Investigation

Competitionrss

Open and shut case

1 August 2015

In Competition No. 2908 you were invited to submit a comically appalling opening to an imaginary novel. Thanks are due to the inventor of the annual Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest from… Read more

Tube lines

25 July 2015

In Competition No. 2907 you were invited to imagine that poets, living or dead, had been recruited to compose verse discouraging antisocial behaviour on the underground. This challenge was prompted… Read more

Poetry in motion

18 July 2015

In Competition No. 2906 you were invited to write a poem about an encounter in an airport. Craig Raine’s poem ‘Gatwick’ caused a right old kerfuffle when it was published… Read more

I can see a rainbow

11 July 2015

In Competition No. 2905 you were invited to write a sonnet whose lines begin with the letters R,O,Y,G,B,I,V,V,I,B,G,Y,O,R, in that order. Thanks to Frank McDonald for suggesting this gem of… Read more

Court report

4 July 2015

In Competition No. 2904 you were invited to take as your first line ‘There’s a breathless hush on the centre court’ and continue for up to 15 lines in the… Read more

Off colour

27 June 2015

In Competition No. 2903 you were invited to provide an extract from an article in an interiors magazine featuring some paint-colour names of your own invention that rival the ludicrousness… Read more

Howzat!

20 June 2015

In Competition No. 2903 you were invited to supply a poem incorporating a dozen cricketing terms. English poets love cricket: Housman, Betjeman, Chesterton and Sassoon all wrote about the game.… Read more

Pylon poetry

13 June 2015

In Competition No. 2901 you were invited to write a poem in praise of a modern-day blot on the landscape. Stephen Spender wasn’t praising pylons on aesthetic grounds in his… Read more

Sauce material

6 June 2015

In Competition No. 2900 you were invited to write a short story that ends on a condiment of your choice. The germ of this comp was the writer Richard Brautigan’s… Read more

Occasional verse

30 May 2015

In Competition No. 2899 you were invited to write a poem commemorating the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. The impetus for this comp was Carol Ann Duffy’s failure to… Read more

21st-century Belloc

23 May 2015

In Competition No. 2898 you were invited to give an update on one of the children in Cautionary Tales who lived to tell the tale. Belloc’s gallery of kiddie delinquents… Read more

Gizza job

16 May 2015

In Competition No. 2897 you were asked for a job application by a well-known writer, living or dead. Inspiration for this comp came from a young Hunter S. Thompson’s characteristically… Read more

Iffy

9 May 2015

In Competition No. 2896 you were invited to take Kipling’s ‘If’ and recast it on behalf of a politician on the campaign trail. In an interview with the New Republic… Read more

Eating poetry

2 May 2015

In Competition No. 2895 you were invited to submit a poem describing a meal with a well-known poet. Sylvia Fairley tucked, somewhat reluctantly, into albatross with Coleridge, D.A. Prince shared… Read more

Verses on horses

25 April 2015

In Competition No. 2894 you were invited to submit a paean to a famous racehorse. Thanks to David Pearn, who suggested what proved to be an excellent competition. P.C. Parrish,… Read more

On the record

18 April 2015

In Competition No. 2893 you were invited to suggest suitable Desert Island Discs for a historical figure, living or dead. Your choice of castaways was somewhat narrow — Richard III,… Read more

Consequences

11 April 2015

In Competition No. 2892 you were invited to submit an irregular quatrain in which you bring together two people from the world of the arts and then add a couplet… Read more

Yawn

4 April 2015

In Competition No. 2891 you were invited to think of the most boring lecture topic possible and submit an extract from that lecture. Christopher Gilbert gamely -submitted an extract from… Read more

End paper

28 March 2015

In Competition No. 2890 you were invited to imagine that one of the major newspapers has ceased publication and provide a verse lament for it. In his 2004 book The… Read more

Men behaving badly

21 March 2015

In Competition No. 2889 you were invited to submit an extract from an imaginary novel written from the perspective of a female chauvinist author. There are man-haters everywhere, it seems,… Read more

Acrostic

14 March 2015

In Competition No. 2888 you were invited to submit a poem in the style of a well-known poet, the first letters of each line spelling out the poet’s name. I… Read more

Heaven and hell

7 March 2015

In Competition No. 2887 you were invited to describe your idea of heaven or hell in verse. Nietzsche famously said that in Heaven ‘all the interesting people are missing’ and… Read more

Londoner’s Diary

28 February 2015

In Competition No. 2886 you were invited to submit a Pepys’-eye view of modern life. Pepys’s candid and minutely observed diary entries hum with a seemingly inexhaustible lust for life… Read more

As you liken it

21 February 2015

In Competition No. 2885 you were invited to write a sonnet beginning ‘Shall I compare thee to a [trisyllable of your choice]’. A competitor emailed to ask if I’d meant… Read more

Hair brained

14 February 2015

In Competition No. 2884 you were invited to submit a poem in praise or dispraise of beards. The beard has been rehabilitated since the dark days of Mr Twit, Jimmy… Read more