Spirited Poetry

The competition has now closed. Thank you to all who have entered, we will be judging the entries over the summer. Watch this space for announcement of winners in the new term.

On three previous occasions, we have received thousands of exciting entries for a contest that showed the ways RE and poetry can connect. We are pleased to announce a third Spirited Poetry competition, coinciding with National Poetry Day on 4 October and World Poetry Day on 21 March 2019.

We have run extremely successful competitions in 2006, 2008 and 2011. There was even a book about the contest. Take a look at the work of past entrants here.

This year’s competition will be run over three terms. This will allow schools to have it as a focal point for National Poetry Day this year and/or World Poetry Day next year. Schools are invited to send in up to ten poems in one of the categories or in a variety of them. Entrance is open to children and young people aged 5–19, and the closing date for the competition is 31 July 2019.

Step 1 - Choose a theme

There are five themes to choose from, entries are open to 5-19 year old's.

Pilgrimages and journeys.

What are the significant journeys you make as a family, as a school or as a religious or non-religious community? To the beach, a significant location, a school ceremony, a place of pilgrimage? Why are these journeys significant? Are they even pilgrimages? What do you think you or others get from taking these journeys or pilgrimages? What places are significant to you around your school or neighbourhood? Are any of those places sacred places?

Questions, questions.

RE is all about questions, and this theme invites poetry that asks, explores and wrestles with ‘ultimate’ big questions. Who? What? Where? How? Why? Why not?

Where is God?

Atheists, agnostics and believers in God might all respond to this by expressing their sense of the search or the find. Where’s God? In your heart, in prayer, in the temple or in the universe? Or is she hiding? Is he not there at all? Looking for God, searching for him or her, matters – but how are we doing in finding God?

Window on the soul.

This theme encourages children and young people to dream and imagine the spirit and soul. If they look through a window in mind or soul into the ‘big beyond’, what will they see? Does the ‘window of the soul’ open in life, through music, by spiritual discipline, or only at death? Does the spirit or the soul even exist?

Mystery of life.

This theme invites children and young people to express their own ideas about the puzzles, mysteries and imponderables of life. So much we don’t know, so much that inspires, so much that is mysterious, so much that might make you rejoice or grieve about life ... Where to begin?

Step 2 - Read the competition rules

  • NATRE will award 15 prizes to the best young poets, and their schools will receive a complimentary book from RE Today.
  • NATRE will publish the results of the competition and a selection of winning and commended entries on its website for any school to use in the future in RE.
  • The English curriculum provides some great opportunities to work with religious and spiritual poetry in the English lesson, and to connect RE with poetry and wider aspects of literacy.
  • Poems submitted become the property of NATRE, and may be used for publication; credit will be given to the young poets and their schools.
  • Schools may send up to ten poems for judges’ consideration. Some internal school-based judging is usually advisable to select those submitted for the national competition. Subject staff in English as well as RE are a good source for judges, as are governors with an interest in this area.
  • Poems should not be longer than 30 lines.
  • National Poetry Day and World Poetry Day coincide with this competition and present a good opportunity for RE and English to work together.

Step 3 - Run the competition in your school

  • Have fun!
  • If you're looking for some ideas to introduce the competition in your classroom, download our free resources:
    Which theme will you choose?
    Flexibility with poetry structures
    Facing your giants with David and Goliath: Poetry inspired by the heroics of Israel
    Similes (and metaphors!)

Step 4 - Submit your entries

  • Complete the online form to register your entries and note down your reference number.
  • Email your entries to competition@natre.org.uk OR post your entries to 5-6 Imperial Court, 12 Sovereign Rd, Birmingham, B30 3FH
  • All entries must be clearly marked with the following:

School name
School address
Teacher name
Email address
Pupil name
Pupil age
Theme of entry (select from drop-down list)
Reference number

We look forward to receiving some wonderful, inspirational and unique work from your pupils. Please get in contact if you have further questions competition@natre.org.uk.