STUDENTS, parents, past pupils and the wider Ripon community are being urged to flee the restrictions of lockdown through creativity in a popular annual poetry challenge.

‘Escape’ is the theme of the latest Ripon Grammar School Hullah Poetry Competition, which has been running since 2014 and attracts hundreds of entries every year.

Judge Dr Paul Hullah, a past pupil of the school and now professor of poetry at Tokyo’s Meiji Gakuin University, explained his choice of theme: “The last year has been difficult for all of us. We’ve had to work out new ways to live. We’ve all done our best, but enforced isolation, our new ‘indoor existence’, has not been easy for many of us.

“A lockdown limbo land of restrictions on movement has been a psychological as well as physical challenge we have all had to try to overcome.

“In such stressful, testing times, it’s important to find ways actively to reduce anxiety. Art — of which poetry is a fundamental form — can represent a welcome escape from the prosaic reality of our situation.

“Whether we’re producers of art, or consumers, or both, creativity stimulates the imagination and exercises the mind, inspires and elevates us.

“Whether it’s a Netflix binge watch, a video game, a fantasy manga, a favourite tune, a musical, a ballet, a book… or a poem, art offers us a meaningful exit route — dramatic, fantastical, and joyous — from the daily actualities in which we find ourselves, a temporary respite from the workaday mundanities that give life a regularity but are lacking in emotional release.

“Art is a medicine that soothes, and liberates: ‘Go anywhere, without leaving your chair’, as the song says…

“So, this year, the task is to write a poem of fourteen or more lines that somehow connects to the (very vague: interpret it as freely as you like!) concept of ESCAPE. Any poetic form, rhyme scheme or narrator is allowed.”

*Please submit your poem via email by Friday, July 16, 2021 to Mrs Mars at marsh@ripongrammar.com

Category One: pupils of RGS only (trophy and book token prize).
Category Two: staff, Old Rips, inhabitants of Ripon and friends of the school (book token prize).