Deadline for submissions of poems on the theme of messages or stories about the city of Leicester is 15 July 2016.
Submissions can be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or post and we can accept previously published poems.
Poets themselves do not have to be from Leicester
You could live in Leicester, work in Leicester, have family in Leicester, have visited Leicester, be that person in Timbuktu who decided to support Leicester City instead of Manchester United or be the Martian who tripped over Curiosity, the Mars Rover developed at Leicester University, and decided to find out more. Your poem can be set in the past, present or future providing it’s recognisably set in Leicester. It’s the poem that is the primary focus. Full submission guidelines are here.
We have not yet made any final decisions
We will not make any final decisions until after the closing date when we have received all the poems. Please don’t ask us for a decision before the closing date because we cannot give one.
The poems that make it into the anthology will be a) poems that follow the guidelines and b) poems that want to share their discovery with the reader. I am prepared to make suggested edits to poems, but taking your epic magnum opus and distilling it into 40 lines is not editing. It would be me writing your poem for you. Despite many years of publication, I have plenty of my own poems to write so don’t have time to write yours as well.
Editing an anthology is not a simple case of selecting the best work
That might seem counterintuitive, but we want poems that will read well alongside each other, poems that illustrate all aspects of Leicester as well as each individual poem being the best it can be.
Occasionally a brilliant poem will only work if it stands alone in the spotlight, like a mirrorball. On a stage with others, its light falls in shadow or those polished, reflective surfaces rebuff engagement. We would like poems that can reach out, share their story and engage with readers.
Tips for giving your poem the best chance of being selected:
Check your Poem Conforms to the Guidelines
This shouldn’t need saying. The guidelines are not rules to be broken but a sensible way of giving each poem a level playing field. From experience, I can tell whether your poem is longer than 40 lines by looking at it. Your poem could be handwritten or in a fancy font, but every poem is typed or reformatted in a standard font before it’s read.
Check your Poem is on the Theme
Your poem about Gotham might be marvellous, but unless you relocate Wayne Mansion to Leicester castle and the batcave to under the Soar, we can’t use it.
This isn’t about whether your poem is typed or not (we will accept handwritten entries), but whether you’ve given thought to how your poem looks on the page. Is there an inexplicable fifth line in the third stanza of your ballad? Is there a good reason for centring your text rather than using a left hand margin? Would your poem about leaves falling on New Walk benefit from being leaf-shaped?
A pastel text colour on a pale background isn’t easy to read, neither is a neon font on a neon page; there needs to be a contrast between colours and it’s best to stick to black on white. Crumpled, coffee-stained paper suggests you’re not bothered, so why should we be?
Is this your Best Poem?
Did you dash down your first thoughts about Leicester, group them into stanzas and think “That will do?”
Did you notice the cliches in your second stanza?
Have you used generic or specific phrasing? ‘Yellow’ covers everything from neon highlighters to primroses. ‘Blue’ could be sky to sapphire. Which shade did you mean?
Is your description detailed? Every Street got its name because taxi drivers were supposed to be able to take you to every street in Leicester from that spot. However, if every street in your poem looks exactly the same, how can a taxi driver tell where they are?
How many times have you referred to Leicester in your poem? In the context of an anthology of poems about Leicester, the word is getting a little tired.
Does your poem say something new? Leicester is newsworthy: the discovery of DNA fingerprinting, uncovering Richard III’s bones, winning the Premiership, but I’ve read the news. Your poem needs to find something new to say, a different angle, a personal reaction (without cliches), some gem of information that wasn’t in the news. Poems can pick up a small detail and amplify it. We’ve had poems about Leicester’s win. But no one’s submitted a poem about Jamie Vardy’s TV rocking on its stand when his party erupted in celebration.
Read it aloud. Poems work both read silently from the page and read aloud. Some poets record and playback their readings to hear how the poem sounds. Reading aloud also helps you pick up awkward line breaks, sound patterns, obvious rhymes and that tongue twister in stanza four. Ambrose and I are reading poems silently and reading them aloud as part of our selection process and we have no bias towards page or stage.
Put it aside for a while and come back and read both silently from the page and aloud. A break can give you a fresh perspective.
Titles matter. Our anthology won’t work if the contents list 80 poems titled ‘Leicester’. What title would grab a reader to read your poem first?
When you think you can’t make any more improvements, send it in before 16 July.
We will accept emails date and time stamped before midnight on 15 July. We will accept postal submissions providing the postmark is dated 15 July or earlier.
We will not accept any submissions dated 16 July or later.