A national poetry competition launched recently calling on talented writers from across the country to get their thinking caps on.

And the fourth annual Northern Ireland Poetry Competition has £800 up for grabs as a first prize.

The theme of this year’s competition is LIGHT, as declared by the nationwide organisers of National Poetry Day initiative and this year’s prize fund will offer three local poets a chance to win – £450 for first prize, £250 for second and £150 for third.

Chair of the Judges, award winning published poet, Paul Maddern, of The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This is a tremendous initiative which gives poets across Northern Ireland the opportunity to celebrate their work and engage with other poets in a very unique way. I was involved in the inaugural competition and I’m proud to see how the competition has grown.

“At my own father’s funeral we recited poetry and hymns and the written word offers a sense of comfort and healing which we are sure we will see from the entrants of this year’s competition.”

Paul will be joined on the judging panel by Damian Smyth of Arts Council NI, Colin Dardis of Poetry NI, the current winner of the competition, Mark Cooper from Belfast, last year’s winner, Ross Thompson from Bangor and Beverley Brown of Funeral Services Northern Ireland.

Entrants will be invited to a recital in Parliament Buildings Stormont on National Poetry Day (Thursday, October 8) hosted by BBC Arts Show presenter Marie-Louise Muir.

The competition is organised by Funeral Services Northern Ireland and deadline for entry is midnight on September 13.

For more information log onto www.fsni-nationalpoetry.comp.

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