Glyn Maxwell’s Dramatic Monologue Challenge

Glyn Maxwell talks about the cross over between writing poetry and plays. The key is to inhabit the whole world in order to make your character real.

Glyn Maxwell Reads Louise’s Monologue from Liberty

Be inspired and see what a range of voices is possible by reading the winning monologues from when the challenge first opened. Congratulations to Natasha Bailey, Joshua Kam, Dominic McGrath, Freya Wilson, Devawn Wilkinson, Iris Pearson, Tina Mander, Rachel Lewis, Rae Leaver and Mary Dodd for their brilliant writing!

Then when you have developed your own voice in its own world, you could always submit your response to one of the competitions on our Poetry Opportunities Page.

Our next challenge will be online soon, subscribe to hear about it when it goes live.

What is a Dramatic Monologue?

In poetry a dramatic monologue is a poem written from the point of view of a single person, who is definitely NOT the poet. The character speaks or thinks aloud, and often a whole story can be pieced together from the fragments they say.

Top tip

To make your poem the best it can be, read our feature on re-writing your poem.

Glyn Maxwell
Photo: Kate Eshelby

Glyn Maxwell is a critically-acclaimed poet, novelist and playwright.  His collection The Breakage (1998) won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Nerve (2002) won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.  He has written a number of plays including Broken Journey (Time Out Critics’ Choice), The Lifeblood, Anyroad and The Only Girl in the World. His radio play, Childminders, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2002. He has also written opera libretti, including The Girl of Sand with composer Elena Langer, and a libretto based on Euripides’ The Birds with composer Ed Hughes which performed at the City of London Festival 2005. Blue Burneau (1994), his first novel, was short listed for the Whitbread First Novel Award. Glynn’s collection Hide Now was published in 2008, and shortlisted for the 2008 T. S. Eliot Prize and the 2009 Forward Poetry Prize.

The Young Poets Network teamed up with A Young Theatre to share this feature. A Younger Theatre is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. It is maintained, edited and published entirely by under 26-year-olds with a passion for theatre. It is a one-stop online resource for young people who want to know about theatre from a young person’s view. It is unique in offering reviews, articles, features, interviews and blogs by writers, critics and journalists under 26, giving the intended readership opinions and content from their peers.

Published December, 2011

28 thoughts on “Glyn Maxwell’s Dramatic Monologue Challenge

  1. Yay sounds good. I recently wrote a soliloquy in the perspective of Lady Macbeth. It’s not very poem like. Do you think I could enter it?

  2. Aww… I literally wrote one today, but the narrator is definitely me (the poet), and changing the narrator would lose the meaning of the poem. Gutted!

    1. Hi Bob, we hope these challenges will be an opportunity to write new poems and maybe try something you haven’t had a go at before. If you want to find somewhere to submit a poem you have already written, why not check out the magazines and competitions listed on our Poetry Map page. The are lots of different places to submit work so you should be able to find the one to suit you. Take a look here:

  3. Hi U.S. We’re interested in poetry but we have been looking at the cross over between dramatic monologues in poetry and plays. In this challenge we we want you to explore another voice and to make us belive in the world you have created. Whether you choose to do this in a prose-poem or more formal verse is up to you.

    1. Hi Isha, if the tree is talking to an audience then it fits the bill. But we would encourage you to submit new poems to the YPN challenges if you can, instead of sending existing work. We hope the challenges will give you inspritation to write soemthing new.

    2. I enjoyed the poem Grass ewrttin by Carl Sandburg the most. I enjoyed this poem because it made me look at a different point of view of historical events. It made me look at famous battles in our history from the grass’ point of view. The fact that the grass did not care about the loss of human life was a fact that jumped out of me. I think the grass signified us as humans trying to forget the horrors of war and points out that we need to learn from our histoy and what mistakes we may have made to get to that point.

      1. The most interesting poem to me was Robert Frosts, Aquainted With the Night. I noejyed this poem the most becuase it showed the reader that everyone is exposed to darkness and sadness in life. The picture Frost painted in the poem was very vivid and attention grabbing. To me it exposed the journey a person takes when they are going through sadness in their life. He used simple but captivating words to create his point and take the reader on a journey through his dark night. I liked the way he repeated his opening line at the end to show a reader what the poems true meaning was.

  4. Hi, I was thinking of writing a poem about a prisoner talking to the guard, will that be okay? I wanted to symbolise the guard as the audience.

  5. Yes I write poetry and I would like to enter this competition.
    How can I submit my work to you. Also can you give me more information about this competition.

        1. Out of the four poems that we read,that I enjoyed the most was Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. I liked the way he ebericdd how the night felt and what it looked like. He also added details about his horse and how the horse felt and how it looked. It felt like I could have been there and all alone just standing in the snow looking at the woods. The peom also keeps me wondering at the end. What promises did he have to keep? Where is he going? And why did he stop to stare into woods on a cold night?

      1. I liked the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening the best. The poem rhymes and flows necily which makes it easy to read and understand. My favorite line was The woods are lovely, dark and deep’ because it helps you visualize the scene and creates the feeling and mood. The poem gives good details, but not so many that you can’t imagine for yourself. I really liked this poem because it reminded me of the pureness of fresh snow at Christmastime, and the excitement that comes with it.

    1. Hi Joshua, Glyn is judging the submissions this week – emails will be sent out to the selected poets sometime from the following week (the week commencing the 6th Feb)

  6. I liked the poem Grass by Carl Sandburg. The poem discusses how grass works to cover up the argncae left by war. While it doesn’t seem like much, I don’t think I have ever stopped to realize this tiny detail. Even after gruesome battles such as Gettysburg and Verdun with thousands of men dying, the earth will just eventually cover it up by grass and will go back to as it once was before. It is because that it seems like the earth is back to normal that we do not forget fallen soldiers, if we don’t remember them who will?

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