Worcestershire Poet Laureate

LitFest National Poetry Day Competition

Organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie

  • The 2015 LitFest National Poetry Day Competition is now open
  • Closing Date Sunday 6 September 2015
  • Free entry
  • Open to all in Worcestershire
  • For rules see below
  • Judges: Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie, and Maggie Doyle, Poet Laureate Emeritus
  • Poets are invited to attend a free tour of the Museum of Carpet for inspiration on Saturday 15 August 2.00pm. Please report to the Museum Reception to join the tour.

Competition Rules

  1. Entrants must be available to perform their poem(s) Thursday 8 October 2015 7.30pm at Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster.
  2. Closing date Sunday 6 September 2015.
  3. The theme is ‘Light and Shade’. All styles and genres are welcome. Poems inspired by the carpet industry will be particularly welcome.
  4. Submitted pieces must not have been published elsewhere and must be the entrant’s own original work.
  5. By entering this competition you agree that your work can be published on the LitFest website, read at LitFest events and included in publicity and promotions.
  6. Translations of anyone else’s work are not eligible. Copyright remains with the writer.
  7. Entries must be in English
  8. Submit entries by email to secretary@worcslitfest.co.uk.
  9. The subject line of the e-mail must say ‘LitFest National Poetry Day Submission’. A circa 50-word profile of the writer in the third person and the writer’s postal address to be included in the body of the email.
  10. Entries should be attached as a Word or an RTF document. Give your name and contact details in the body of the email, as well as the title of your submission(s). Do not put your name or email address on the entry itself. Please state your age if under 18.
  11. Entries should be single spaced, in a clear 12pt font.
  12. Maximum line limit: 40 lines excluding the title.
  13. Entrants will be notified of the shortlist by Monday 28 September 2015. The top three poets will be invited to perform their poems on National Poetry Day (see 1). Poems by the remaining poets on the shortlist will be published online and the public invited to vote for their favourite poem.
  14. No alterations can be made after receipt. The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence can be entered into. No entrant may win more than one prize.
  15. No correspondence will be entered into regarding the outcome of this competition.

Entry into the competition is taken to be acceptance of these rules.

All entries will be judged anonymously.

Judges: Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie, and a member of the LitFest committee.

Competition closes Sunday 6 September 2015.

Final results announced Thursday 8 October 2015 at the event and on the LitFest website thereafter.

First prize: Free admission to Museum of Carpet for a family or two adults, plus free entry to the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition 2016 and free entry to Worcester SpeakEasy and to Mouth & Music Kidderminster for one year.

Submission Guidelines

If sufficient entries from poets aged under 18 are received, we will make a separate category for these entrants.

All entries will be acknowledged within 48 hours of receipt. If you have not heard from us within a week please contact us. It is your responsibility to confirm your entry has been received.

We cannot accept submissions that do not follow submissions guidelines and rules.

Get your poetry fingers moving!  Good luck!


We are delighted to show the first poem from new Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Heather Wastie. Congratulations to Heather–we’re raising a glass to a wonderful year.

Heather in the news
Heather in the news

…and here is Heather’s first poem as Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015. Heather was interviewed by Worcester News shortly after she won this year’s Laureateship and the interview led to a poem and a promise, shown below. See Heather’s website for more.

Poet Laureate’s Promise

For a whole year
is poetically mine!

I could strut sonnets in Stourport
Hand out haikus in Hartlebury
Tinker with triolets in Tenbury Wells
Swan through Kidderminster kicking kennings
Conjure couplets in Cookley
Polish pantoums in Pershore
Dig up doggerel in Droitwich
Blurt out blank verse in Bewdley
and bawl ballads in Bromsgrove
Exclaim elegies in Evesham
Forage for free verse in Fairfield
Offer odes in Ombersley
Recite rondeaux in Redditch
Initiate idylls in Inkberrow
Lurk with limericks in Lickey …

My stanzas could spring up anywhere;
there’ll be a poetic kerfuffle.
And one thing I promise the Worcestershire folk:
my poems will never be waffle.

© Heather Wastie
June 2015


A Snapshot of September 2014

Welcome to  our 2014 Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal. Fergus has written this article to keep us up to date with what his role has involved through the first months of his Laureate tenure. To see the footnotes, please click on the numbers–click on the number again to return to where you were. Here’s his post about September 2014:

Fergus McGonigal
Fergus McGonigal

Week One

After the summer break[1], it was back to matters poetic with a trip to the National Trust property in Croome, along with the LitFest’s Polly Stretton and Maggie Doyle (and several other poets, including our December headliner, Heather Wastie). This was the start of a project to bring poetry to Croome (and, who knows, eventually other NT properties).

The day after that and it was off to Shrewsbury to do a 15-minute set for Liz Lefroy’s monthly spoken word night at ‘Eat Up’. I bumped into Robert Harper, editor of the excellent Bare Fiction magazine, and chatted about writing a review for the magazine for our October SpeakEasy birthday special.

