Competition launched to celebrate links between poetry and fashion

A picture of the poet Anne Sexton

The poet Anne Sexton in 1974

A researcher at the University of Liverpool’s Department of English has launched a competition for aspiring young poets to write poetry about clothes.

Dr Sophie Oliver is co-curator of Poets in Vogue, a unique exhibition currently on at the National Poetry Library at London’s Southbank Centre. This free exhibition brings together the fashion worlds and poetic work of seven women poets through a series of displays, including an iconic tartan skirt owned and worn by Sylvia Plath.

Following the success of the exhibition, curators Sophie Oliver and Sarah Parker (Loughborough University) have set up a new challenge for young poets, aged up to 25, to write their own poems about clothing and fashion, in collaboration with the Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network.

The winning poet will get the chance to perform their poem at a special event in London in September and will receive exclusive Young Poets Network merchandise.

Dr Sophie Oliver, Lecturer in English said: “Many poems over the years have been inspired by clothes, which can evoke strong feelings and memories, and offer everyday imagery and interesting metaphors. Such poems show that dress is far from a meaningless or trivial topic. What we wear can reflect who we are and who we want to be.

“That’s why we’ve collaborated with the Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network to encourage young poets to write poems about clothes. It’s such a wide-ranging subject, and one that everyone has a connection to, and we look forward to reading the entries!

“Visit the Young Poets Network website for inspiration, a virtual walk through of the Poets in Vogue exhibition and to find out more.”

A picture of a mannequin wearing a red dress

Competition information

This challenge is for all writers aged up to 25 based anywhere in the world. The deadline is 23:59 GMT on Monday 31 July 2023. You can send a poem or poems written down, or as video or audio files. If you are submitting video or audio files, please also submit a text version.

You can find out more information about the competition, some advice on ideas and how to enter here.

The Poets in Vogue exhibition is on at London’s Southbank Centre until 10 September 2023. Find out more here.