Spectator competition: Marking time

Competition 3349 invited you to write a poem riffing on the line ‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons’, from ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, but substituting something else for the spoons. You came up with rubbish collections, brands of jeans, obsolete technology, library fines, biros, toothpaste tubes, meds, lovers, visits to Wetherspoons,

Spectator Competition: A tale of one city

In Comp. 3348 you were invited to submit an extract in which Charles Dickens writes about today’s London. It was perhaps a slightly smaller haul than usual but full of nuggets. In Dorothy Pope’s rendition, the great author is gratified to discover that ‘my Oliver is playing in one of the many theatres’; while Paul

Spectator Competition: Nursery crimes

Comp. 3347 invited you to write a hard-boiled nursery rhyme. This inevitably led many to think of Humpty Dumpty, hence his multiple appearances (the consensus is he didn’t fall, he was pushed). Philip Marlowe was smouldered at by various femmes fatales including Little Bo Peep and Miss Muffet. A special mention goes to David Silverman’s

Spectator Competition: Memorials for monsters

Competition 3346 invited you to write an ‘Epitaph on a Tyrant’. There were fewer Putins than expected but both T Rex and Caligula cropped up more than once. It was a strong field and hard to whittle down but £25 goes to each of the following. Beast, twelve feet tall and forty long,Fast, clever and

Spectator competition winners: Chaucer goes to Wimbledon

In Competition No. 3345, you were invited to submit a report on a popular sporting event as it might have been written by someone who is not first and foremost a sportswriter. In a high-class field, David Silverman, the Revd Dr Peter Mullen and Ben Hale were unlucky to lose out on the £25 which

Spectator competition winners: in praise of the sonnet

In Competition No. 3344 you were invited to submit a poem expressing feelings – positive or negative – about a poetic form. The standard was impressively high, with near-misses for Max Ross, Sylvia Fairley and David Silverman, whose entry ended by rendering Paradise Lost in a single haiku (‘Angel turns nasty/ Temptation in the garden/

Spectator Competition winners: John Donne on Tik Tok

In Competition No. 3343 you were invited to submit a sermon on a subject of contemporary relevance in the style of a well-known writer. This challenge drew a medium-sized entry, mostly of great merit, pronouncing on subjects that ranged from the evils of mobile phones to deep fakes and potholes. Frank McDonald’s Alexander Pope –

Spectator competition winners: poems about great works of art

In Competition No. 3341 you were invited to submit a poem about a great work of art –  a challenge prompted by George Steiner’s observation that ‘the best readings of art are art’. The writer Geoff Dyer has cited W.H. Auden’s 1938 ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ –  about Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s ‘Landscape with the Fall

Spectator competition winners: why baked beans should be banned

In Competition No. 3340 you were asked to submit a poem calling for a particular food to be banned. It was Julie Bindel’s impassioned anti-balsamic vinegar piece that prompted me to invite you to share your culinary bêtes-noires (three of mine – Battenberg, tripe and Liquorice Allsorts – cropped up in the entry). Adrian Fry

Spectator competition winners: Noël Coward on evolution

In Competition No. 3338 you were invited to submit an essay on the topic of evolution in the style of the writer of your choice. In a top-notch entry, Basil Ransome-Davies’s twist on Larkin’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’, Janine Beacham’s Edgar Allan Poe and Russell Chamberlain’s imagining of Kipling’s final Just So story, How Every Creature Got

Spectator competition winners: mischievous Valentine acrostics

In Competition No. 3335 you were invited to submit an acrostic poem for Valentine’s Day whose acrostic contains an unValentine-ish sentiment. The prize winners, printed below, pocket £20 apiece. Venus, darling, gorgeous snuggly-wuggly, Apple of my ever-loving eye,  Let me kiss you, squeeze you, honey-bunny,  Ever-treasured sugar, sweetie-pie, Nuzzle me, my gorgeous, hot stud muffin,

Spectator competition winners: poems about conspiracy theories

In Competition No. 3334 you were invited to submit a poem about conspiracy theories. Trawling the net for examples, I found, alongside the more familiar ones – a reptilian elite, JFK’s assassination, commie fluoridation – whispers of chemicals in the water to turn the frogs gay and that Finland is a myth. In a hotly

Spectator competition winners: Dylan Thomas changes his tune

In Competition No. 3332 you were invited to supply, in verse form, a retraction of beliefs previously believed in passionately. You weren’t obliged to step into the shoes of a real poet but many chose to and some smart, entertaining about-turns included Robert Schechter’s ‘Palinode on a Grecian Urn’: ‘Truth is beauty,’I said smugly,but lived