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Andrew Motion has generously agreed to be patron of the Lumen and Camden Poetry Series in aid of the homeless. When asked if he would like take on this role he replied: ‘I’m honoured and I’d be delighted.’ Despite his heavy work schedule he has also said he will judge the International Lumen and Camden Poetry Competition. The current competition is being judged by the acclaimed American poet Anne Stevenson, who has chaired the T S Eliot prize.

The contest will close on February 14th, when a winner will be chosen to have their short collection published by Ward Wood.

The Lumen and Camden Poetry series supports three cold weather shelters in the Camden and Kings Cross areas of London. By lending his support to this project, Andrew Motion will help attract audience to the twice monthly events that raise funds. The series supports poetry by providing a venue for publishers to present their poets, and it also helps new poets by inviting them to read at open mic at each event. Poems read at open mic can be submitted to be considered for the annual anthology, where famous poets donate poems and appear alongside the regulars who read from the audience. Every penny raised goes directly to the cold weather shelters where the events are held.

The cold weather is with us so do help support the three cold weather shelters assisted by the Lumen and Camden poetry project by coming to the events or entering the contest. You could also win publication of your own short collection. There’s less than a month to go until the closing date of February 14th, but the sooner you enter, the sooner the organisers can pass all money raised to the cold weather shelters.

Previous winners are Bob Cooper (2012) and Caroline Squire (2011), and their short collections An Apple Tree Spouts Philosophy and The Ideal Overcoat are on sale, with all £3 of the cover price going to the same charity. Nobody involved in organising this competition takes any income from it. The winner is chosen on the strength of just one poem, and as part of the prize they will be helped by a professional editor to complete a short paperback collection with 20 pages of poetry. They will also get an invitation to read in one of the popular Lumen and Camden venues, will receive 50 copies of their collection, and will be well promoted.

The entry fee has been kept deliberately low at £2.50 per poem (up to 40 lines) or £10 for six poems, so that everybody can enter. In its first two years the competition attracted around 1,000 entries each time, raising between £1,500 and £2,000 for the charity.

These poetry events raise thousands of pounds each year, and every year the organisers try to increase their support. The cold weather shelter managers say they couldn’t survive without the contribution made by poetry. The events and the competition are the brainchild of the poet Ruth O’Callaghan, who has been running the Lumen and Camden Poetry series of open mics and performances for six years.

The open mic events are held in the two venues where the homeless sleep in the cold weather shelters. They are at 1 Buck Street, Camden, and 88 Tavistock Place, Kings Cross, plus another shelter. A listing of events and information about the Lumen and Camden Poetry project is on



Judge: Anne Stevenson
Prize: Publication of short collection for one winner, 50 free copies, launch event and promotion.
Closing date February 14th 2013.
Poems up to 40 lines. Proceeds go to three London Homeless Cold Weather Shelters.
Entry fee: £2.50 per poem, 6 for £10.
Details on competition page.


Congratulations to Caroline Squire who has won the Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition with her poem ‘An Apple Tree Spouts Philosophy in an Office Car Park’. Carol Ann Duffy picked this poem as the winner from more than 1,000 poems entered. Over £2,000 was raised for the homeless in two North London Cold Weather Shelters and this competition will run again next year.

Caroline is now working with Ward Wood towards completing her 20 page chapbook which will be launched in early autumn. There will be a prizewinner’s reading from the pamphlet at the Camden and Lumen venues. Proceeds from sales of the pamphlet also go to support the Cold Weather Shelters, and you can pre-order from the Ward Wood Website or from the regular Camden and Lumen open mics.

An Apple Tree Spouts Philosophy
in an Office Car Park

by Caroline Squire

I am not particular on the subject of being shaken
and I wouldn’t give a whit if my offspring were chosen
to be drop-kicked. Nor would I mind terribly
if my June falls were served blithely from tennis rackets

as to be used in some way would be a relief.
It’s no good when your windfalls are brushed aside
and no-one looks up to admire your full achievements,
my speckled posies of rosy Starkrimsons.

Three harvests ago two office managers, suited and giggling
like flighty scholars, threw sticks into my branches,
tickling me nearly as pink as the pockets of fruit
with which they departed,

but nothing since. No step ladders, no children with carrier
bags, no mothers with ambitions for portions of stewed apple,
just this December rash of iced droppings. But I should do well
to consider my origins. I was a lucky seed, a happily ignored

sapling left to establish in a meadow, surviving drainage
and bulldozers and the view of glass buildings, and I fancy
I shall still be here when they’ve re-located, growing my bark
around the wire fence like a grin.

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