The 821 is an 11-line, 3-stanza poem created in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Northern Poetry Library. This is based in Morpeth, Northumberland and has the largest collection of post-WWII poetry in England outside London: over 15,000 volumes.
Why 821? It is the number allocated to English poetry in the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System. The form also uses the “volta”, the turn, a concept traditionally associated with sonnets, and this is used to create a subtly interconnected series of stanzas that turn, or riff of one another.
The poem consists of an opening octet (8 lines), line break, a couplet (2 lines), line break, followed by a single line. There is no set meter. It could use a rhyme scheme or be free verse.
The Northern Poetry Library is sponsoring a competition for 821 poems. International entries are welcome. The poem needs to have a connection to the “North”; how you interpret this is up to you. The judges will select a total of 50 poems: during a five-month’ period 10 poems will be picked each month to form a canto which will be published on-line.
Include with the submission a statement (max 100 words) about your connection to the North. The closing date is 17 June 2018. Some sample poems are on https://poemsofthenorth.co.uk
I am grateful to poet Pam Thompson for introducing me to the form. I am definitely going to submit: I have been in the North West for almost 40 years so I have the connection, but I don’t yet have the poem – I’m not finding it easy to get a balance between the opening octet and those final three lines…