Saturday 9 August 2014

Proms Poetry Competition 2014 #poetry #writing #writingcompetitions

The competition opens for entries on Sunday 8 June at 10pm on Radio 3.

In Association with the Poetry Society.

Hear Ian McMillan and his fellow judge Daljit Nagra launch the competition on The Verb at 10pm on Friday 6 June on Radio 3.

Come to the free Competition Winners' Event on Friday 12 September!

The two age categories are 12-18 and 19 plus.

The challenge:
All you have to do is to write a poem inspired by any piece of music in this year's Proms season. There are two age categories: ages 12-18 and 19 plus. Your poem will be judged by me and by the award winning poet Daljit Nagra.

The winners will get the chance to have their poems read out at a Proms Plus event on 12 September with Daljit and me, and then broadcast on BBC Radio 3. You'll also be invited to come to that night's Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

My tips:
Here's a few tips to help you on your way. First: don't worry. People often worry about their poems; it's as though they're going to visit a fearsome auntie and they think they're going to do the wrong thing or speak too loudly or knock something over.

Don't worry: poetry is often about doing the wrong thing or speaking too loudly or knocking things over. In other words: be bold with your work.

Don't forget that in a competition it's often the startling poems, the ones that are a bit different, the ones that lead the reader down the garden path before surprising them with a treat that do well, because it's the unusual poems that float to the top.

So, think about the piece of music. How does it make you feel? Does it remind you of a place you've been to, a person you know? Does it feel like a story or a description or simply a bunch of words thrown into the air?

Any of those are fine: what I'm looking for is your personal response to a piece of music in the Proms. You don't have to tell me the tale of how the music got written or what the composer meant by it, unless you really want to.

Think outside the box as marketing people in bright ties and designer glasses say. And remember: I want to be startled!

Two more things:

It doesn't have to rhyme, but it can.

My personal challenge to you is: try hard to avoid the word music. That's not in the rules, that's just to make you think.


1. Choose a piece of music from this year's Proms season. You can hear some clips on the event pages
2. Write your poem (up to 25 lines in length)
3. Download an application form:
as a PDF file (74Kb)
as a Microsoft Word document (702Kb)

4. Send off to reach us by the closing date of Sunday 17 August 2014.

How to enter

Entries must be sent by email to:
by post to:

Proms Poetry Competition
BBC Broadcasting House
London W1A 1AA

Entries must be no longer than 25 lines and must include a completed application form.

The opening date for applications is Sunday 8 June 2014 and the competition will be launched on Radio 3's The Verb on Friday 6 June. The closing date for entries is Sunday 17 August 2014. Any entries received after this date will not be entered in the competition.

Terms and conditions for the Proms Poetry Competition can be found here.

In case of any queries, contact us by email:

OR telephone: 0203 614 0200*

*Standard geographical charges from landlines and mobiles will apply.

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