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To celebrate 50 years of this regional treasure, the Northern Poetry Library came up with an idea for a living, growing artwork-in-progress. We invited poets with a Northern connection to enter a competition to become part of this artwork. The Poem of the North brought together the work of fifty poets, in five cantos, published over a period of five months. By the end of 2018, the completed poem will stand as a celebratory artefact: a tribute to the region and acknowledgement of the North’s rich seam of writers and written culture.
A new poetic form: the 821

Poem of the North is a creative approach to poetry publishing in the digital age. It also invites you to tackle a brand-new poetic form.

The 821 is an 11-line, 3-stanza poem created in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Northern Poetry Library. Two main concepts inform the 821. Firstly, 821 is the number assigned to English poetry in the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. Secondly, 821 utilises the “volta”, a concept traditionally associated with sonnets, and is used to create a subtly interconnected series of stanzas that turn, or riff off one another.

Excluding the title, the poem must be 11 lines in total:

  • The 11 lines are subdivided into three stanzas
  • The first stanza is an opening octet (8 lines)
  • The second is a middle stanza or couplet (2 lines)
  • The third and final part is a single line
  • Between each of the stanzas or parts there is a line break
  • There is no set meter for the 821: it could employ a rhyme scheme, or be free verse in lines of varying length.
  • The 821 also has a theme of “North”, however you wish to interpret this. 

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