Celebrating East African Writing!

Submitting to Poetry Competitions

As you may be aware the Storymoja Hay Festival Poetry Competition is ongoing. Entries will close on Monday 30th August, 2010. Keguro Macharia who is coordinating the competition, has offered these helpful recommendations based on the entries to the Storymoja Hay Poetry Competition so far.

Deadline is Monday 30th August, 2010


1. Follow the submission instructions. If they ask you to put your contact information on a separate cover sheet do so. If they ask you to email your poems in a specific file format (.doc or .rtf) do so. If they ask you to mail hard copies with a self-addressed stamped envelope, do so.

2. Submit polished work. Be especially careful about spelling and lineation.

3. Use a standard, easy to read font: Times New Roman 12 point or Calibri 12 point.

4. Unless the rules specify not to, submit a cover letter.

*        Address it to a specific person if you know the person’s identity or to a Poetry Editor or Poetry Judge or Competition Judge.

*        Identify the poem you are submitting by title, number of lines, and number of stanzas, especially if your poem is longer than a single page.

*        Sign your letter with your legal name. If there is a monetary prize, you may be unable to claim it if you use a nickname or pseudonym.

5. Follow the timelines issued by the competition. You may receive a letter acknowledging your submission. You may not. Wait until after the submission deadline has passed to query if your submission was received.

A standard submission letter might read:

Dear Poetry Judge,

Please consider the following poem, “My Dead Cat” (3 stanzas, 40 lines), for the Hay Poetry Competition.

I confirm that it is my original work.

Thank you for your consideration.


A Kenyan Poet


1. Do not submit someone else’s work as your own.

2. Do not use an unusual font or include embedded text or images unless the competition asks for them.

3. Do not submit error-ridden work.

4. Unless requested, do not append a biographical note or résumés.

To see the original call out for entries to the Storymoja Hay Festival Poetry Contest, have a look at this page.

That said, let us now turn our attention to the Kenyan Conversations Writing Contest. The Stories below were entered into the Storymoja/Generation Kenya – Kenyan Conversations Contest last week. Please read them, and vote on them to choose the story that will be entered into the Kenyan Conversations Final Judging Round.

The Prodigal Son: No one had come. It was on purpose. Linda’s idea he was sure. She wanted him to find his way back. Not because it would be a…

Soliloquy: Is this what my life has come to? Boarding beat matatus and brushing shoulders with filthy hawkers? A KAS for God’s sake-that must have been…

House Hunting: I have to move out of my one bedroom extension near Bomas in the next three days because my landlady decided to raise the rent from s…

6.42 am: To wrap her in a gunny sack and strap her down on the roof of my employer’s matatu with the farm produce? There has GOT to be another…

Remember, when you see the photos up, you can comment on the blog under the picture on the Storymoja Blog or Send in a story or dialogue that is not more than 500 words long to Clearly mark in the subject Contemporary/Kenyan Conversations (Insert Number indicated)

Have a look at the contest guidelines here before you send in your piece. All entries that do not adhere to contest guidelines will not be published.

The prize details are as follows:

1st Prize: 2000/-, 2 Storymoja books and 1 complimentary day pass to the Storymoja Hay Festival

2nd Prize: 1500/-, 1 Storymoja book, and 1 Complimentary day pass to the Storymoja Hay Festival

3rd Prize: 1000/-, and 1 complimentary Day Pass to the Storymoja Hay Festival

3 complimentary day passes for best comments on the pictures.

Be Part of the Kenyan Conversation! For more details, write to


2 comments on “Submitting to Poetry Competitions

  1. Muthoni
    August 17, 2010

    The conversations absolutely jazz me! Funny AND true. Whoever says Kenyans cannot write is not visiting our site!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Utotology
    September 15, 2010

    am not that a polished poet,that is why i didn’t enter the poetry competition but whoever says Kenyans cannot write could have been talking about this poem..

    The years of late have brought unglad tidings,
    spewing on the streets,was blood,silence then cries,
    with the principals was cool,but citizens never cease,
    long since i be glad,pondering is what i do with future,
    must feel for them,them that sleep in borrowed canvass.

    Chased without warning in 07,without guard of black 007,
    rushed with nothing but with your memories to camps,
    seven is said to be God’s number,God abandoned creations,
    bro against neighbor,bro against other sisters,Kenyan on Kenya,
    must feel for them,them that sleep in borrowed canvass.

    like on who was crushed,accident on Zebra crossing,
    uprooting is all the rave,bloody deadlines,home to camp,
    place of refuge guarded with security against crude weapons,
    going back to where one came,return is the mantra,
    must feel for them,them that sleep in borrowed canvass.

    Can only happen to the ‘weak’,’meek’,not politically connected,
    fake they say,yet they are some who are genuinely real,
    real to political fruits of divisions,emotional barriers,
    chased from home to camp ,chased from camp to___________,
    must feel for them,them that sleep in borrowed canvass.

    like the forgotten scourge AIDS,IDP’s too are rare lost,
    government for the people,but not by the principled lot,
    given ultimatums to vacate,o ooh!Kenya has no heart,
    where does one go,when rudely chased from a tent,
    must feel for them,them that sleep in borrowed canvass.

    It was them that sleep in charity tents,
    showground dwellings,state and people precincts,
    others given money,then told RUDI!,generation JIPANGE!
    resources are planned for top dogs houses,offices,multi-?
    yet others its paltry thousands,other ones told,FAKE!
    but all have now been packed hurriedly to no where,
    must feel for them,that that slept in borrowed canvass parks.


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This entry was posted on August 15, 2010 by in Writing.
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