• Winchester in the autumn, photo by Javaid Akhtar

To celebrate the bicentenary of the ode To Autumn being written by John Keats in Winchester in 1819, a competition is set to inspire young writers and artists across Hampshire to get creative.

Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT), in partnership with the Winchester Poetry Festival, Winchester Heritage Open Days and Visit Winchester, is inviting young people across Hampshire to get creative by writing a poem or creating a picture celebrating the theme ‘The Seasons in Hampshire.’

Entries are open to young people in three different age categories: 4-7, 8-11 and 12-16 years. First and second prize poetry submissions will receive a £30 and £20 National Book token respectively, while first and second prize art entries will receive a £30 and £20 voucher for art supplies. The poetry prizes have been donated in memory of Gordon Ward, former English teacher, Hampshire Education Advisor and a lover of poetry.

‘In 1819, John Keats visited Winchester and became inspired to write his best-loved poem To Autumn after taking a walk in the late autumnal sunshine in the countryside surrounding the city,’ commented Madelaine Smith, Festival Manager at Winchester Poetry Festival. ‘We want young people to be inspired as Keats was by Hampshire’s natural beauty and interpret the seasons in Hampshire either through poetry or art.’

‘Winchester Heritage Open Days is delighted to be hosting this competition in partnership with Hampshire Cultural Trust, Winchester Poetry Festival and Visit Winchester,’ commented Nicky Gottlieb, Winchester Heritage Open Days. ‘Last year's 'art and words' competition was a great success and we cannot wait to see what local Hampshire young people come up with this year as part of the Keats bicentenary celebrations.’

The closing date for entries is midnight on 31 July 2019. An exhibition of entries selected for judging will take place at City Museum, Winchester, from 13 – 29 September 2019. The winners and runners-up will be announced at an awards ceremony at City Museum on Sunday 29 September.