Tag Archives: writing competition

Angry Ghost Poetry Competition – Results

Thank you so much to everyone who entered.

It was incredibly hard to choose but, after much soul-searching, I came up with this list.

The first three poets have given permission for me to share their poems lower down the page.

The highly commended poets and all other entrants are invited to share their work on Suffolk Writers Group on Facebook, together with a picture of their historical character. I really hope some of you do so. The poems deserve a wider audience. (Please note: if you’re intending to submit your work to a magazine or another competition, you may be disqualified if you share it on social media.)

The Winners

Will Kempe by Fiona Clark – First Place

Raedwald’s Crew by Katie Simpson – Second Place

Charles Darwin by Jon Platten – Third Place

Highly Commended

Robert The Bruce by Sharon Hulm

Salieri by Hemant Doshi

Van Gogh by Carole Ferguson

Rene Descartes by Dayle Olson

Benjamin Franklin by Adrian Frost


For the Winner

The Angry Ghost trophy

A £20 book voucher

A poetry book donated by Stillwater Books and homemade jam from Cuppa.

A signed copy of Thirty Angry Ghosts

The opportunity to share the poem at the Cuppa event

A free event ticket

For Second and Third Placed Poets

A Thirty Angry Ghosts Certificate

A £10 book voucher

Homemade jam from Cuppa

A signed copy of Thirty Angry Ghosts

The opportunity to share the poem at the Cuppa event

A free event ticket

For the Highly Commended Poets

A Thirty Angry Ghosts Certificate

Ghost-themed chocolate

The opportunity to share the poem at the Cuppa event

Available from all major outlets, including Stillwater Books in Felixstowe

To keep up with Angry Ghost events and activities, join Suffolk Writers Group on Facebook and/or follow maiblackwriter on Instagram and Twitter.

The winning poets, and some of the highly commended poets, will share their work at the Cuppa event following performances from Thirty Angry Ghosts.

The Three Winning Poems

Will Kempe

Who summons me from my eternal rest?

Will Kempe’s the name ; my aged bones are cold;

I spent my life in merry jigs and jests,

But customs alter and my jokes grew old.

Why am I here, if you’ve not conjured me?

Suppose YOU didn’t raise me from the dead-

I’ll wager t’was Will Shakespeare’s devilry-

That OTHER Will: though that’s not what he said-

Listen –  he wasn’t always famous. No!

They thronged to theatres chiefly to see ME,

They gaped to watch the great comedian grow

In fame ( and girth! ) and see my Dogberry.

They came to see my Bottom, when all’s done-

My jig with feisty heart and feet like feathers!

The theatre’s all about a bit of fun-

They came for laughter- cheered me in all weathers!

You see, he did me down, that other Will-

I spoke for him, in anger, when they sneered,

Those educated men, who snigger still-

“A country lad, an upstart crow”, they jeered.

But Will got mean – “ No more extempore!

 You’ll play my Falstaff, sticking to the script!”

(Best role I’d ever played, I have to say-

That boist’rous pudding-bellied hypocrite! )

In time, it rankled that I wasn’t free-

“Will, stuff your scripting where the sun don’t shine!”

“I know thee not, old man,” at last, says he.

Turns heel on me and all that once was mine.

So, off I went and danced my nine days jig,

 From London town to Norwich in the East.

For Shakespeare and his works, gave not a fig.

The roaring crowds, they filled my lusty breast.

Kempe’s Nine Days Wonder was so quickly done,

That faithless Shakespeare never thought of me-

 I died at last, from want of food, alone-

In Bread Street. Now THAT was an irony.

By Fiona Clark

William Kempe : potted biography.

Will Kempe (c. 1560 – c.1603).

Will Kempe was an English actor and dancer, well known for playing comic roles in Shakespeare’s plays, such as Peter in “ Romeo and Juliet” , Dogberry in “ Much Ado About Nothing” and Nick Bottom, the Weaver, in “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. He may also have played the role of Falstaff. It is notable that Shakespeare wrote no part for Falstaff in his Henry V, after Kempe’s departure from the theatre company.

So successful was Kempe, that he became one of the core of actor-shareholders in the Lord Chamberlain’s  Men in December 1598, together with Shakespeare and Richard Burbage. However, there was a falling-out between Kempe and the rest of the group, causing Kempe to leave in early 1599. The most likely cause of the quarrel was Kempe’s love of “ ad-libbing” or speaking “ extempore “, whereas Shakespeare preferred his actors to stick to the script!

We have good evidence for Shakespeare’s views on the topic in “ Hamlet”, Act  3, Scene 2, where Hamlet voices a famous complaint about improvisational acting.

After Kempe left the company, he undertook his “ Nine Days Wonder”- in which he morris danced from London to Norwich ( 110 miles), on nine days spread over several weeks during February to March in 1600. Later that year, he published his own lively account of the feat, to defy false reports from other sources.

Sadly, the evidence suggests that Kempe probably died in poverty, in Southwark in 1603.


The reference in my poem to Shakespeare as an “ upstart crow” echoes Robert Greene( 1558- 1592). In his pamphlet “ A Groatsworth of Wit” ( 1592) , Greene almost certainly intended  these words to refer to Shakespeare, a non- university educated outsider, and to accuse him of plagiarism : “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers”.  

The phrase “ upstart crow” has been immortalised in the title of Ben Elton’s 2016 TV series, starring David Mitchell as Shakespeare.


RAEDWALD’S CREW                    

Maybe at night,

when the tides are right,

I slip your boat’s lines,

haul those long oars

and steal away.

