the Grist antidote to Olympic fever

Chewing the cud with a writer friend last night, we got to talking about why, when writers write about place in England, the effect is always vaguely comic or bathetic. Where in America, the mere mention of Route 66 say, or Highway 61, has gravitas (imagine a similar conjuration through a reference to the M62 or the A41). Why do place names in other parts of the world resonate, where in England they sound whimsical, small or trite? Is it merely a reflection of our depleted status on the world stage?

With this in mind, we decided to set writers around the world, a challenge. The challenge is this: to write a poem about an English place (it can be a city, town, village, road, street or any other location) of no more than 20 lines. It can utilise comedy, but the overall effect of the poem should not merely be to titillate or tickle the reader’s funny bone. The poem should achieve gravitas and pathos. It should stir us emotionally. It should make us want to go the place, it should transform our idea of the place, it should make us think about it in a different way.

So, are you up to the challenge? Entry is free. Go to our Facebook page here:

Post up your response on our page (you will need to ‘like’ the page first to be eligible).

You have two weeks, or as long as the Olympics lasts. Then our team of four anonymous judges will pick three winners and award the following prizes:

Gold Medalist: £50 and a Grist anthology

Silver Medalist: £25 and a Grist anthology

Bronze Medalist: £10 and a Grist anthology

Good luck (oh, and do please spread the word).

Michael Stewart


About headspam

I'm a writer from Salford, now based in Bradford. I've written for theatre, radio and TV. And the following books: King Crow (novel: Bluemoose Books); Couples (poetry: Valley Press); Cafe Assassin (novel: Bluemoose Books); Mr Jolly (short stories: Valley Press) Author page:
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