Poetry Object Competition

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What's the competition?
Poetry Object is a free national poetry writing competition for students and teachers. The poem has to be inspired by a talismanic object that is special to you. You have free choice of genre and form, and you should write no more than 20 lines. If you love details, here's the full pdf.

What happens to my entry?
All entries are published online. Winning and commended poems will be exhibited at Big Fat Smile Gallery in November (exhibition opens November 12th), published on The Red Room Company website, and excerpts will be put on posters in Sydney trains. Winning poems receive a $1,000 travel voucher, a digital poetry workshop, and judging commendations & a poetry prize pack.po skate.jpg

Can I see previous entries?
Absolutely, just go here.

What is the judge looking for?
The judge is celebrated poet Jill Jones. She says she's looking for poems "that aim for surprise and take risks, poems that see things/objects in a new way ... that work with the senses ... I welcome poems that play with form, not through stock standard rhyme and metre patterns, but in more unexpected ways ... surprise yourself, and explore what interests you, puzzles you, draws you to, or scares you about, the object ... Ask yourself what may be the mystery of the object ... think about whether you want a minimal version, or a surreal version, a playful version, an emotional reverberation ... looking for poems that show the many ways to experience the object in time as well as in place."

What is a talismanic object?
A talismanic object is an object that is special to just you. It might be because of what is says about your history, culture, family, or any thing else of significance to you for personal or secret reasons. You want your poem to describe your talismanic object for a reader who is unfamiliar with it and to explain to the reader the object's value to you.

Choosing your talismanic object
At home, walk silently through your room and notice whether anything invites you to pick it up. Open cupboards and boxes and draws and treasure chests and wardrobes and see what evokes an emotional response. It could be a stone you found in the crevice of a playground, a lost tooth, a handmade gift, your grandparent's crumpled cake recipe. Remember you will need to bring your object to class (or a photograph of it if it is too valuable and precious).
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Activities to Stir Up Creativity
In the pdf below, in addition to example poems, is a range of activities. Your teacher will likely work through some of these with you, and perhaps some of their own activities. They are designed to help begin your creative process and they include:
  • Reading a poem in different voices and examining how it made you feel, what it made you see, and what techniques were used by the poet and comparing those with the poet's intentions.po gorilla.jpg
  • Playing with form (eg a pantoum and an ekphrastic poem).
  • Responding to cues (eg a Frida Kahlo painting).
  • Listing what's important about an object.
  • Giving an object magical powers.
  • Cutting up a poem.
  • Free writing about a gift and the giver and using the best bits to make a poem.


In the pdf below there are examples of talismanic poems, examples of student talismanic objects, and more activities to try including:
  • A class poem.
  • Getting to know your object.
There are also instructions on how to use your practise material (your pre writing) to write your poem.


You will have a guest poet, Kathryn Hummel, coming in to workshop with three Year 10 classes Wednesday Week 7 lessons 3 & 4. She will go through:
  • An introduction
  • An observation and writing exercise
  • Some analysis
  • A mindfulness and writing exercise
  • Some techniques: metaphor, metonymy, structure
  • Presentation skills: refining work, media, performance

Poetry walk:

Competition Entry
Once you have finished these activities you will have a portfolio of poems. You can either write a fresh poem for the competition or use one from your portfolio. Crafting, drafting, and redrafting your poem will be essential. There is a drafting exercise at the end of the activities pdf. Remember, the poem you write must be about the talismanic object you have brought to class. PS - Teachers can enter too!

Due Date
Due dates will vary depending on when the class was able to start work on this competition and what other work they have on the go. Take careful note of your class' due date.po teeth.jpg
  • Ms Hunt - Friday Week 9 September 23rd
  • Ms Grear - Monday Week 9 September 19th
  • Mr Bartholomeusz - Monday Week 8 September 12th
  • Ms McKenzie - Wednesday Week 9 September 21st