Lucy Vickery rss

Headshot of American country singer Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003) singing on stage in a still from the film, 'Johnny Cash - The Man, His World, His Music,' directed by Robert Elfstrom, 1969. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: When Ogden Nash met Johnny Cash (plus: brunch with Byron?)

11 April 2015 9:30

The latest brief was to submit irregular quatrains that bring together two people from the world of the arts and finish on a couplet describing the consequences. Popular couplings included… Continue reading

Richard Desmond of the Northern & Shell company at the headquarters of Express Newspapers in central London

Spectator competition: laments for lost newspapers (plus: historical characters’ desert island discs)

28 March 2015 9:30

In his 2004 book The Vanishing Newspaper Philip Meyer predicted that the final hard-copy newspaper will plop through someone’s letterbox in 2043. So who’ll be the first to go? In… Continue reading


Spectator competition: female chauvinist pigs on men behaving badly (plus: when Damon Runyon met John Bunyan…)

21 March 2015 9:30

There are man-haters everywhere, it seems, from children’s telly to high culture. Charges of sexism have been levelled against the creators of the Daddy Pig character in Peppa Pig —… Continue reading

John Betjeman. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: poets’ acrostics (plus: great bores of today)

14 March 2015 9:30

The most recent test of competitors’ skill, wit and ingenuity called for acrostics in the style of a well-known poet, where the first letters of each line spell out the… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: lines on Heaven and Hell (plus: compose a lament for a defunct newspaper)

7 March 2015 9:30

Nietzsche famously said that in Heaven ‘all the interesting people are missing’. To judge by the entries for the latest competition — which asked you to describe your idea of… Continue reading

Circa 1670, English diarist and reformer of the navy, Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a Pepys’-eye view of the 21st century (plus: female chauvinist authors)

28 February 2015 12:19

It was Samuel Pepys’s birthday this week and for the latest competition you were invited to imagine him let loose on the streets of 21st-century London and to provide a… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: ‘Shall I compare thee to a camembert?’ — new ways with Sonnet 18 (plus acrostic poets)

21 February 2015 9:30

The challenge to put a fresh spin on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 was the most popular competition for ages. The brief was to replace ‘summer’s day’ with a trisyllable of your… Continue reading


Spectator competition: pogonophobe or pogonophile? (plus: lines on heaven and hell)

15 February 2015 10:28

The beard has come a long way since the dark days of Mr Twit, Jimmy Hill and The Joy of Sex. As Ekow Eshun points out in his insightful essay… Continue reading

I see his face in every flower. Images: Getty

Spectator competition: ‘I really like Ed Miliband. Am I normal?’ Agony uncle Dan Brown responds (plus: a Samuel Pepys’-eye view of 21st-century London)

7 February 2015 8:30

The Japanese novelist-turned-agony uncle Haruki Murakami is currently dishing out advice to fans on topics that range from cats and hate speech to parenting and infidelity. The call to cast… Continue reading

Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: Ed Miliband’s bacon roll blues (plus: new ways with Sonnet 18)

31 January 2015 9:22

The most recent challenge asked for blues songs from well-known politicians contemplating the forthcoming general election. In a small but accomplished entry the Lib Dem leader dominated the stage. John… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Henry VIII’s bedroom tax (plus: poems about beards)

24 January 2015 9:30

In Competition No. 2881 you were invited to take your lead from Carol Ann Duffy and provide an amusing poem about a piece of government legislation. The first line of… Continue reading

Richard Dawkins. Could these blurbs make the bible his book of the year? Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Not Richard Dawkins’s Book of the Year (plus: literary agony uncles and aunts)

17 January 2015 9:15

The recent call for publicity blurbs that sell the bible to a modern audience attracted a host of new competitors as well as the old-timers. Kieran Corcoran’s entry presented Jesus… Continue reading

Circa 30 AD, Jesus Christ being kissed by Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed him. Original Publication: From 'The Judas Kiss' by Dore. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: another side of Judas Iscariot (plus: singing the election blues)

