Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition: autumnal nonsense poems

In Competition No. 3324 you were in-vited to submit nonsense verse on an autumnal theme. W.J. Webster confessed that ‘sense kept breaking in’ to his entry, but the line between sense and nonsense is not always clear. As Anthony Burgess observed, in a review of Geoffrey Grigson’s Faber Anthology of Nonsense Verse, Mr Grigson ‘wisely

Spectator competition winners: finding love in unlikely locations

In Competition No. 3321 you were invited to provide a love scene from a novel set in a location that might not be considered conducive to romance. There was a distinctly scatological flavour to this week’s postbag. Rubbing shoulders with the abattoirs and morgues were sewage treatment plants and waste-contaminated waters. Adrian Fry’s description of

Spectator competition winners: Epicureanism vs Stoicism

In Competition No. 3320 you were invited to submit a poem extolling Epicureanism over Stoicism or the other way round. Stoicism is enjoying something of a revival, embraced by everyone from billionaire tech bros to self-help devotees. But Mary Beard is no fan of Marcus Aurelius and has said that she finds it ‘mystifying’ that

Spectator competition winners: pen portraits of Seamus Heaney

In Competition No. 3318 you were invited to provide a verse portrait of Seamus Heaney by any other poet, living or dead. This challenge marks the tenth anniversary, last month, of Heaney’s death. Once asked if anything in his work struck him as appropriate as an epitaph, the Nobel Laureate quoted from his translation of

Spectator competition winners: Clerihews on well-known philosophers

In Competition No. 3314, you were invited to submit clerihews (two couplets, AABB, metrically clunky, humorous in tone) on well-known philosophers. Eric Idle’s ‘Bruces’ Philosophers Song’ cast a long shadow over a large and jolly postbag. ‘Extraordinarily hard to avoid couplets from the Monty Python song!’ wrote A.H. Harker in a note accompanying his entry.Brian

Spectator competition winners: songs for a parliamentary songbook

In Competition No. 3311, you were invited to submit a song suitable for inclusion in a parliamentary songbook. In an entry in which most scored pleasingly high on singability, W.S. Gilbert rubbed shoulders with Simon & Garfunkel and the Kinks. An honourable mention to Emily Matthews, but leading the winners below, who take £30 each,

Spectator competition winners: who’s afraid of AI?

In Competition No. 3310, you were invited to submit a horror story on the theme of artificial intelligence. None of your entries, creditable though they were, matched the horror of Harlan Ellison’s gruesome short story from 1967, ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream’, which was at the back of my mind when I set

Spectator competition winners: famous poems in reverse

In Competition No. 3309, you were invited to compose a poem starting with the last line of any well-known poem and ending with its first, the new poem being on a different subject from the original. Max Ross’s sonnet, reflecting on the demands of the task in hand, earns a commendation: The task for which

Spectator competition winners: short stories after Walter de la Mare

In Competition No. 3208 you were invited to submit a short story whose first or last line is: ‘“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller.’ The given line opens Walter de la Mare’s slippery, haunting, much-anthologised ‘The Listeners’ and many entries echoed the 1912 poem’s supernatural theme. An honourable mention to George Simmers and David

Spectator competition winners: verse obituaries for Berlusconi

In Competition No. 3207 you were invited to submit a verse obituary of Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian former prime minister who, despite sex scandals and court battles, managed three stints as PM, died last month aged 86. His more startling gaffes included suggesting that Abruzzo earthquake survivors see their situation as ‘a weekend of camping’

Spectator competition winners: poems about procrastination

In Competition No. 3306, you were invited to submit a poem about procrastination. Procrastination looms large in Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s hilarious account of his attempt to write a study of D.H. Lawrence, and it struck me as an excellent topic for a competition. As Samuel Johnson wrote, the tendency to put things

Spectator competition winners: sonnets on sonnets

In Competition No. 3305, you were invited to submit a sonnet entitled ‘Sonnet On Famous And Familiar Sonnets’. The germ for this challenge was ‘Sonnet On Famous And Familiar Sonnets And Experiences’ by the gifted, troubled Delmore Schwartz, friend to Robert Lowell and John Berryman (who wrote a suite of poems in memory of him).