Beaver fact: “Did you know, a beaver can swim underwater for 15 minutes”

Beaver fact: “Did you know, a beaver’s teeth are impregnated with IRON for strength, which makes them bright orange”

Beaver fact: “Did you know beavers never stop building and maintaining dams, their wetlands are constantly changing and evolving”

Beaver fact: “Did you know that beavers are crepuscular, meaning they come out at dawn and dusk”

Beaver fact: “Did you know a baby beaver is called a KIT”

Beaver fact: “Did you know beavers once lived all across Britain as far back as the ice age”

Beaver fact: “Did you know beavers are vegetarian, they only eat plants like brambles and trees”

Beaver fact: “Did you know the scientific name for European beavers is Castor fiber”

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Competition

Nature and the Ecological Emergency International Poetry Competition 2021

Closing date is the 31st May 2021

Beaver Trust is delighted to announce its inaugural International Poetry Competition on the theme of “Nature and the Ecological Emergency”. We are continually inspired and moved by people’s creativity and love of nature. This competition is about exploring new ways to think about nature and our connection with it, whether through the engaging, humble beaver, the wide range of emotions brought about by the ecological emergency, our recovery and resilience building, or any other aspect of nature and ecology.

Beaver Trust is working in association with Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, who will print the winning entry and feature the other prize winning poems online. 

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and the ecological emergency. These terms will be given a wide interpretation by our guest judge Terry Gifford.

Judge

We are delighted to have Terry Gifford as our judge.

Terry, whose eighth collection is A Feast of Fools (2018) is Visiting Research Fellow in Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, UK, and Profesor Honorifico at the Universidad de Alicante, Spain. Author or editor of seven books on Ted Hughes, most recently Ted Hughes in Context (2018), he also wrote Pastoral (2020), Green Voices: Understanding Contemporary Nature Poetry (2011) and Reconnecting with John Muir: Essays in Post-pastoral Practice (2006). He is currently writing D. H. Lawrence: Ecofeminism and Nature for Routledge. See http://www.terrygifford.co.uk

As judge, Terry Gifford, will read all entries personally.

Submitting your poems

There is no limit to how many poems you can enter. We do have an entry fee of £4 for your first poem and a fee of £3 for each subsequent poem. All funds raised will go towards the important charitable work of Beaver Trust and restoring nature and improving resilience against the climate and ecological crises through the reintroduction and support of nature’s greatest engineers.

We ask that poems are sent as either an Adobe PDF or a Microsoft Word .doc or a .docx.

How to submit

Pay your entry fee via PayPal.

  1. Pay your entry fee online using the button above.
  2. Submit your poem online by emailing a .doc or pdf document to poetry@beavertrust.org with competition entry as the subject header.
  3. Poems are judged anonymously. Each poem must be on a separate page, which must not bear the author’s name or any other mark by which the author could be identified.
  4. Please include the following information in your email: name of poet, title of poem, contact details including phone number and the payment reference number you received when you paid your entry.
  5. If you are unable to enter online you may send a Postal Entry. Two copies of each poem are required, accompanied by a covering letter with your name, address and phone number, a list of the poems submitted and where you heard about the competition.
Entries should be sent by normal post (NOT registered post) to: Poetry Competition, The Cornwall Beaver Project, Woodland Valley Farm, Ladock, Cornwall, TR2 4PT. Please quote your Paypal reference number if you have paid online, which is our preferred option. If you need to send a cheque these should be made payable to “Beaver Trust”. If you require confirmation that your postal entry has arrived please enclose a stamped self-addressed postcard marked ‘Acknowledgement’.

Prizes

1st prize – £150 and publication in Resurgence & Ecologist magazine
2nd prize – £50
3rd prize – £25

Additional prizes

  • A further prize will be awarded for the best poem with a theme of beavers at its core – £100 – plus a plasticine beaver made by renowned model-maker Jim Parkyn, of Aardman and Shaun the Sheep fame.

All winners will also be offered the opportunity to visit the inspirational Cornwall Beaver Project (as featured on the BBC’s Spring and Winter Watches) for a guided beaver walk. There is no time restriction to this prize, it can be taken when convenient.
Please note This prize does not include the cost of travel or accommodation.

Contacts

If you have any queries regarding the competition please contact poetry@beavertrust.org

Closing date

ALL EMAIL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT 31st MAY 2021. We will accept postal entries received by Saturday 5th June, provided they are post-marked no later than 31 May.

Rules of Entry:

  • The competition is open to all. International entries are welcome.
  • Poems should be on the theme of Nature and the Ecological Emergency. You may interpret this in any way you wish.
  • There will also be a special prize for the best poem that has the theme of beavers at its core.
  • Poems must be in English and not exceed 40 lines of text. There is no minimum length. Titles, epigraphs, dedications and blank lines are not included in the line count.
  • Poems must fit on a single side of A4 and must have a title
  • Poems are judged anonymously. Each poem must be on a separate page, which must not bear the author’s name or any other mark by which the author could be identified.
  • Online entries are preferred – please send a .doc or pdf document to poetry@beavertrust.org with competition entry as the subject header.
  • Please first pay your entry fee online at https://beavertrust.org/poetry.
  • Please accompany your entry with the following information: name of poet, title of poem, contact details including phone number and the Paypal reference number you received when you paid your entry.
  • If you are unable to enter online, you may send a Postal Entry. Two copies of each poem are required, accompanied by a covering letter with your name, address and phone number, a list of the poems submitted and where you heard about the competition.
  • Entries should be sent by normal post (NOT registered post) to: Poetry Competition, The Cornwall Beaver Project, Woodland Valley Farm, Ladock, Cornwall, TR2 4PT. Please quote your Paypal reference number if you have paid online, which is our preferred option. If you need to send a cheque these should be made payable to The Beaver Trust. If you require confirmation that your postal entry has arrived please enclose a stamped self-addressed postcard marked ‘Acknowledgement’. 
  • There is no restriction on the number of poems that may be submitted, provided the appropriate entry fee is included.
  • Poems must be the original work of the entrant, unpublished and not accepted for publication in any medium. They must not have been awarded a prize in any other competition.
  • Winners will be notified by email or post. No person will be awarded more than one prize. 
  • Poems entered will not be returned. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself.
  • Copyright will remain with the author, but the organisers reserve the right to publish any of the prizewinning poems as they deem appropriate.
  • Once entered, poems may not be amended.
  • Shortlisted poets will be informed on Tuesday 2nd August 2021.
  • Shortlisted poets will be invited to read their poems at a ceremony at the Quaker Meeting House in Bradford on Avon on Tuesday 28th September, at which there will be the opportunity to meet experts from the Beaver Trust. Results will be announced at the ceremony. 
  • The full list of winners will be announced on our website, https://beavertrust.org shortly after the presentation.
  • The judge will read ALL the entries
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Beaver Trust reserves the right to change the judge if the need arises.
  • In exceptional circumstances the organisers reserve the right to return poems and entry fees.
  • The Competition is open to all, other than team members, trustees and staff of the Beaver Trust. There is no age limit to entries
  • ALL EMAIL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT 31st MAY 2021. We will accept postal entries received by Saturday 5th June, provided they are post-marked no later than 31 May.

Poems to inspire you..

From Terry’s collection Whale Watching with a Boy and a Goat (1998)

ISLAND AMULET
Terry Gifford

The island’s tourists savour the flesh of fresh salmon.
The island’s salmon swim at the head of the loch.
At the head of the loch the tides barely reach.
Where the tides barely reach the salmon cages float.
Towards the caged salmon flesh swim the sea lice.
Against the sea lice the farmer feeds ivermectin.
Ivermectin the toxic loves the flesh of the mussels.
The flesh of the mussels is loved by the tourists.
Few tourists at first suffer shellfish poisoning.
Shellfish poisoning is killing more island tourists.
The island’s tourists savour the flesh of fresh salmon.

James Wallace 13th February 2004, WTC.

Most days for the past few decades
a bone-deep pleasure has been bristled
and white-striped to me 
by the badgers of Back Lane.

We share this nook of Berkshire,
warm-blooded and canine-toothed into familiarity.

At every glimpse of their earthy excavations,
I feel the thrill of their digging,
their spoil mounding on the tarmac
of this winding Stanford Dingley lane.

Every now and again you see the trundling pace
of a low-slung chap out hunting
beetles and worms and grubbing,
and you slow the engine, swing out wide
giving him the due berth and respect he deserves.

He lives on a mere slip of a hill
with ivy-draped oaks, pigeons,
neat hedges and banks either side.

We had a recent conversation, 
I, bipedal and bald, with a man who is 
as hairy, narrow-mouthed and blind 
as the corner of his roadside home.  

Whilst chatting with this subterranean 
of dark tunnels,
dried grass bedding 
and dangling roots,

He mumbles a warning: 
Some nonsense about tuberculosis, apparently.
His lot is lower than cash-crops and factory cows,
slandered with poisonous words,
the howls of terriers dig out this old brock.

Two species, one kingdom, six feet on the ground,
we had a discussion, unheard, garrulous without words
over a bottle of beer as I strode home.

He seemed not to care for his fate, 
nor my shadow,
but I do, for both of his, 
fuelled by roses a-glow
red-cheeked from an evening at the Bull Inn.

But only two months ago I stood beside him
and gazed in awe at his manners, 
our plain similarity,
his bold persona,

incessant scratching at invisible fleas, 
calmly ducking into his set, 
reversing in and out
shy of prying automobiles.

Three times he returned to sniff the air,
cast a nonchalant glance at my feet 
look up and melt my heart in the full moon of his fur.

Today I saw him again, 
sprawled by his back door, 
drunk on a night’s foraging,
spread on his belly,
eternally yawning.

Although ruffled ‘round the edges 
and covered in dust,
he was surprisingly animated and soft to touch,
since the cruel wheels of a speeding truck.

Copyright © James Wallace 2004

It wasn’t just your orange teeth that first attracted me,
although they undoubtedly helped.

There was something in your style;
how you hacked your way through brash and bramble,
your determination to shape the landscape.

Your reputation preceded you; I had been tracking you
for a while, observing from a distance
where you wouldn’t notice me.

I feared my farmyard odour would repulse you.
My clumsiness of movement,
the way my wellies caught in the mud.

In the evening, hiding behind reeds, 
I watched you swimming, your body
sleek through the water, sometimes diving under

like a Renaissance princess searching for a long-lost sword.

I have to admit being besotted, even obsessed;
believed you when you promised to save the world
with your vegan diet, your water gardens; was awestruck
by the way wildlife seemed to gather in your wake.

It has to be said we weren’t without our problems;
you liking an all night party, me ready for gin and bed by ten.
I couldn’t keep up, became frustrated as you slept all day,
We hardly saw each other.

I wondered how you put up with it; all those beaver jokes,
but the truth is you were nothing more
than an oversized rodent. I forgave you everything;
felling my contorted willows, destroying my lilies…

I had no choice but to contain you;
it was all part of the contract.
It was your nature to test boundaries, to rattle the cage,
but in the end I just couldn’t give you what you wanted,
what you wanted most of all –

just be free.

Credit – Lizzy Lister 2020

Past winners

Water Wonderful World

Winner – Flo Blackbourn