12 January 2015 18:30

The latest competition invited you to take a leaf out of Hilary Mantel’s book and provide a scene that shows a well-known villain from history or literature in an uncharacteristically… Continue reading

'Bedroom tax' report

Spectator competition: New Year haikus (plus: a poem about the bedroom tax)

6 January 2015 18:45

Your New Year challenge was to submit a poem composed of three haikus that looks forward to the year ahead. The traditional Japanese haiku contains 17 syllables in three unrhymed… Continue reading

'Micawber in his element' - Artist -  Fred Barnard  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: Mr Micawber’s Christmas round robin (plus: sell the Bible to modern audiences)

20 December 2014 9:30

This year’s festive comp asked for Christmas round robins as they might have been written by a well-known fictional character. It was all there: the boasts, bad jokes, inappropriate intimacies… Continue reading

John Betjeman. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: rapping poets laureate (plus: give a villain a makeover)

8 December 2014 18:00

The latest competition invited you to follow in the footsteps of Andrew Motion, who as poet laureate wrote a ‘rap’ to mark Prince William’s 21st birthday. It was bad enough… Continue reading

Hong Kong Customs Seize Endangered Species Cargo

Spectator competition: unlikely aphrodisiacs (plus: New Year haikus)

29 November 2014 9:30

It was ‘In Praise of Cocoa — Cupid’s Nightcap’ by that legend of the comping world Stanley J. Sharpless that gave me the idea for the most recent challenge, to… Continue reading

The slaying of the Jabberwock (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: ‘Jabberwocky’ for the digital age (plus: Christmas round robins from fictional characters)

22 November 2014 9:30

The call for scenes describing a well-known character from children’s literature past grappling with a 21st-century problem drew an entry full of wit and variety. Pamela Dow reimagined Louisa May… Continue reading

Love at second sight? The Pompidou Centre. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: buildings to love and hate (plus: rapping poet laureates)

15 November 2014 9:30

Buildings can provoke strong reactions and the call for poems in praise or dispraise of a well-known one produced a satisfyingly robust entry. Frank McDonald took me at my word… Continue reading

No thanks. E.E. Cummings. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: acknowledgment pages that say thanks but no thanks (plus: verse viagra)

8 November 2014 9:35

E.E. Cummings does the anti-dedication in style in his 1935 volume tellingly titled No Thanks, which he self-published with financial help from his mother. Its dedication page contains a concrete… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Autumn villanelles (plus: poems in praise or dispraise of well-known buildings)

26 October 2014 9:30

Stephen Fry is a fan of the villanelle — it was what inspired him to write his how-to book for poets, The Ode Less Travelled. And so are you, if… Continue reading

"William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21" by Leslie Ward - Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as "Men of the Day" Number 711.Downloaded from Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Spectator competition: tips of the slung — or poems as the Revd W.A. Spooner might have written them (plus: an author’s acknowledgments page with a twist)

18 October 2014 9:23

The diminutive, myopic Revd W.A. Spooner was the inspiration behind the recent call for Spooneristic poems. The long-time warden of New College, Oxford bequeathed us such comic gems as ‘The… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: a magical realist shipping forecast (plus: a dialogue in verse between God and man)

11 October 2014 9:43

Since the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez earlier this year, I have been meaning to set a comp with a magical realist twist and I finally got around to it… Continue reading

By Rudyard Kipling (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Spectator competition: a final ‘if’ for Kipling’s ‘If’ (plus: compose an autumn villanelle)

4 October 2014 9:29

The call to add a final stanza to a well-known poem attracted an enormous entry. Nicholas Stone imagined how Coleridge might have continued had it not been for the intrusion… Continue reading

"William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21" by Leslie Ward - Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as "Men of the Day" Number 711.Downloaded from Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Spectator competition: when prose and poetry meet (plus: verse in the manner of Revd W.A. Spooner)

27 September 2014 9:30

The challenge to pick a well-known poem and write a short story with the same title using the poem’s opening and closing lines to begin and end the piece drew… Continue reading