School children in years primary 6 and 7 across Belfast are being offered the chance to win technology equipment for their school by writing a poem celebrating what they love about the city.

Be it exploring history in the Ulster Museum, playing in Ormeau Park or even the people themselves, the competition hopes to portray the city through the eyes of children.  Following in the footsteps of great Northern Irish writers and poets such as Seamus Heaney, Sinead Morrissey and Colin Bateman, the young wordsmiths are encouraged to pen a verse that brings the city to life.

The contest was officially opened at the new Nationwide Building Society branch on Donegall Place. The winning entry will be selected by a panel of judges, including Laurie Bolger, one of the poets who features in the latest Nationwide Voices campaign. She gave a recital and provided her creative tips to children, including pupils from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School who attended the event. Laurie’s top tips include:


  1. Be yourself

There’s no one more interesting than you, write about what you know and care about.

  1. Don’t think too hard

If you overthink things when writing your best ideas will get blocked. Let your imagination do the talking. Weird ideas are often the best!

  1. Free Write

Try writing for as long as you can about the first thing that pops into your head and see what comes out, even if it sounds a bit odd keep going! Then once your words and ideas are all out on the page you can turn them into something beautiful…don’t edit before you’ve let the ideas out!

  1. It doesn’t have to rhyme

I think it’s really important to think about how a poem sounds when read aloud but I don’t think it always has to rhyme to be a poem. Rhyming is fun but originality is better than a poem that just rhymes for the sake of it. If rhyming serves the poem use it, if not let the poems images do the talking!

  1. Have fun! 🙂

If you enjoy writing the poem, then others will enjoy reading it. Just play around with language and have fun!

The winning poet stands to win £2,000 worth of technology for their school.  Parents and teachers are being asked to submit poems on behalf of young writers, by emailing them to belfast.poems@nationwide.co.uk, or dropping submissions into the Nationwide branch, 61-63 Donegall Place, Belfast, BT1 5AG by Friday 24 March 2017. All entries should include the poet’s name, age and school.