Reading poetry is fine, but there's even more fun to be had if you broaden your horizons and have a go at writing your own poems. Since 2008 we've been running an annual poetry competition for kids aged 16 and under, to encourage young poets to write and to share their poems with the world. Below you'll find information about previous competitions and have a chance to read the fantastic entries we received.
It a bit late arriving, but the 2013 poetry competition for kids is now open for entries. The theme of this year's competition is Happy Families and the challenge is to write a poem about one or more members if your family,
So if you've got an adorable aunt, brat of a brother, eccentric uncle or a dragon for a mother, why not immortalise them in verse. The poems can be written in any form and can be funny, factual, sad or sentimental. Entries must be received by 31st January 2014 and the prizes will be awarded by mid-February 2014.
An attempt to piggyback the competition on the excitement of the 2012 Olympics coming to London was only partially successful. If I'd though harder I'd have realised that children who enjoy the sweaty exertions of the sports field aren't necessarily the same sensitive souls who enjoy entering poetry competitions. Nothing venture, nothing gained.
If the subject for the 2011 competition appears rather narrow, considerable attitude was offered in the interpretation of animals. We were rewarded with a veritable menagerie of poems about creatures of all shapes and sizes, from gnats and sea anemones to hippos and lions, plus all the expected pet dogs, cats and giraffes!
The challenge was to create a shape poem about a subject of the author's choice. There was a deluge of visual, true and twisted shape poems about a huge variety of different subjects, from the abstract - horror, energy, love - to the concrete - football, rabbits and snowmen. The competition also brought forth a completely new style of visual poetry, in the form of Mikayla's hybrid photo-shape poem entitled Ballet.
In to the swing of it by now, the 2009 competition let kids loose on writing poems about illness. While the website has an inclination towards funny poetry, the competitions have always welcomed serious as well as humorous poems and Sick Poets brought a welcome mix of poems about illnesses trivial, serious and life-threatening.
Our first faltering steps into poetry competitions for children was Fussy Poets, a very simple exercise in rewriting Patrick Fussy Eater poem. I'd no idea whether anyone would enter and was completely unprepared for the sparkling brilliance of the entries. There was clearly an appetite for a poetry competition offering modest prizes, but abundant praise.