Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

The Thursday Post: Competition time

Writer by Eelke, under a Creative Commons licence
Writer by Eelke, under a Creative Commons licence

The John Mather Trust is offering poets based in the West of Scotland a chance to apply for £500 each. The John Mather Charitable Trust honours the memory of John Mather who rose from office boy to Chairman of the Clyde Port Authority. Mather had strong links with the arts in the West of Scotland, and the prize honours his legacy.

The Trust has given the SPL a grant of £1,000 which they’ve asked us to pass on to promising poets who could use a financial boost. We’ve decided to divide it into two blocks of £500, although we retain the right to adjust the amounts up and down if an outstanding project is submitted that we feel could benefit from a higher sum than half of what is on offer.

The award is given with the intent of supporting the writing of poetry. If you need help to research or travel; with equipment; child-care and general living costs; or to enrol on a short course or pay a mentoring fee, the John Mather Trust award can help.

Last year the prize was divided between Elaine Gallagher and Hugh McMillan. Gallagher applied for a sum that would allow her to attend a development workshop at Moniak Mhor with a focus on improving live performance. McMillan used his prize to research a play about Galloway’s radical history, Levellers, Smugglers and Rowdy Lassies.

To be eligible you need to be a poet who has had a collection published in the UK; or a poet not yet published but who has demonstrated commitment and energy to developing his or her craft. Another key criterion for eligibility: those applying must be resident in the West of Scotland. Please note: we can’t accept applications from full-time students for course fees.

Want to apply? You need to tell us how you meet the criteria and why you should be considered for the award. We need a simple budget breakdown of how you’d spend the award as well as a brief résumé of your writing career, plus three poems. If you want to apply for more than £500, tell us why.

Applications should be emailed to by midnight on Friday March 17 with ‘John Mather Poetry Award’ in the subject line. One last thing: successful candidates have to write reports in September 2017 and in March 2018 about how they’ve spent their awards. Good luck!

Category: poets