takes us from the most trivial to the most fundamental of human losses. The inexorability of the verse form (a villanelle) matches the inexorability of loss and death, until it forces her to write the final word, ‘disaster’. There are two arts very clearly at play in this poem – the art of losing, and the art of poetry, at its height here.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s