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Ghost Light

As we navigate through these times of isolation, it has become more important than ever to stay connected and to stay positive. Ghost Light is a poetry competition aimed at nurturing our mental well-being, and an opportunity for our audiences to write about their own experiences. Every week, a literary guest will provide a theme or source of inspiration to kick things off. Whether in the form of haiku, sonnet, rhymed poetry or free verse send us your thoughts at this most unusual time. See below for details on how to enter.


Week 7: Pride

Norwich is home to five gay clubs and bars so take my hand,
I’ll show you where they are.
On Seventy Seven Prince Of Wales Road
is Fetch night club but it was once called Flaunt.
There on Seventy One Riverside Road
is Lollard’s Pit, a gay owned public house.
The Catherine Wheel’s on Saint Augustine Street
ran by Bernice and Dawn: Mummy B, D.
Then at Eighty Rose Lane there is The Loft
that used to be called The Caribbean.
There on One Spitalfields is The Castle,
gay pub and club with bed and breakfast too.
Within these clubs I have got lost and found.
These pubs are my front room, classroom, playground.

Norwich Is Home by James McDermott as chosen by James himself.
The original poem has been selected from James’ upcoming book MANATOMY,
released on Wednesday 26 August.

Laughter by Philip Malyavin

Week 6: Laughter

Laughter is infectious.
It is a joyful sound that
Once it starts ringing,
Passes all around.

Laughter is infectious.
Some folks have no clue
As to what another’s laughter
Could do unto you.

Laughter is infectious.
You can get it on a whim,
But chances of it harming
Are very, very slim.

Laughter Is Infectious by Walterrean Salley as chosen by Karl Minns. The painting is called: “Laughter” by Phillip Malyavin.

Week 5: Friendship

come to my garden and pretend to get along.
Please let me introduce the scientists. Yes,
he studies the behaviour of bees.
Friends from my childhood,
I do not think you stupid and boring.
Assistant editors, step away from the pond.
This man has written a dystopian
sci-fi novel; this man is an eco-carpenter.

I am on the roof, feeling so various,
astonished by my own width,
with water bombs in each hand.

Ghost Light - Gratitude

Week Four: Gratitude

“Gratitude brings hope when we are hope-less, peace when we are despairing and healing when we are broken.”

The painting is called: “Bloom when Ready and Not a Moment Before” by Mary Blue Brady.

Chosen by Lady Anwen Hurt, Artistic Director of Holt Festival and trustee of the Sir John Hurt Film Trust.

A group of Norwich Theatre Volunteers

Week Three: Togetherness

“I love this picture of our amazing team of volunteers and cannot wait for the day we can all be together again.”

Chosen by Norwich Theatre chief executive, Stephen Crocker.

Week Two: Community

I can remember a time
when the neighbourhood bond was strong.
When you could chat to one another
over the fence about everything going on.
Resolving the problems that others had,
and helping them to get through.
Those days are in the past.
Oh, where have they gone?
The community spirit of long, long ago.

Community Spirit by David Harris as chosen by Our Lord Lieutenant, Lady Dannatt


Week One: Kindness

‘We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead – you first,” “I like your hat.”‘

This excerpt is from Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris as chosen by  Chris Gribble


Your submissions will be shared on social media and on our website, and will form part of a commemorative book that will be published at the end of the project. All submissions will be judged by local literary figures, and the three winning poems will be displayed across our three buildings when they re-open to the public.

The title Ghost Light is inspired by the stories and superstitions of the theatre world. A ghost light is a small, bare light that shines on the dark stage when the theatre is closed and unoccupied. Its primary reason is safety, a ghost light ensures that nobody accidentally trips up in the dark or falls off the stage. However, theatre people are a superstitious bunch and there are a number of stories surrounding the origin of this charming tradition… Maybe the ghost light is there to give theatre ghosts, former actors themselves, enough light to perform on stage… Or maybe is to keep those ghosts away so that they don’t get mischievous while everyone is gone!

To Enter:

– Email your submission to – using the subject heading: ‘Ghost Light’. Please include your name, age, address, and the title of the poem.

– Participants who wish to share supplementary drawings or illustrations, can include them as attachments in their email.


Terms & Conditions:

1. The Ghost Light competition by Norwich Theatre is open to anyone aged 10+.
2. The Closing date for the competition is 30 June 2020.
3. A single entrant can submit a maximum of three poems. All entries will be considered.
4. The poems can be written in any style. All poems must have a title and must not exceed 250 words in length (excluding title). Entrants will be provided with weekly themes and sources of inspiration by Norwich Theatre, via our website, social media platforms and weekly e-newsletters.
5. Entrants, if they so wish, can accompany their poem with a photograph, drawing or illustration.
6. Poems must be the entrant’s original work and written in English.
7. Copyright remains with the authors, but we reserve the right to publish the poems in any format.
8. Please include all of your poems on a single word document or PDF, in font size 11pt or larger. Your name and address must be included on the poem entries.
9. No alterations can be made to a poem once it has been submitted.
10. The three winners will be requested to provide a biography, headshot photograph and to take part in any subsequent publicity surrounding the poetry challenge.
11. All winning poems will be announced and published on our website and on Norwich Theatre social media platforms. The poems may also be used to decorate Norwich Theatre buildings, upon the re-opening of the organisation.
12. Employees of Norwich Theatre are not eligible to enter the competition for judged works, however, their submissions will be considered for inclusion in the commemorative book.