Poetry competition 2016

A celebration of young poets

MGSO4 Epsom & Ewell Arts Festival has launched a competition to find the borough’s most talented young poets, on the theme of ‘Our Town.’ Submissions are invited from children and young people aged between six and 18, in the form of a poem of up to 40 lines.

Shortlisted poets across four age categories will be invited to perform their poem at the Celebration of Young Poets event at 2.30pm in Bourne Hall, Ewell, on Saturday 25th June, alongside poet Audrey Ardern-Jones and the musicians collectively known as The Poetry and Music Ensemble.

The overall winning poem in each category will be announced at the end of the event.

Children can enter only one poem and entry is free. Entries can be made by individuals or through schools.

MGSO4 Festival's 'Our Town’ Poetry Competition is kindly sponsored by the Epsom Civic Society.

Who can enter?

The competition is open to anyone at school and/or living in the Borough of Epsom and Ewell, aged 18 or under. There are four age categories:

  • 6-7 years
  • 8-11 years
  • 12-14 years
  • 15-17 years (age on 31st August 2015.)


Shortlisted poets across four age categories will be invited to perform their poem at the Celebration of Young Poets event at Bourne Hall, Ewell, on Saturday 25th June. Shortlisted poets will receive an additional free adult ticket for The Poetry and Music Ensemble event.

The winning poem in each category will be presented with a specially selected book of poetry.

Meet the judges

Audrey Ardern-Jones

Audrey is a local poet who has lived in the Borough of Epsom and Ewell for 44 years. Her work has been published in anthologies and poetry journals and she has been a prize-winner, herself, in poetry competitions.

Audrey was editor of The Collection, an anthology of poems written by patients at The Royal Marsden Hospital, with a foreword by Sir Andrew Motion.

Founder member of the Poetry and Music Ensemble, she established the group after a concert at The Epsom Playhouse in the 1980s and they have been performing regularly every since.

She has previously judged children’s poetry in the Borough Schools’ Festival.

Jean Hall

The poems of London-based poet Jean Hall draw on her life experiences. She has worked in publishing at Hachette, in film and TV, as a travel photographer, and for the past 25 years as an archivist.

Educated in England and France, Jean lived in Spain as a teenager and was influenced by poems in other languages. Her own poems have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and she has read at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

For ten years Jean organised poetry evenings as fund-raisers for The North London Hospice and often reads at The Torriano and The Troubadour poetry venues. Jean is very keen to encourage young people to write and read poetry, believing that being creative is an essential part of life.

Judges' top tips

For inspiration, think of somewhere in Epsom & Ewell – it might be the market, the river near Bourne Hall, the Downs or the street where you live, for example. Think about how this makes you feel, what you can hear or smell.

What about events that happen in your town - do you play sport, go racing, go for walks on the common, spot butterflies, enjoy flowers …the Christmas feeling in the shops, the lights?

What does the word ‘town’ mean to you…how does it make you or your family and friends feel living in this Borough? Where do you like to go with family and friends? Do you bike to school, catch a bus or know an interesting shopkeeper, for example? Don’t forget the Derby, all the people, the funfair and of course Epsom Salts.

Try and surprise us, make us want to read your poem again, to look for its secrets, its beauty of language, a poem that we would like to bring out to read again and again. We would like to read a poem that touches us, makes us surprised, happy or even afraid or utterly entranced us by its beauty.

Audrey and Jean

Entry rules

  1. 1. Poems should be emailed to poetry@mgso4festival.org or posted to 31, Links Road, Epsom, KT17 3PP on or before midday on 5th June 2016.

  2. 2. All poems must be the original work of the entrant and should not have been previously published, accepted for publication by a magazine, nor entered in other competitions.

  3. 3. The length of each poem must not exceed 40 lines.

  4. 4. Each individual poem, regardless of length, can be entered by email in a Word or PDF document, or on paper.

  5. 5. IMPORTANT: If making an online entry, the document should include only the poem and the category you are entering and your age on 1st September 2015. The subject heading of the accompanying email should contain the title of your poem. Your email should state the poet’s name and address, telephone number and email address. The judge(s) will not see this information.

  6. 6. If making a number of submissions (for example from a school or club) please number the entries and provide a separate sheet indicating who has written which poem. This is for the competition administrator’s reference and, again, the judge(s) will not see this information.

  7. 7. Where entries are hand-written, entries should include the category entered and the poet’s age on 1st September 2015. The entry should be made in an envelope with the name and contact details of the poet (including an email address) on a separate sheet of paper. The judge(s) will not see this information.

  8. 8. The competitor’s name must NOT appear in the Word document with the poem or on a handwritten entry.

  9. 9. Entries will be acknowledged via email, including postal entries where an email address has been provided.

  10. 10. Copyright remains with the author, but MGSO4 Festival reserves the right to have entries displayed, and/or performed at the Festival, on radio, TV, or stage, published on the internet, in an anthology or used for publicity purposes at any stage in the future.

  11. 11. Poems will be shortlisted and shortlisted poets in each category will be notified on 8th June 2016.

  12. 12. Shortlisted poets will be invited to perform their poem at MGSO4’s Celebration of Young Poets on Saturday 25th June at Bourne Hall. If preferred, a reader will be on hand to perform a shortlisted poem.
  13. The Festival cannot pay travel costs to the winner’s event.

  14. 13. The decision of the judge(s) is final and no correspondence will be entered into.