A couple of days after that and I was in Stafford, performing a 10-minute set at the Stafford Young Poet Laureate competition. There was a healthy representation from Worcestershire (I bumped into Mike Alma, Mogs and the ubiquitous Nina Lewis). The Stafford Poetry Society Stanza leader invited me to give an hour-long performance/talk to his group. We shall see[2].

Week Two

The week kicked off with a SpeakEasy meeting at Maggie’s house. This is a monthly get-together: always productive, always great company.

The following day was Mouth and Music. UK Slam Champ Ben Norris, who headlined for us in January, gave a characteristically captivating performance. I performed a couple of poems from the pop-up poetry mini-show, ‘How Do Wars Start?’[3], which Heather Wastie and I had written and performed for this year’s Kidderminster Arts Festival (we’re working on expanding it from twenty to thirty minutes and have approached a few other festivals, of which one, the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, has immediately said ‘yes’).

Two days later and it was back to our own SpeakEasy at the Old Rectifying House, after a two-month break. An exclusive[4] audience enjoyed a varied set from Pete Wyton, former Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, and man with the most impressive poetry CV which SpeakEasy has seen (time does not permit[5]). The usual array of regulars and a couple of promising new talents were in attendance, and we saw the inauguration of the new SpeakEasy special raffle prize – a shirt (and we have enough to keep us interested, if that’s the right word[6]).

Sunday should have seen me at Nina Lewis’s ‘One Year a Poet’ at the Slug and Lettuce in Bromsgrove, but a streaming cold and a trip to the Small Injuries Unit at Kidderminster Hospital[7] put paid to that, much to my disappointment.

Week Three

I met up with Polly and Maggie again on Wednesday at Wolverley[8]. It is always good to make new poetry friends and I hope that we can encourage a couple of new faces at SpeakEasy from this enthusiastic group. The first part of the evening was Kidderminster Creatives’ AGM, followed by a ‘Creativity Jam’[9]. Naturally, with my extensive experience of the concept, I’ve offered to lead the next one.

On Thursday, I journeyed to Croome with Heather to walk around the grounds for a second time. The day was blessed with glorious weather and we came up with several[10] ideas, not only for poems but also for how we might use the venue for poetry. In the evening, I drove up to Birmingham with Maggie for ‘Hit the Ode’. I performed a couple of poems. It’s been a while since I was last there, and I always seem to channel my manic side with that crowd[11]. Maggie and I are currently shortlisting for next year’s headliners. Top of our list is Luke Kennard[12], but also on our list is Stephen Morrison-Burke and Hit the Ode’s exceptional MC, Bohdan (the ‘h’ is pronounced as a hard ‘g’) Piasecki. Bohdan was unable to perform at SpeakEasy’s previous incarnation, Parole Parlate, because he was helping the Festival find headliners for them in his capacity as regional head honcho[13] of Apples and Snakes – which precluded him from taking part. We’re delighted that they’ve both agreed. The UK headliner was my fellow Burning Eye[14] poet, Sally Jenkinson.

The biggest news of this week for me was that the final edit of ‘The Failed Idealist’s Guide to the Tatty Truth’ has been signed off by my editor, Harriet Evans, to go to the MD of Burning Eye Books Clive Birnie. It has been a fascinating process, and I am full of awe and admiration for Harriet. The publication date is the first week of November, and I have a book launch booked at Trinity Arts Centre in Tunbridge Wells[15]. Of course, the first[16] book launch will be at our very own Old Wreck[17].

Week Four

Next week sees the first of our SpeakEasy LitFest specials – Elvis McGonagall[18] at the Hive. The idea is to have two ‘one-off specials’ a year. We’ve invited Men in General to perform at St Swithun’s Institute next March.

Saturday will see the first Bell Tent Poetry Workshop, at Bewdley Library, between 10 and 12 (free to the public, but I do get paid), and the following week I am in St George’s Primary School in Kidderminster on Monday 29th, kicking off National Poetry Week with a whole school assembly, and a half-hour session for each class in the juniors (15 minutes for the infants).

Elvis McGonagall
Elvis McGonagall

And that’s a snapshot of my September.

[1] Well, apart from the Kidderminster Arts Festival

[2] Or maybe we shan’t.

[3] I was going to have done a couple of new funnies, but hey, someone had, ahem, hidden my notebook.

[4] Yes, exclusive.

[5] Well, it does, but it’s Friday evening.

[6] It isn’t.

[7] I didn’t perform at this particular venue.

[8] Where we pondered the validity of performing to mismatched teapots and a variety of outdoor furniture.

[9] Me neither.

[10] Or ‘many’, the only two big number which I know.

[11] Unbelievably good fun!

[12] Second time lucky.

[13] His official title.

[14] Burning Eye Books are also my publishers.

[15] My former home town, before I adopted a series of various different Worcestershire locations as home.

[16] …and real and true and proper…

[17] Well it will be, just as soon as I book it. Get your act together McGonigal!

[18] From the dyslexic branch of the family.

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