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Yesterday was National Poetry Day and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson marked the occasion by launching a poetry competition. Any child aged between 10 and 16 living in London is eligible to enter by writing a poem on the theme of what is great about the Olympics and submitting it via the GLA website.

Boris says:

Poetry is in the nation’s blood, it literally courses through our literary veins. From Shakespeare’s sonnets to Blake, Wordsworth, Keats and Donne, and our modern day poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, we’ve always been a world leader in this particular field.

Personally I love poetry. I learned reams of the stuff at school and strangely enough am still able to recite a dozen Shakespeare sonnets, the whole of Lycidas (186 lines of the thing) and the first 100 lines of the Iliad in Greek.

Poetry is also a friend whenever and wherever you want it. I still find it amazing how often a line or phrase will come to mind while I’m thinking about how best to say something.

Entries in English are permitted. But to provide inspiration he directs children to a Latin poem Carmen Olympicum Londinii (Ode for the London Olympics) by Bijan Omrani,, a Classics Tutor at Westminster.

Omrani says:

“Irritatingly, ‘Londinium’ and ‘Londiniensis’ do not fit in the sapphic metre.”

More inspiration is offered by a list of 100 great things about the Olympics.

The prize is a bus tour of the Olympics site for the winner and their family and friends.

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