Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

Guest Blog from John Belcher, 2013 Winner

Date Posted: 11-09-2014 13:35:27

Last year's winner, John Belcher, won a self-publishing package. Here is his guest blog about his book publishing journey so far...


The Prize


Doors close! Sometimes they slam in your face. Doors open! That’s the time to take a peek the other side and to decide if it’s worth going through.


Something comes through my door, ‘Congratulations you’re a finalist!’ Oh yes! What have I won this time, half a million pounds? What does the small print say? What have I got to buy? Another con! Hey, wait a minute, Forward Poetry; I know them. This is no con! Amazed, I was told that I was one of fifty finalists in the 2013 Poetry Rivals Slam Final – didn’t read the letter properly turned up what I thought was early for the evening reading, only to find that it was taking place in the afternoon and was nearly half-way through.


Some good poems were being read, more than 50% with rhyme and rhythm, which is my passion. A lot of them were humorous; mine was deadly serious. I didn’t think I stood a chance – thought I should have submitted a funny one instead.


Tension mounted when the judges retired but I wasn’t tense, being convinced that to be a finalist was going to be the zenith of my literary career. I had decided which poem I liked best and hoped it would win. It became a runner up.


Is there a superlative form of ‘gobsmacked’? If so, it described my emotion at the time it was announced that, by a unanimous decision of the judges, I was the winner. A door had opened and life had taken on a new dimension. Poems written during a lifetime were dug out and tided up, some half-written ones were completed and, fired by a new enthusiasm, and others were created. Nonsense, love, irony, facts, didacticism, regret and fantasy all went into the indeterminate genre of this book. A new comic character made an appearance, an eccentric genetic engineer whose best endeavours produced some wildly unexpected results. Line drawings were added to some of the poems, particularly the comic ones, and some appear on the front cover.


In addition, threading its way between the poems is a discontinuous prosaic narrative of memoirs and ideas dating back to before the Second World War and including experiences during my extensive travels to Africa.


Inspiration usually comes to me at odd times and in various places. Words seem to appear as from nowhere and I write them down on whatever material is available, an envelope, cardboard box, and the back of a map. Sometimes I have to pull into a lay-by or, reluctantly, have to commit them to memory until a more suitable time presents itself.


The book, ‘In a Dusty Mirror, Rhyme, Rhythm and Reminiscence’ is now at the stage of proofs being corrected. An ISBN has been obtained and a barcode is being arranged. People who have seen the proofs say it is good so I hope it will go to the end of the earth.


I am an old-fashioned chap and have never become involved with computers, email, websites, etc., so I intend to engage a distributor who will deal with all that. In the meantime books can be purchased directly from me for £6 plus £1.64 p&p. No doubt they will be more expensive when in the shops.


Who can say what the future will bring? I am more interested in recognition as a poet then in making a fortune. We shall have to wait and see.




If you'd like to purchase a copy of ‘In a Dusty Mirror, Rhyme, Rhythm and Reminiscence’ once published, please send an email or letter to us here at Poetry Rivals and we will forward your correspondence on to John. 

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