Forget your satnavs. Years before electronic gizmos those funny-looking bits of stone at the roadside told generations of walkers, and drivers of packhorses, carts, stagecoaches, cars and lorries how many miles they’d come from the last town, and how many to the next.
They became part of everyday language as we talk of major life events or significant birthdays as ‘milestones’, or at work in planning projects. Now the Milestones Society, which keeps lists of all the UK’s milestones has teamed up with poetry organisation Write Out Loud to challenge poets to create a poem on the theme, whether physical milestones – which must have witnessed history as thousands travelled to and fro over the centuries – or metaphorical ones (a birth, a death, gaining a qualification, recovery from illness, etc).
The competition is open to all, internationally but must be in English, with a separate prize for under-16s, and the winning poems will be chosen by legendary Liverpool poet Brian Patten, who says the most important thing about a poem is that it should ‘reach the heart of the reader’.
Prizes: £500, £100, £25
Under-16s prize £100 (schools are encouraged to enter their pupils)
All prize winners and runners-up will receive a free anthology.
Poems must be in English and up to 40 lines in length.
The competition starts 21 March and closes on 21 June.
Entry fees: £5 per poem, three poems for £10, subsequent poems in same entry, £3. Entrants aged 15 and under pay £1 per poem.