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Have some fun this February half-term and enter our shape poetry competition!

What is a shape poem?

A shape poem is a poem that looks like the object it describes. For example, a poem about a leaf written in the shape of a leaf, a poem about a ball written to look like a ball… you get the gist! You can create a shape poem about anything you can see, or maybe even use a shape poem to give form to something that you can’t see. For example, what might the wind look like if you could see it? You can create an image of the wind through your poetry.

You can use lines of different lengths to help you recreate the shape of your chosen object. You can use text of different sizes. And who says poems have to be read from left to right and top to bottom? You have the freedom to write diagonally across the page, upside down, in a spiral – whatever you need to do to make the image clear for your reader.

When you’ve chosen the object you want to write about, think about using all of your senses to describe it. What colour is it? What else does it look like? What does it smell like, taste like? What is the texture like when you touch it? And if you don’t know, your imagination can tell you!

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Leaves Shape Poem
An example of a shape poem

Three top tips for writing poetry from judge Rebecca Drake

1. Write what you see, the way you see it

Nobody else sees the world the way you do, so write what you can see! What do you see when you look at a whale skeleton, or the Time Ball, or some wildlife or a statue in Pearson Park? What colours do you see? Does a shell remind you of a memory from when you were younger, perhaps of a place you visited or something you did? Can you describe an object by comparing it to something you see every day at school, in the garden, or at the shops? If you can use your own experiences to tell someone else about what you can see and what it means to you, then you can write a poem that shows your reader how you see the world.

2. Read lots of poetry

Poets like to read lots of other people’s poetry to get ideas for how to write their own poems, and it’s a really useful thing to do. Look up some examples of shape poems online that you like and ask yourself why you like them. Does the poet use particular words or expressions that you would like to borrow for your own poem? Is the shape of the object immediately obvious, or does anything about it surprise you? Is the poem funny and why do you find it funny? Or does a poem tell a story really well? Let all of these things inspire you to write your own poem.

3. Don’t forget the words!

Although you’ll be thinking about how to create an image of your chosen topic on the page, don’t forget the words you choose are important too! Poetry can be a lot like music in the way it tells a story. When you have written your poem, read it out loud and listen to how the words sound. Does it roll off your tongue, or are there bits that feel a bit clunky and could flow better? Do the last lines sound like a good ending or do you feel like there needs to be more? Do the words convey the texture of the object you are describing? Enjoy the words that are exciting to say, and the words that stand out, and let these words hold your poem together. If your poem sounds good it will tell a story that your reader will remember.


The shape poetry competition is aimed for children aged 16 and under. It’s a joint half term holidays engagement activity for our three projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund - the Hull Maritime project and the restoration of Pearson Park and the Guildhall Time Ball.

There are three themes to enter a shape poem in: Park Life, Maritime, and Time Ball and Navigation.
The poems can be about anything to do with these three subjects and you can enter one poem into each of the three categories!

Find out more about Hull’s maritime history here:

And learn more about how the Guildhall Time Ball aided sailors’

Get your coat on and take a trip to your local park to soak up the fresh air. What wildlife can you spot or historical features can you see? Check out Pearson Park, the first People’s Park in Hull, for inspiration!

The winners will receive a £40 book voucher from local book shop, J. E. Books in Hepworth’s Arcade, Lowgate in Hull.


You can either write your poem or on a PC. If you’ve created it by hand don’t forget to take a photo of your entry and send it to us at

When submitting your entry send your name, age, school and contact details.


The winners will be announced on Tuesday 9 March.


We are delighted to have two local poets who will select the winners. They are:

Mikey Higgins Local Poet
Mickey will judge the poems

Mickey Higgins

Mickey Higgins has been a regular guest poet on the Northern Poetry Circuit and has performed her poetry at The Edinburgh Fringe, The York Fringe and The Manchester Fringe. She has performed at Hull Truck Theatre, The Kardomah, The Hull Folk and Maritime Festival and at Hull Freedom Festival.

Mickey graduated from Hull University with a First Class Honours Degree in Creative Writing. She is a local poet, who regards Pearson Park as a place of great Cultural significance. A place of beauty and respite for all, particularly during these difficult times.

Rebecca Drake At The Hull Maritime Museum
Rebecca will also judge the entries

Rebecca Drake

Rebecca Drake is a third-year PhD researcher at the University of York, where she works on the sea in medieval English and Icelandic literature.

Her poetry focuses on the role of the human in natural landscapes and seascapes, as well as on retellings of medieval literature inspired by her own research.

She has been published in Fly on the Wall Press, Black Bough Magazine, and The Looking Glass Anthology. Her advice to young poets is to tell a story in their own words, and to simply enjoy the freedom that writing poetry brings.

Guildhall Time Ball Shape Poem
The Guildhall Time Ball shape poem