Get feedback on your poem with Caroline Bird!

Young Poets Network launches an exciting new feedback programme…

Have you written a poem that you’d like to show someone else?

Are you wondering which bits of your poetry are working, and which bits aren’t?

Do you want a professional poet’s opinion on your work?

We’ve got just the thing for you!

Young Poets Network is delighted to launch an annual feedback scheme. We’re offering 50 young poets (of any age up to 25, inclusive) the chance to receive 150 words of feedback from an award-winning poet. You can send one poem, and if you like, a question that you’d like to ask the poet about your writing. This year, the submissions window will open on Monday 1st July and close at 12 midday BST Tuesday 16th July 2019. 50 poets who submit their work will be randomly chosen to receive feedback before the end of July.

This year we’re working with the marvellous Caroline Bird, who has published five poetry collections, been a T.S. Eliot Prize shortlistee, and started her poetry career aged 13 as a Foyle Young Poet. She knows what it’s like to be a young poet and is eager to offer you feedback.

Caroline Bird. Photo: Hannah Edy

Interested? Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Choose one poem of up to 40 lines (or, if you’re sending an audio/video recording, up to 1 minute 30 seconds).
  2. Email this poem to educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk with the subject heading ‘Feedback’. In the email please write your name, age, gender, and the county (or if you’re not from the UK, the country) you live in.
  3. If your poem is written down, paste it into the body of the email, unless it has special formatting; then you may send it as a Word document or pdf. We can’t open Pages files or open shared Google Docs! If it’s an audio/video recording, send us a link to where we can listen/watch it, or attach it to the email.
  4. Only poets aged 25 or younger who submit poems that follow our guidelines will be entered into a random draw to receive feedback. We will reply to let you know whether or not your poem has been randomly selected to be sent to Caroline Bird. You’ll receive feedback by the end of July – in good time to enter it into this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award if you’re 11-17!

Rules

So that we can be as fair as possible, we ask you to follow some submissions guidelines. If you don’t follow these rules, unfortunately your poem won’t be considered.

  1. Only submit one poem. If you submit more than one poem, only your first will be considered.
  2. Written poems cannot be longer than 40 lines. The line count does not include the title, or spaces between stanzas (for example, a sestina is 39 lines long). Your poem can be as short as you like.
  3. Audio/video recordings cannot be longer than 1 minute 30 seconds. This includes any introductions. If you are sending a written version as well, the poem cannot be longer than 40 lines.
  4. Poems must be in English.
  5. Where possible, we’d like to keep feedback anonymous. Please do not include your name in your poem or in the title of any attachments, and do not say your name in audio/video recordings.
  6. If you would like to, you may ask Caroline Bird one question about your poem. See the section below for ideas on what you might ask, and how to get the most out of this opportunity. If you submit more than one question, only your first will be considered. You do not have to ask a question if you don’t want to.
  7. You must send your poem during the submissions window, opening Monday 1st July and closing 12 midday BST Tuesday 16th July 2019.
  8. This opportunity is offered randomly to 50 poets aged up to 25 (inclusive) who submit work that follows these rules. Ineligible poems will not be considered. The Poetry Society’s decision on eligibility is final and no correspondence will be entered into concerning the poems chosen to be passed on to Caroline Bird.
  9. Your personal details will not be shared with Caroline Bird, or any third party.
  10. You will receive your feedback via email from The Poetry Society towards the end of July. No correspondence will be entered between Caroline Bird and the submitter. We aim to send you your feedback before 31 July (the deadline of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award) in case you are hoping to enter it into the Foyle Award.
  11. All correspondence will be private. Your poem will not be published online. However, Young Poets Network may publish general anonymised remarks about the poems. (For example, we might say, ‘we received a lot of poems about ice cream’!)

How to get the most out of this opportunity

Which poem should I choose to send?

It depends on what you’d like to get out of the feedback.

You might want to get feedback on a poem that you’ve been working really hard on, and want someone else to read…

You might have started a poem you think has some potential but don’t know how to continue…

Maybe you’re trying a new style and want some feedback…

Or perhaps you’re hoping to enter this poem into a competition and want some tips on the final tweaks…

But don’t send your very best poem which is completely and utterly finished! The best thing you can hope for from feedback is constructive criticism – in other words, ways in which you can improve your work. If you send you’re a totally finished poem, you probably won’t want to change it, and you won’t get as many helpful suggestions. So send a poem that you’re working on – not one that’s completely finished.

Remember, your poem won’t be published anywhere and you’re sending it anonymously, so you really can send the one that’s been frustrating you most!

What should I ask?

You have the chance to ask Caroline Bird one question about your poem. You don’t have to ask her a question if you don’t want to – she’ll give you brilliant feedback regardless.

But if you want to get something specific out of the feedback, it might be worth asking about it.

For example, maybe you’re particularly struggling with the beginning, or the ending of the poem. Or maybe there’s an image or phrase you’re not sure about. Perhaps you’re not sure if the form is quite right. Ask, and you shall receive…

I’ve got the feedback – what next?

Hopefully you’ll find Caroline Bird’s feedback useful, and will want to keep working on your poem with her comments in mind.

You might not agree with everything she says – that’s okay! It’s your poem and you don’t have to change it if you don’t want to. But remember that Caroline’s thoughts might reflect the reactions of other potential readers. If she says something in your poem is unclear, it might be worth thinking about – even if you think the meaning is obvious.

Once you’ve made your changes, leave the poem for a few days.

Come back to it – do you think it’s better than it was before? You might like to share the new version with a fellow writer or teacher.

When you feel the poem’s finished, why not submit it to the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award (closing 31 July), or another Poetry Opportunity?

Hopefully you’ll feel that this experience has improved your craft! Do let us know your thoughts and feedback.

My poem wasn’t selected to be sent to Caroline Bird – what should I do?

Don’t worry! Young Poets Network has lots of features with top tips about editing and receiving feedback:

You can also look online or in your local library to find writing and development groups near you. In the UK, there’s New Writing North Young Writers, Writing West Midlands, Literature Wales, The Writing Squad (North England) and many more local organisations. These groups often offer feedback and mentoring.

There may be a Poetry Society Stanza near you, which will be full of keen readers and writers who’d love to give you feedback on your poems.

Some organisations (including The Poetry Society) offer paid feedback services. Though these can be pricey, if you’re able to afford them (or ask for one for a birthday present) they may be helpful. Find out more.

Finally, Young Poets Network plans to run a free feedback scheme every year – so sign up to the Young Poets Network mailing list, and check back next year!

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