Free your verse with the Free Verse Poetry Competition

Free Verse Book Fair poetry competition Sorry – it’s not free to enter. That would be just too perfect. But it IS in a good cause, if you support the indie book fair that once a year presents thousands of small-press poetry books together under one roof, gives workshops and readings, and basically is the living spirit of poetry in action.

The fair will be on 17 September this year, at Conway Hall in London, so hold that date. And the competition is looking for short poems about love to welcome the fair-goers. ANY kind of love. (You can see the guidelines on the Free Verse website.) So this might be the moment to write that little elegy to your pet gerbil – and that’s a sort of freedom you don’t usually dare to have, isn’t it. I might wri – no, I can’t give it away…

The book fair was started  five years ago by the inestimable getter-of-things-done, Charles Boyle, who runs CB Editions – a very small press that punches very far above its weight in sheer literary oomph. It’s now run by the equally impressive energy and innovations of Chrissy Williams and Joey Connolly, and each year the fair seems to feature some new thing that wasn’t there before. One year they added an evening of readings after the fair, as well as those during the day. The next year they kept that and added workshops during the day. Now they’re keeping all that and adding the comp. It’s growing! It has changed the face of the poetry calendar in London (& beyond), growing as it did out of a real need that Charles spotted – the need for people to be able to actually see all these poetry books. Like a one-day big indie bookshop. Combined with seeing almost everyone you ever knew, meeting the publishers, and sitting in Red Lion Square with a coffee and a pile of new reading material… Always a great day out.

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