‘Enclosed little worlds’: a new National Poetry Competition writing resource from Paula Bohince

Paula Bohince

As entries to the National Poetry Competition 2021 begin to come in, The Poetry Society is commissioning writing guides from prize winners about poems that have been placed in the competition in past years. These guides are free resources to help poets in their own creative practice, whether or not they are planning on entering the finished poem into the competition. 

In the first of these resources commissioned to accompany this year’s competition, Paula Bohince, who won second prize in the competition in 2013, reflects on David Hart’s ‘The Silkies’, and ‘Tangerines’ by Hugo Williams – poems that use carefully constructed settings rich in detail to create a captivating atmosphere of time and place. Bohince says of the poems:

“Both poems have aspects of the mild and the wild, and the tension between keeps their atmospheres slightly off-kilter. They seem to be poems of presence and absence, and what connects these concepts is imagination. Strange, specific, enclosed little worlds hold so many possibilities for your own interesting and memorable poems.”

Download the writing guide here. 

Begun in 1978, the National Poetry Competition is one of the biggest international competitions for a single poem in the English language. Previous winners include Helen Dunmore, Ruth Padel, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison.

The Poetry Society will be commissioning more guides like this between now and the competition deadline, all of which can be found on the resources page of the National Poetry Competition website, along with even more resources from previous years. They are all free to access.

Enter the National Poetry Competition here before the closing date of 31 October.

20 May 2021