No Spring Chickens

Don’t you hate it that the young get all the chances? That there are so many poetry awards for people under 18, under 25, under 30? What if you spent the first part of your life not writing poetry but gathering material for poems that only came later, when you had a bit more time to reflect?

Well, now it’s your turn. The Stare’s Nest is sponsoring a competition for older writers to get their moment in the spotlight. The brand new Fledgling Award celebrates debut pamphlets and collections by poets over the age of 40. And I’m delighted to say that the judge is none other than Martin “too old for a Gregory, to young to die” Figura!

So these are the rules:

  1. Eligible books must be the first solo book of poetry (whether a pamphlet or a full collection) from a poet who was 40 or older at the date of first publication.
  2. The book must be in English and published during 2014 or 2015.
  3. The poet must be a resident of the United Kingdom.
  4. Poets can enter the competition themselves, or be nominated by a friend or by their publisher. But discuss it, so I don’t end up with multiple copies of the same book! Self-published books are fine.
  5. Closing date is 15th May 2016 – we hope to announce results in July
  6. The filter judge is me, the top 10 shortlisted books will be read and judged by Martin
  7. The prize is £100 plus a suitable trophy, yet to be determined
  8. To enter, send a copy of the book (with a cheque for the entry fee of £5 payable to J L Sutherland), plus your date of birth and your contact details, to me at the following address:

Judi Sutherland, Willowfield, Darlington Road, Barnard Castle, Durham, DL12 8HN

Good luck, poets of more discerning years! This is your chance to shine.



16 thoughts on “No Spring Chickens


    We, as poetic pensioners,
    Wish it to be known
    That we’re not stepping aside for youth
    Now that we’re fully grown.

    What about prizes for wrinklies,
    Awards for the long in the tooth,
    A Gregory for geriatrics
    As opposed to callow youth?

    A pox on the pink-cheeked. Give us
    Poets stricken in years.
    We want a laid-back laureate
    Without fluff between its ears.

    Away with the purveyors
    Of newfangled nursery rhymes.
    Bring us a bard who has seen some life
    And remembers the good old times.



  3. dear Judi,

    A query. Being a pedant, I am unsure of the rules of first solo pamphlet or collection. My first full collection was pubLished in 2015, but I had had two pamphlets (with a US press) before that. Does the first solo collection thus count, or do the pamphlets disqualify me?

    Thanks, Jen

    Sent from my iPad


    • I hadn’t thought of anything so complicated but I am going to refine the rules on the spot. If your previous publications were US ones, I’ll allow your first UK collection into the comp. thank you!

  4. Hi Judi, This is great, an opportunity for us! I’m very interested The my debut collection was published in 2014. One query do you just want the book, a cheque and n note with date of birth and name, address, phone and email on an accompanying sheet?

  5. Silly question but how big should the collection be? Should it be sent in the format of a pdf? I’m assuming it should be thematic as to date I have not published a collection and therefore slightly confused with the rules.


  6. Hi Judi. What a wonderful idea! My publisher just forwarded me details and I was all set to apply.. but then spotted the requirement for 2014/15 publication. My debut pamphlet was published April 2016 so I guess I’m not eligible, but just thought I’d be cheeky and double check just in case? If not, fingers crossed there’ll be a rematch next year 🙂 Thanks so much.

    • Sorry, Shauna – we’re sticking to books published in 2014-15 this time. If we run it again you could be in luck!

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