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A new competition is celebrating key workers through poetry – here’s how to enter

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As twelve months pass since the beginning of the pandemic, we are more aware than ever of the vital role key workers play in keeping the country running smoothly and the population safe.

But many key worker still do not receive enough recognition, and a new poetry competition is hoping to change that.

Poetry for Good will ask entrants to create both written and spoken word poetry in celebration of the contribution of key workers. Launched by Clean for Good, an award-winning ethically conscious cleaning business, the competition will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Entries are free, with submissions open until Friday 9 April and winners announced at the end of April. Submissions will be split into three categories: Written Word and Spoken Word, which are both open to anyone aged 16 or over, and Growing Word, for younger entrants aged 11-15.

Three acclaimed poets will be choosing the winners: Cecilia Knapp, the London Young People’s Laureate for 2021, Rachel Long, founder of poetry collective Octavia, who has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, Forward Prize for Poetry, and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and Katherine Lockton, Editor of South Bank Poetry.

The judges have also been commissioned to write their own piece celebrating key workers exclusively for the competition.

Speaking about the commission, Knapp explained: “It was an honour to be asked to write a poem in celebration of our key workers and shine a light on the invaluable work they do to keep this country going.

“I believe poetry to be a tool for celebration, for empathy and connection and so a poem of thanks and recognition felt like the perfect way to elevate the vital role that key workers play,” she added.

Katherine Lockton

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“I’m all about bringing poetry into unexpected settings and bringing poetry into the mainstream a bit more, to show that poetry can and should be for everyone, so partnering with a cleaning company to write this piece and to judge their competition, although unusual, is exactly what I’m about.”

Tim Thorlby, Managing Director of Clean for Good, said of the decision to launch the competition: “The last year has been tough for many – including our team of cleaners in London. We’re embarking upon this unusual collaboration because we wanted to highlight and celebrate the work of the millions of key workers in this country.

Rachel Long

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“Poetry has a way of cutting through to people in new ways. We hope that the competition will open the hearts and minds of more people to the crucial role that our key workers play and the pressing need to give them the fair pay and respect they deserve.”

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