Lucy Vickery

An engraving of John Milton. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Spectator competition winners: Pam Ayres meets John Milton

30 January 2016 9:30

The latest brief, to submit up to 16 lines of verse that are the fruit of a collaboration between two…


Spectator competition winners: Jeeves, Godot and The Lady of Shalott on the psychiatrist’s couch

25 January 2016 18:30

The call for psychiatric reports on a well-known figure in literature pulled in a large and entertaining entry. Shakespearean characters…

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Spectator competition winners: macaronic poetry

16 January 2016 9:30

The latest challenge was to compose up to 16 lines of macaronic verse. A dictionary of poetic terms will tell…

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a climate summit in Paris. Image: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

Spectator competition: acrostic predictions for the next decade

9 January 2016 9:30

The latest competition was a technical challenge with a bit of soothsaying thrown in. You were asked for an acrostic…


Spectator competition: Tips for writing ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letters

31 December 2015 10:10

The new year challenge was to compose a thank-you letter for a particularly unenjoyable Christmas visit to relatives that manages…


Spectator competition winners: poems about HS2

7 December 2015 18:30

The idea to ask for poems about HS2 came to me as I was listening on YouTube to W.H. Auden’s…

Tracey Emin's 'My Bed'. Picture: Getty Images

Revealed: winners of the Spectator’s bad sex awards

21 November 2015 9:30

In a challenge inspired by the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction award, competitors were invited to submit a libido-dampening…

The Viking 1 orbiter's view of Mars. Source: Nasa

Spectator competition: poems from Mars (plus: verses on HS2)

14 November 2015 9:40

The latest challenge was to describe an everyday object, in verse, from the point of view of a Martian. James…

Winston Churchill poses for the cameras in the grounds of the White House, wearing his 'siren suit', a one-piece garment of his own design, 17th January 1942. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: new garments and their definitions, plus: write a wintry short story

9 November 2015 18:30

The idea for the latest challenge was sent in by a reader who, inspired by the emergence of the ‘slanket’,…


Spectator competition: clerihews about fictional characters (plus: bad sex award)

2 November 2015 18:30

The clerihew is a comic four-line (AABB) biographical poem characterised by metrical irregularity and awkward rhyme. The first line is…

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Spectator competition: the novel that John Lennon might have written (plus: martian poetry)

25 October 2015 11:38

The latest challenge was to submit an extract from a novel written by a rock star of your choosing. I…

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Spectator competition winners: twisting poetry classics

18 October 2015 18:10

The recent invitation to write a poem that begins with the first line or two lines of a well-known poem…

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Spectator competition: threesomes six ways (plus: clerihews for fictional characters)

10 October 2015 9:45

The call for poems composed entirely of three-letter words certainly ruffled some feathers. ‘This is the most difficult comp you…

Andrew Marvell. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Andrew Marvell’s coy mistress has her say (plus: rock star novelists)

3 October 2015 9:45

The invitation to step into the shoes of Andrew Marvell’s coy mistress attracted a jumbo entry. Clearly lots of you…

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Spectator competition: the Lion, the Witch and the Ikea Wardrobe (plus: take a poem in a new direction)

28 September 2015 18:30

The latest challenge was all about writers selling their souls to the corporate giants. Competitors were asked to recast a…

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Spectator competition: when El Greco was pissed on prosecco and Bosch got nude in Bude (plus: three-letter word poems)

19 September 2015 9:30

The call for limericks featuring a well-known artist and a destination of your choice was prompted by one that Robert…


Spectator competition: a plate of corbynara with your lucasaid, anyone? (plus: a reply from his coy mistress)

14 September 2015 18:15

The late Sir Keith Joseph once gave a speech in which he said that the government was trying to ‘Bennboozle’…

Oliver Dickens, 9, looks at the newly installed statue of his great, great, great grandfather, Charles Dickens at Guildhall Square in Portsmouth. Image: CHRIS ISON/AFP/Getty Images

Spectator competition: how Charles Dickens did at school (must try harder); plus: rebranded classics

5 September 2015 9:29

The recent invitation to submit an extract from the school report of a well-known author, living or dead went down…

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Spectator competition: Spammity Spam! Wonderful Spam! (plus: arty limericks)

29 August 2015 9:30

The request for tributes in verse to a once-popular foodstuff that has fallen out of favour generated a large and…

Image: Getty

Spectator competition: a thriller in three text messages (plus: coinages inspired by today’s politicians)

24 August 2015 18:30

The latest challenge, to submit a thriller in three text messages, seemed straightforward enough but it turned out to be…

I wandered lonely as a cloud

The poetic thoughts your pet is having

14 August 2015 16:51

My request for poems by a pet who is cheesed off with its owner generated an entertaining parade of bullied,…

P G Wodehouse (Photo: Central Press/Getty)

Michael Gove’s department should take a few style tips from P.G. Wodehouse

11 August 2015 11:20

Michael Gove has suggested that civil servants take inspiration from George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen and George Eliot,…

Edward Bulwer-Lytton: ‘the worst writer in history'

Spectator competition: the best opening paragraphs to the worst of all novels (plus: a thriller in three text messages)

3 August 2015 13:10

The latest challenge was a shameless rip-off of the annual Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest which asks for ‘the opening sentence to…

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Spectator competition: ‘Come friendly bombs, and fall on those/ Who clip their nails or pick their nose…’ (plus: pets dish the dirt on their owners)

25 July 2015 9:30

Transport for London’s efforts to use verse to encourage Tube users to mind their manners produced poems whose rhyme and…

August 1966:  A member of the International Society of Girl Watchers uses the ploy of wiping his shoulder in order to leer unnoticed at a passing woman. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a lecherous poet gets his come-uppance (plus: Gove’s rules)

18 July 2015 9:47

Given the kerfuffle caused by the recent publication of Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’ in the London Review of Books, I thought…