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Angels & Devils Poetry Competition

April 2, 2011

By Holland Park Press

Later this year we will publish Angel, the English translation of Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s Engel and to celebrate this event we are holding a poetry competition Angels & Devils.

We all have relatives and this conjures up a wide range of emotions from the very good to the most awful; let this be your poetic inspiration.

We are delighted to announce that Donald Gardner will be judging this competition assisted by the Dutch publishing advisor and the publisher.

The Task

You are asked to write a poem of no more than 30 lines about family relationships. You can write in English or Dutch.

We are looking for poems that look at one’s relatives in an original way; we are especially interested in poems that use a personal experience to create general empathy.

To help you on your way here are a few examples of poetry dealing with relationships and we hope they will inspire you.

In Angel the protagonist writes this poem about his mother:


eternal unkilling
of dying fathers

babbling aunties
wasting precious time

who now snaps his laces
their hibernation dissolving

sunday is out
she happily puts on her lipstick

thinking back when she was but young
being young   when all still belonged

standing there forever frozen
phoning her child

Well of course relations provide you with an infinite source of material. Poets have put this to good use and for a wonderful example, think of the opening lines of Philip Larkin’s famous poem This Be The Verse:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.

Another example which may be helpful is from the collection Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes, in which he reminiscences about his wife Sylvia Plath:

The dark ate at you. And the fear
Of being crushed. ‘A huge dark machine’.
‘The grinding indifferent
Millstone of circumstance’.

Provided it touches on relationships, everything goes, happy or sad, touching or funny, as long as it expresses your original voice in content as well as form.

What is the prize?

The author of the winning poem will receive £100 plus the winning poem will be published in our online magazine.

Because we invite entries in Dutch and English, two poems will be awarded the first prize, one English and one Dutch poem. For the benefit of our English readers the winning Dutch poem will be translated into English and published in both languages in our magazine.

Who can take part?

Anyone who submits an entry that complies with these guidelines:

•    The poem has to be written in English or Dutch
•    The poem should be 30 lines or less
•    The poem must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been previously awarded or published
•    You can only send in one poem per entrant

When is the closing date?

You can send in your entries from the 2 April 2011 and the competition closes on 31 December 2011.

How to submit your entry

In order to enter the competition you have to email us. We regret that we cannot process entries that do not follow the guidelines set out below, so please read these instructions carefully.

  • The poem must be attached as a single Microsoft Word file
  • You need to use Word 97-2003 file type (.doc extension not .docx)
  • The font should be 12-point, Times New Roman, single line spacing
  • The Word file has to be named as follows: ddmmyy_firstnamesurname_AD.doc, where ddmmyy is the date on which you send the email, firstname and surname are your names.
  • Ddmmyy firstnamesurname AD must appear in the subject line of the email
  • The body of the email should contain your contact details
  • Email to: submissions AT hollandparkpress DOT co DOT uk

The Judges

Donald Gardner

Donald Gardner, born in London in 1938, is a poet and freelance Dutch translator. He has lived in Holland since 1979 and is the translator of the eminent Dutch poet and author Remco Campert. (I Dreamed in the Cities at Night, Arc Publications, 2007) He was originally a translator of Latin American literature and his published work includes an acclaimed translation of Octavio Paz’s long poem The Sun Stone (Cosmos, 1968). Donald Gardner’s own poems have been widely published and his most recent collections include How to Get the Most out of your Jet Lag (Ye Olde Font Shoppe, New Haven, 2000) and The Glittering Sea (Hearing Eye Press, 2006). He is also well known for his performances of his poetry in Amsterdam, London and New York.

Arnold Jansen op de Haar

Arnold is the publishing advisor for Dutch literature for Holland Park Press and the author of several novels De koning van Tuzla (King of Tuzla), Engel (Angel) and a poetry collection Joegoslavisch requiem (Yugoslav Requiem) as well as other books, numerous columns and articles.

Bernadette Jansen op de Haar

Bernadette is the publisher and founder of Holland Park Press. She is delighted to organise this competition and is looking forward to reading your poems.