We missed the news earlier in the year that OU Poetry Society Poet, Kathy Finney, had been shortlisted for the prestigious Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award run by The Cheltenham Poetry Festival. This was not her only success of the year: her poem Throstle in France was shortlisted in the 3rd Annual Cupid’s Arrow Love Poem Competition run by Hedgehog Poetry Press and another poem by her ,Tale of the Mother Earth Tree, has been selected for inclusion in the Shadow and Tall Trees Anthology, also by Hedgehog Poetry Press.

Belated congratulations, Kathy.!

More competition success for OU Poets

The success for OU Poets keeps on coming! Congratulations to Sue Spiers and Kate Young who have both triumphed in prestigious national poetry competitions. Sue was shortlisted in Hedgehog Poetry Press’ Nicely Folded Paper – 6′ Poetry Pamphlet Competition and Kate came third in The Federation of Writers (Scotland) Vernal Equinox competition with her fabulous poem, Summits and Spires. To read her poem click here.

Sue is no stranger to poetry competition success and . She started writing seriously in 2006 when she began a BA in Literature with the Open University. Her first collection, Jiggle Sac, was published in 2012 and 2020 saw the publication of her Plague – A Season of Senryu.

Kate too has a history of publishing and competition successes. Her work has appeared in Ninemuses, Ekphrastic Review, Nitrogen House, Words for the Wild and Poetry on the Lake. She has had poems included in a Scottish Writers Centre chapbook and an anthology taken from the Places of Poetry project last year. She was also one of the three authors of Liberté, egalité, fraternité, published last year by Hedgehog Poetry Press.

Openings 38 the annual anthology of the Society

We are delighted to announce the publication of Openings 38, the annual anthology of the Poetry Society of the Open University.

Members of the society submit poems to a workshop magazine, which is produced five times a year, each one having a different voluntary editor. The magazine is not a publication per se and is strictly produced by the members for the members. At the end of the year, members are asked to vote for the twenty poems they most appreciated from the magazines produced in the preceding calendar year. Those with the most votes, allowing for no more than one poem per poet, appear in the following year’s issue of Openings. The anthology is as broad-based as the society itself and reflects the varied backgrounds, interests and tastes of the members.

Appearing in the anthology this year are: Denis Ahern; Jane Avery; K.J. Barrett; Mark Bones; Sally Charnock; Cate Cody; Phil Craddock; Barbara Cumbers; Rose Docherty; Tim Field; Kathy Finney; M.C. Gardner; Julie Anne Gilligan; Adrian Green; Ted Griffin; Jenny Hamlett; Alice Harrison; Lem Ibbotson; Susan Jarvis Bryant; Nigel Kent; Jim Lindop; Rob Lowe; Jacob Lund; Karen Macfarlane; Ross McGivern; Hilary Mellon; Peter Meredith-Smith; Judi Moore; Vicki Morley; Kewal Paigankar; Nigel Pearce; Kimberley Pulling; Katherine Rawlings; Diane Schofield; Peta-Maria Slaney; Sue Spiers; Julie Stamp; Polly Stretton; Julie Stuart; Kate Young.

Congratulations to all the selected poets!

Openings 38, the annual anthology of the Open University Poets is available for sale, £7 + £2.16p UK P&P – Royal Mail rate for Non-UK P&P.


Non-UK P&P

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More good news!

More congratulations are in order for OUPS member, Kate Young, who has been shortlisted in the Poetry on the Lake Spring Competition in the formal poem category with her villanelle, ‘The Last Stars‘.

(This post was corrected at 12:02 p.m.)

Another Competition Success for an OUPS Member!


We are delighted to announce that OUPS member, Julie Anne Gilligan has won Second Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly’s April Competition with her poem, View from Dystopia. Congratulations, Julie!

Judging the competition, Mary Anne Smith Sellen, said of Julie’s poem, “This captivating poem impressed me from the start. I like the way Szymborska’s style has been effortlessly referenced here, as the poet describes their own first meeting with her work. ‘I carry in my pockets a loose change of words’ is a line that particularly resonated with me, after reading the Syzmborska poem that had ‘stuck within the core’ of the poet.”

