Kindness Poetry Competition 2023

What does kindness mean to you? What does kindness look or feel like?

Write a poem on kindness and enter SPINE Festival 2023’s competition for the opportunity to have your poem published by Otter-Barry Books! This competition is judged by Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho! Winners will be announced at the festival launch on 10 April 2023.


Your poem will be published in an Otter-Barry Books’ anthology edited by Joseph Coelho!*


  • You must be 5 – 11 years old
  • Your poem must be no longer than 15 lines
  • It must be an original poem you have written about kindness
  • Only one poem is allowed to be submitted per entrant
  • You must live in one of these London boroughs:
    Brent, Bromley, Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster
This competition has now closed.

Meet the readers

We would like to thank and acknowledge the hard work of our competition readers who assisted in shortlisting the entries for judge Joseph Coelho to choose the winners:

Nyanda Foday was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate 2016-2018, and is inspired by the impact that words can have to create, unite, explain and enjoy. She strives to connect with others where she can by sharing and listening to their work.

Stanley Iyanu is a performance poet and writer from London. His spoken word poetry style has been described as having the “gentle power of a slow ocean building. Before you know it, you’ll be rocking hither and thither to his sirenic-voiced languid lullaby and loving every tidal second of it”. His poems have been published in the Poetry Society magazine as well as internationally. He has performed across the UK, most notably for Apples & Snakes, BBC Radio London and for the Cheltenham Literature Festival, his debut poetry pamphlet is called ‘My Achilles’ and is published by Burning Eye Press. 


a trio of images. The first a cartoon boy in white vest that reads the boy lost in the maze. The middle image is an adult make in pink trousers and floral shirt jumping. The last image is a cartoon girl, holding hands with her younger brother.


See what judge Joseph Coelho says it takes to write a good poem:

  • Carry a notebook. No matter how good your memory or how wonderful an idea or phrase is, if you don’t jot it down as it occurs you’re likely to forget it so carry a notepad and a pen.
  • Explore poetic forms. Form can be a great way to explore a subject by giving you a creative restriction that often opens-up ideas and turns of phrase that you may never normally come up with. There are many great books on form that tell you about different types of poem including my own “How To Write Poems, as well as no end of websites that spell out how to create sonnets, villanelles, sestinas and the like.
  • Share your poems, write them in cards, declare them at birthdays, read them to your friends and families.

Watch this video for more tips

You can also check out these resources on Joseph’s website:
Fun videos on how to write poems!
More helpful tips and resources for writing poems!

*Please note the anthology prize is subject to funding, alternative prizes will also be available should funding be unsuccessful. This will be communicated to the winners ahead of the festival launch on 10 April 2023.

Spine Festival

This competition is part of SPINE Festival 2023.

Joseph is a big ambassador in working with children and believing in their ideas. His approach to workshops encourages the creativity and bold insight that children can bring to ideas. Read more about his work, poetry and process in this blog.