National poetry day marks the final month of the Hear my Voice 2020 poetry competition

The people of Barnsley only have a few more weeks to enter Barnsley Museums’ poetry competition which closes at noon on Saturday, 31 October.

To mark National Poetry Day and the final weeks of the competition, Ian McMillan will launch #TheCovidSonnets. This new monthly cycle of sonnets continues Ian’s poetic chronicle of the impact of Covid-19 that began in March with his #PoetInLockdown sonnets and ran through to early August. The first of #TheCovidSonnets will be posted on the Hear My Voice Twitter and Facebook pages at 7:00pm on Thursday, 1 October.

Alongside the sonnets Eloise Unerman, Barnsley’s Poet Laurent will be offering further inspiration and guidance, via a series of ‘Top Tips’, giving people plenty of opportunities to try out different approaches to writing,

These plus Ian’s sonnets and a series of short online poetry workshops by local poets including Helen Mort, Ray Hearne, Matt Abbott and Louise Fazackerley, are available to view on the Barnsley Museums YouTube channel.  The workshops have been organised into playlists for different age groups.

Hear My Voice 2020 is open to everyone who lives in the borough of Barnsley and will generate a creative record of the Covid-19 crisis across the borough. Winning poetry will be compiled into an anthology alongside work by Poet Laureate Eloise Unerman and Ian McMillan’s new cycle of Covid Sonnets. They will also act as judges. Entries are in three age categories: children under 12; young people aged 12-18 and adults (over 18).

The competition is being run by Barnsley Museums, as part of the Hear My Voice Programme which encourages expression through poetry and spoken word. It compliments Ian McMillan’s Poet in Lockdown project which is already inspiring people to pick up a pen and capture some of their own ideas on the current situation. 

The Hear My Voice 2020 Competition is one part of Barnsley Museums thought provoking and innovative digital programme that is helping to keep the borough’s communities entertained, active and inspired whilst at home.

Barnsley’s poet laureate Eloise Unerman said:

Barnsley Museums are keen to capture the emotional impact that the Covid-19 crisis is having on people across the whole borough.  Poetry is the perfect way to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise can be difficult to explain. We hope that the competition format will encourage everyone to take part, even those who haven’t written or shared a poem before. I have recorded a series of ‘Top-Tips for new writers’ to help people make a start.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said:

It is fantastic to see Barnsley’s poet laureate, Eloise Unerman, encouraging everyone to pick up a pen. Particularly given the pressures she has been facing in her other role as a 111 call operative. This competition is an exciting and inspiring opportunity for everyone in Barnsley to have their experience of the current crisis heard. The competition anthology will provide a record to help future generations understand what it meant to be living in Barnsley through the Covid-19 crisis and is a fitting companion project to Ian McMillan’s Lockdown Sonnets.