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August 2016

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Hannah Silva’s advice

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If you know what you are going to write before you start writing there’d be no need to write it. I think it’s the same with the judging: if I knew what I was looking for they’d be no point you entering. So these are just general thoughts. Please surprise yourself and hopefully me too.

Write a poem that only you could have written. That might be because it’s about a particular place where you grew up. Might be because the way you use language is distinctive to you. It’s your way of looking at the world. You can interpret the brief freely, there’s no need to crowbar into your poem vocabulary such as ‘Birmingham’ ‘Broad Street’ and ‘The Bull Ring’… Be original, a city isn’t just a bunch of locations…there are lots of people in it (such as you). Your Birmingham might be the Birmingham of dreams, of the future, after the apocalypse, before it was called Birmingham, as seen through a magic kaleidoscope… or through a bin bag the seagulls have been at again.

You can also submit via audio recording. It’s great that this is an option but a good poem works well on the page and in performance. Very occasionally a poem (such as one that uses sounds instead of words) can only work in performance. If you’ve made such a poem then please submit a recording too and I’ll realise that the poem is made for the ear not the eye and will listen carefully.

I look forward to reading your poems, and perhaps being surprised/impressed/entertained/astonished/disturbed/delighted/moved/shocked/upset/informed /seduced/perturbed/mortified/stunned/perplexed/disconcerted/floored/unnerved/aroused/stupefied/flabbergasted…. I very much doubt anyone can do all that in the one poem, but if you can, congratulations, you’ve won.