National poetry competition celebrating key workers unveiled

News - Prizes Wednesday, 3rd March 2021

Cecilia Knapp, Rachel Long and Katherine Lockton to judge written and spoken word entries in Poetry for Good

Clean for Good, an 'award-winning ethically conscious cleaning business', is launching Poetry for Good, the first ever nation-wide poetry competition calling for entries that celebrate the vital role of the UK’s key workers.

According to organisers: 'From teachers to delivery drivers, and from office cleaners to nurses, the UK’s millions of key workers have been keeping our nation safe, well and on the move over the past year. But key workers serve our nation like this every year, often on a low pay and rarely being offered the recognition they deserve. Poetry for Good aims at making a contribution to raising the profile of their work and recognising their value.'

The competition is free to enter, with submissions open until Friday 9 April and winners announced at the end of April. Entries are open in three categories: Written Word – written poems from those aged 16 or more; Spoken Word – spoken poetry from those aged 16 or more; Growing Word – written poems for those aged 11-15.

Poetry for Good will be judged by Cecilia Knapp, the new London Young People’s Laureate for 2021; Rachel Long, who has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, Forward Prize for Poetry and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and is the Founder of Octavia, the Poetry Collective for Women of Colour; and Katherine Lockton, editor of South Bank Poetry.

Knapp (pictured) said: "It was an honour to be asked to write a poem in celebration of our key workers and shine a light on the invaluable work they do to keep this country going. I believe poetry to be a tool for celebration, for empathy and connection and so a poem of thanks and recognition felt like the perfect way to elevate the vital role that key workers play. I’m all about bringing poetry into unexpected settings and bringing poetry into the mainstream a bit more, to show that poetry can and should be for everyone, so partnering with a cleaning company to write this piece and to judge their competition, although unusual, is exactly what I’m about."

Tim Thorlby, managing director of Clean for Good, said: "The last year has been tough for many – including our team of cleaners in London. We’re embarking upon this unusual collaboration because we wanted to highlight and celebrate the work of the millions of key workers in this country. Poetry has a way of cutting through to people in new ways. We hope that the competition will open the hearts and minds of more people to the crucial role that our key workers play and the pressing need to give them the fair pay and respect they deserve."

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