A soundless boat

and a formless rower

with a warrior’s strength.

Just to feel the pull

of the oars through the water

once more,

to hear the lap of the waves

on the hull

and remember,

the roar

as we hauled together,

the swift slip of the sleekness

of the maiden we gave life,

in the hope and prayer

that she in turn

would keep ours safe.

My roar

rumbles across the river

like thunder,

as my heart rages,

for my crewmates-


But I return your little boat,

before dawn creeps

across the water.

A ship is a ship

and she deserves safe harbour.

So here she lies,

in the shadow of our king’s


By Katie Simpson


Charles Darwin

Disquisition Upon the Survival of the Fittest Natural Scientists, Relative to the General Population, in an Era of Climate Catastrophe (I Will Survive)

At first I was a doctor, so unsatisfied,

Kept thinking I could never learn with patients by my side.

But then I spent so many nights engrossed in entomology                        

And I grew strong

And I proposed a new theory.

Pin your ears back,

O human race –

I’ll just walk in and lecture you through this huge beard upon my face:

You should all change your stupid ways,

You should all help humanity,

If you can learn to work together, you’ll evolve successfully.

Go on now, go, to Ecuador,

Observe the finch now –

It does not prosper anymore.

That climate change has got you fried and your Armageddon’s nigh

Your earth will crumble,

Your race will lay down and die.

But no, not I, I will survive.

Unless you humans can evolve, your species will not thrive.

I’ve had all my life to live,

I’ve still got all my brains to give, so I’ll survive,

I will survive. Hey, hey.

Pre-evolution theories had to fall apart

As I laboured to apply my sage researcher’s art.

And I spent oh-so many nights just reading textbooks from the shelf,

I used to sigh

But now I hold my book up high.

And you see me –

Ex-Beagle crew –

I’m not that trainee little parson still in love with zoos.

Because I want to change the world, I studied entomology

And now I’m saving our fine planet for creatures who follow me.

Go on, now, go, give up on war.

Give peace a chance now

So your species may endure.

That climate change has got you fried, and your Armageddon’s nigh,

Your earth will crumble,

Your race will lay down and die.

But no, not I, I will survive, hey, hey.

By Jon Platten


Thanks again to all the people who entered. I really appreciate the time you dedicated to your entries.

I’m so proud that my book and this competition have sparked so much creativity.

For details of my weekly Suffolk writing group and other local activities, please check back regularly to suffolkwritersgroup.com where you can also find my email address.

Best wishes,

Mai x

Available from Stillwater Books, Amazon and all other major retail outlets. It will also be available to purchase at the Cuppa event.

Angry Ghost Poetry Competition

(Competition is currently closed for entries)

Can you imagine yourself as the ghost of a famous historical figure? Can you write an angry poem in their voice?

For example, you could write as Oliver Cromwell raging against modern-day Christmas celebrations, Emily Pankhurst railing against women who don’t vote, or Einstein decrying the creation of nuclear weapons.

Here is a list of other historical characters who would leave behind angry ghosts courtesy of the ‘Horrible Histories’ team and here are some other sources of inspiration from me.

Poems should be sent to angryghostscomp@gmail.com by Monday 12th September 2022


A trophy for the winner

£20 book voucher for the winner and £10 for each of the two runners up

The opportunity to read your work at the prize-giving event at Cuppa in Felixstowe. Alternatively, you can ask for it to be read by one of the actors pictured below. (The ticket site will be active soon at http://www.cuppa.wtf/angryghosts)

A poetry book (below) donated by Stillwater Books and homemade jam from Cuppa.

Signed copies of ‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’

Winning poems and poets to be featured in the local press and on local radio.

The winner receives a £20 book voucher, this poetry anthology (donated by Stillwater Books), homemade jam (donated by Cuppa) and a signed copy of Thirty Angry Ghosts.

Terms and Conditions

Entries must be sent to angryghostscomp@gmail.com before Monday 12th September 2022.

The competition is aimed primarily at adults but younger poets are welcome to enter with the permission of a parent or carer.

Entrants must be able to travel to Cuppa (Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK) for the prize-giving on Saturday 8th October 2022. (Click here for Cuppa’s website.)

Poems must not exceed 300 words (no minimum)

Entries should not have been published elsewhere.

The copyright of each entry remains with the author, but by entering you give your consent for me to share winning and highly commended poems on social media and in the local press.

You can enter only one poem.

Entry is free but you may gain an advantage from reading Mai Black’s Thirty Angry Ghosts, which is available to buy at most bookshops and online here.

Poems should not take the voice of somebody already featured in Thirty Angry Ghosts.

Poems may use any style or form.

Poems may be rhymed or unrhymed.

The poem can either be attached as a Word or PDF document or pasted into the main body of the email.

Please include your name and contact details in your email, not on the attachment.

Entries will be judged anonymously by Mai Black with administrative assistance from Simon Black. No correspondence will be entered into except to thank you for your entry, share details of the prize-giving event, and to announce the winners.

Winning and highly commended poems will be announced on or before Friday 30th September 2022.

Good luck!

To keep up with competition news, related workshops and other Angry Ghost events, join ‘Suffolk Writers Group’ on Facebook and/or follow maiblackwriter on Instagram and Twitter.

To donate to the actors at the Cuppa performance on Saturday, October 8th, please use this link. https://paypal.me/MaiBlack

There will also be a monetary collection on the night.

The lineup for October’s Cuppa Performance
(To be followed by readings from the winners and shortlisted poets after the break)