The Poetry Society is very pleased to work with BBC Proms each year, advising on the running of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition, which is judged by Ian McMillan and Judith Palmer, and helping to programme a series of readers for the BBC Proms Extra Late events at the Royal Albert Hall, which are later broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Each year, the BBC runs a free poetry competition encouraging aspiring poets to write a poem inspired by any piece of music in that year’s Proms season. Judged each year by poet and The Verb presenter Ian McMillan and Poetry Society Director Judith Palmer, plus an additional guest judge such as Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, who judged in 2016, the deadline for the competition is during the Proms season in August. The winners are announced in September at an event on BBC Radio 3.
There are two age categories: ages 12-18 and 19 plus, and the winners get the chance to have their poems read out at a Proms Plus event in September with the judges. This will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and available as a Radio 3 Arts and Ideas download. Winners are also invited to come to that night’s Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Past winners, especially in the 12-18 years category, include many Poetry Society ‘alumni’ from our Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award or Young Poets Network. You can read some of their work on the website.
BBC Proms Extra Lates
Presented weekly during July-September each year, the BBC Proms Extra Lates events each feature one ‘up-and-coming’ act in music and poetry. They take place in the Elgar Room of the Royal Albert Hall with a late-night, informal feel, and are hosted by Georgia Mann. These free events have proven very popular, and are also broadcast on BBC Radio 3 each week.
In 2016, the poets who read were: Geraldine Clarkson, Kim Moore, Holly Corfield Carr, Amy Key, Mark Grist, Avaes Mohammad, Andrew McMillan and Chrissy Williams. You can listen to them on the BBC iPlayer.
In 2015, the poets were: Sarah Howe, Jon Stone, Megan Beech, William Letford, Inua Ellams, Liz Berry, Jack Underwood and Holly Hopkins.