Welcome to August! My favourite month of the year, filled with sun (if we’re lucky), parties, and birthday presents. This year it’s also hopefully the month I finish the first draft of my novel (touch wood, salute magpie, turn widdershins and cross all available digits). My fabulous beta crew are on stand-by with their red pencils – all that stands between them and the manuscript are an unwritten two chapters.

As a result, because the human brain is contrary, I’m mainly thinking about other things. The narrator from my next story woke me up this morning with a sarcastic retort, and I’m trying to give my online poetry community a bit of a kick up the proverbial. It seems that summer, contrary to romantic perception, is not the time for writing poetry. We had some great interest when it was raining and cold outside, but as things got better people abandoned their sonnets for sunbathing. So here’s a bit of an appeal: please can I have a present of poetry for my birthday?

All you have to do is fit the following five phrases into a poem. There’s no restriction on format, length, subject or anything else. You don’t even have to use the phrases exactly, or use all of them – it’s just intended to inspire.

1. Lace curtains
2. Broken mirror
3. Speak without words
4. Past the end of dream
5. A shadow you won’t recognise

For full guidelines, and to submit your entry, click here. If you don’t usually write poetry, maybe here’s a chance to try. Or write in free verse, which is basically prose. Whatever. I challenge you.


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