Stirling Makar Competition Winner!

The OUPoets’ Community has some serious talent amongst its ranks! Kate Young, no stranger to competition success, has chalked up yet another triumph with her haiku, ‘Sycamore Seed’ that was placed joint winner of the Stirling Makar ‘Tiny Things’ competition. This was a project set by Laura Fyfe celebrating nature and the environment in preparation for COP 26.

Kate Young’s poetry has appeared in various webzines/magazines nationally and in Canada. It has also featured in the anthologies Places of Poetry and Write Out Loud. Her pamphlet A Spark in the Darkness is due to be published with Hedgehog Press. Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.

Congratulations Kate!

More publication success for OUP members!

Extreme Formal Poems showcases over 150 expertly crafted poems by nearly forty of the best poets writing today, many of them multi-award winners. One of these poets is our very own, Susan Jarvis Bryant, who has eight poems represented in this wonderful anthology that demonstrate the command of form and versality of language that we know is so characteristic of her writing. Find out more by clicking here.

Unmuted is a collection of 32 ekphrastic poems by Nigel Kent. Each artwork acts as a frame in a storyboard which he unfreezes and unmutes to reveal the narrative he imagines lies behind it. Even for those who have no interest in art these direct, accessible and moving poems will stand alone and engage with issues that truly matter. To find out more click here.

Congratulations to both of them!

A New Collection from Society’s Chair!

Congratulations to Polly Stretton, Chair of the Open University Poetry Society on the publication of her latest collection, Growing Places (Black Pear Press, 2021).

In Growing Places Polly reveals her talent for creating a vivid sense of time, place and character. As Gary Longden, Staffordshire Poet Laureate, 2014-2015, writes: ‘This work of reminiscence connecting memories of Worcestershire warms with pieces around Malvern, its hills and Droitwich. Yet you need not have visited to appreciate the landscapes Polly evokes, so carefully are they crafted, so profoundly do those echoes resonate.’

Polly works in education; her poems have been widely published in previous collections, online, and in anthologies. Polly’s first collection, Girl’s Got Rhythm, was followed by Chatterton, a series of poems about the tragic young poet, Thomas Chatterton. Between 2016-2018 she collated and edited four anthologies of WWI poems and The Alchemy of 42, a collection of poems written to prompts for the spoken word event ’42 Worcester’, published in 2020.

For more information click here.


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.