WINCHESTER pupils have helped a former Poet Laureate launch a new poetry competition.

The children from The Westgate and Twyford schools were treated to Sir Andrew Motion reading poems at the Holiday Inn, Morn Hill last Friday. (FEB 27) The children were encouraged to ask questions and Sir Andrew gave them advice on how to enter the competition.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire’s Countryside Poetry Competition is now open to children who live or go to school in Hampshire and challenges them to write creatively about the countryside. It is free to enter and poems should not exceed 300 words.

In attendance were sponsor, Gemma Lacey of The Southern Cooperative, Hampshire poet Joan McGavin and Hampshire Life Editor, Elizabeth Barnett.

Sir Andrew is president of the CPRE and is passionate about encouraging young people to engage with their surroundings.

Whatever the meaning of a poem, Sir Andrew told the pupils, its success has as much to do with its sound as its written sense on the page. His own voice was mesmerising and he inspired the children and adult attendees alike as he read two poems aloud.

He said: “The palace of poetry has thousands of different rooms in it and, as poets, you have at your beck and call a number of tricks which are unique to you when you are writing. Remember, too, that the best poems tend to be written by people who are using their five senses. If you get that right, you will be making something that gets people to say: “Yes, that’s right – that’s what it feels like.”

Steve Brine, MP attended with his own young son and daughter and explained that poetry has been something he’s enjoyed since school days.

Joan McGavin, the official Hampshire Poet said: “What a great idea this competition is! There is something for poets of all ages this year, and we also have a new Winchester Poetry Festival in September.”

The first prize winners will have their poem published in Hampshire Life magazine and on the CPRE Hampshire website. Winners will each receive a framed certificate signed by Sir Andrew Motion, as well as a book token. They will also be invited to attend a ceremony in September for the charity’s separate CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards presentations.

Entries will be judged by Gemma Lacey of The Southern Cooperative, Hampshire poet, Joan McGavin and Hampshire Life Editor, Elizabeth Barnett. The winning poems will be sent to Sir Andrew for him to read.

For full category and entry details, please visit or Like CPRE Hampshire on Facebook. Closing date for entries is midnight on June 30.