Julie is the author of The Thickness of Blood, Monkey Business, 2012. Brought up on a literary diet of Greek Myths, Shakespeare, The Eagle, Edward Lear, Kentish gravestones, The Goon Show, atlases, telephone direectories and cereal packets plus an alliterative spattering of Kipling, Keats and Coleridge, she waited until late 2003 before writing her first poem. After a half century of abstinence, she’s been catching up ever since!

A second OUPS member, Wendy Toole, was Highly Commended, in the same competition with her poem, Soch Vichar. The judge’s report describing her piece as, ‘A perfectly paced and thought-provoking poem, beginning with a description of fire as something beautiful and useful. In the third stanza the poet then seamlessly turns this to suggest a more disturbing outcome, culminating in an unequivocal warning in the final line.’

To find out more about the competition and the Sentinel Literary Quarterly, click here.

OUPS member commissioned to write piece for OU Choir

OUPS member, Judi Moore, has been commissioned by the OU Choir to write thirty lines of verse on the subject of the year 2020 for setting to music by Liz Lane (OU music tutor). The brief was to capture the experience of this unique time in our history and is entitled A different kind of living. This constitutes a companion piece to the much longer A different kind of urban which Liz and Judi were commissioned to write in January 2017 and was premiered in November 2017. It had been scheduled to reprise this performance in 2020 but the pandemic prevented this from happening.

Congratulations, Judi.

OU Poet shortlisted for Saboteur Award, 2021

Congratulations to OUPS member, Nigel Kent, who has made the shortlist for the Saboteur Awards 2021. His weekly blog promoting the work of up-and-coming poets has earned him a place on the shortlist for the prestigious Reviewer of Literature Award.

In his blog Nigel publishes a fortnightly cycle of drop-ins and reviews. In week one he invites a poet to reflect upon one of the poems from their recently published collections and in week two he writes an in-depth review of the poet’s work.

He started this feature to help new writers publicise their poetry, though occasionally he does review the work of more established writers.

Since starting the project in August 2020 it has attracted over 1,300 visitors to the website.

For more information about the Saboteur Awards click here. To checkout the feature click here.

Another OU Poets Society Competition Winner

The Society is delighted to announce that yet another of our members has won a National Competition. Kate Young has come first in this year’s Hedgehog Poetry Press’ ‘Baker’s Dozen competition for pamphlets consisting of 13 poems with her submission, A Spark in the Darkness. Congratulations to Kate; we look forward to reading her winning collection on publication!

Kate’s work has appeared in a range of online and printed magazines, including Ninemuses, Ekphrastic Review, Nitrogen House, Words for the Wild and Poetry on the Lake. In 2020 she was one of the authors of Libertè, égalitè, fraternitè (Hedgehog Poetry Press).

Major Competition Win by OU Poet

Susan Jarvis Bryant has won the prestigious annual competition run by The Society of Classical Poets for the best poems written in 2020 submitted by living poets employing the finest, classical traditions of English poetry.

Susan Jarvis Bryant is originally from Kent in the U.K. Her love of words dates back to her early childhood and much time spent at Benn Brothers book publishing company. Her father and grandfather worked there, giving her the gift of a whole warehouse full of imaginative marvels to choose from—The Railway Children, The Treasure Seekers, Moominsummer Madness, The Wombles (with an exciting book launch on Wimbledon Common, no less), The Time Machine, and many, many more. This access to a bounty of beautiful words was a curious young girl’s inspiration to pursue a life steeped in literature.

Susan is a church secretary living on the coastal plains of Texas. A shared love of poetry drew her to her new home. She met her Texan husband while publishing her work online. It has been said that “Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language.” —Susan disagrees. Susan has poetry published in the U.K. webzines, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, and the American Light. She is also published on Expansive Poetry Online and in Openings (anthologies of poems by the Open University Poets Society).

Click on A Half-Baked Rondeau Redouble and Still to read the winning poems.

Congratulations to Kate Young!

Every year The Ekphrastic Review announces 10 names for the editor’s choice awards. This year OUPS member, Kate Young, has been named as one of the winners for 2020 with her poem, Dirt to Dust, based on Tower of Blue Horses (postcard sketch version), by Franz Marc (Germany) 1913. To read the poem and see the art work on which it is based, click here.

This is an exceptional achievement given the worldwide popularity of this site for poems inspired by works of art. Our congratulations Kate!