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Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Re-Re-Re-Drafting Challenge: Bloodaxe Archive Challenge #3

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Deadline: 1 March 2020

In our third Bloodaxe Archive challenge, we’re inviting you to radically re-draft someone else’s poem from the Bloodaxe Archive…

The challenge: pick a poem from the Bloodaxe Archive and re-draft it beyond recognition!

Inspired by the tweaks and changes we can see unfurling in poets’ manuscripts and proofs in the Bloodaxe Archive, we’d like to challenge your drafting skills. Flex your editing muscles by applying some processes and techniques to existing pieces of writing. They will help you take one step away from the personal, intense, creative activity of writing a poem to encourage a more subjective viewpoint and deliver a more successful poem. Once you’ve gone through all these processes, you can step back in and marvel at the mysterious new piece you have created.

Step 1
Pick a poem, any poem, from the Bloodaxe Archive. Remember, there are many ways to dip into this vast collection of digitised poetry – you can search by data, shape, word, gallery, research and books – click here for a reminder of how to search the archive for poems.

Step 2
Now you’re going to change this poem beyond all recognition, by applying a selection of these processes. Pick between four and six, and apply them in any order, one after the other:

Change the tense of the poem. If it’s set in the past, what happens when you change it to the present – or the future?
Mess with the pronouns. Is it written in the ‘I’ voice? What happens if you change it to ‘we’ or ‘you’, ‘he/she/it’ or ‘they’?
Translate it into another language – either because you’re multi-lingual, or you’re good at Google Translate. Translate that translation into a second language. Keep going a few more times, and then bring it back to English.
Add some characters. What if the heroes or villains of your favourite film or book show up in the poem? How will they react to its setting or mood?
Find all the nouns in the poem. Replace them with the nouns which come seven places after the original noun in the dictionary (e.g. the seventh noun after ‘geranium’ in our office dictionary is ‘germ’).

Move the action of the poem to outer space. Or underwater. Or the North Pole. Or some other challenging location.

  • Reverse the order of the stanzas.
  • Rewrite the poem as a prose poem. Or if it’s already a prose poem, rewrite it as a lineated poem.
  • Rewrite the poem so its rhythm matches that of your favourite song.
  • Cut up the poem into individual lines. Find another piece of non-poetic text of a similar length (a recipe, something from an instruction manual, a football review etc). Cut that up into lines as well. Shuffle all the lines together – what new combination works best?
  • Change the mood of the poem. If it’s comic, turn it tragic – or vice versa.
  • Rewrite the poem so you don’t use the letter E.
  • Choose a poetic form. Force your poem into it. Suggestions: sonnet, villanelle, pantoum, concrete poem…
  • If it rhymes, take out the rhyme. If it doesn’t rhyme, add in a rhyme scheme. Try AABB.
  • Change the perspective. Make the speaker a chair. Or a pepper pot. Or a coat rack. Or any other inanimate object.

Step 3
Is there an editorial process you can invent yourself to apply to the poem? Leave your suggestion in the comments below! And if you describe the process in your entry, we’ll share the ones we like with other Young Poets Network members who are looking for ways to edit their poems.

Step 4
Any last changes that you want to make? Any neatenings or tidyings? Any scruffings up?

Step 5
Give your poem a title, making sure you credit the original poet. For example, your poem could be called ‘The Glow in the Dark Lightbulb, after [poem] by [Bloodaxe poet]’. If you’re writing a new poem inspired by an existing poem, it’s always good practice to credit the original poet like this. That way, you demonstrate the fact that you’re paying tribute to or are in conversation with a poem, rather than accidentally committing plagiarism.

Step 6
Enter your poem or (even better) poems in the challenge by 1 March 2020! Follow the guidelines in the How to Enter section below.

Step 7
Birmingham Jazz Incarnation cover photo
If you like this approach and want to read some more, try the pamphlet Birmingham Jazz Incarnation by Simon Turner – it’s one poem, remixed and remixed many times.

And if you like writing within constraints, find out about the Oulipo movement here. You can also check out our previous univocal Oulipo challenge by Ross Sutherland.

Now you’re immersed in the Bloodaxe Archive, why not try your hand at the other writing challenges in this series here?

Selected poets will be published on Young Poets Network and sent an exclusive Young Poets Network notebook, Bloodaxe poetry books and other goodies, and invited to perform at the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Festival in May 2020.

How to enter
This challenge is for writers aged up to 25 based anywhere in the world (though we can’t pay international expenses to attend the poetry festival). The deadline is midnight, Sunday 1 March 2020. You can send a poem written down, or a recording as a video or as an audio file. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please type it into the body of your email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. You can enter as many poems as you like.

Include a short explanation of the processes you used to create your poem, and remember to credit the original poem.

Send your poem(s) to with the subject line ‘Bloodaxe Archive challenge #3’, along with your name, date of birth/age, gender, the county (or, if you’re not from the UK, the country) you live in, and how you found out about this challenge (e.g. YPN email/Twitter/Instagram/through a teacher/through a friend etc.). This data is used for statistical purposes and help us reach as wide an audience as possible. These anonymised statistics will be shared with our partner Newcastle University.

If you are aged 12 or younger on Sunday 1 March 2020, you will need to ask a parent/guardian to complete this permission form; otherwise, unfortunately we cannot consider your entry due to data protection laws.

We welcome entries from schools and youth groups. Use this class entry form to enter students from your class or group.

If you would like us to add you to the Young Poets Network mailing list, include ‘add me to the mailing list’ in the subject line of the email. If you would like us to confirm that we’ve received your entry, include ‘confirm receipt’ in the subject line. You may refuse to provide information about yourself.

By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network, The Poetry Society and Newcastle University to reproduce your poem in print and online in perpetuity, though copyright remains with you. Please do be sure to check through the general Terms and Conditions for YPN challenges as well.

If you require this information in an alternative format (such as Easy Read, Braille, Large Print or screenreader friendly formats), or need any assistance with your entry, please contact us at

Published January 2020

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