Tower Poetry exists to encourage and challenge everyone who reads or writes poetry. Funded by a generous bequest to Christ Church, Oxford, by the late Christopher Tower, the aims of Tower Poetry are clear: to stimulate an enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education, and to challenge people to write their own poetry. Creative writing should be a central element in literary education, and learning about writing poetry can help students to think about ways of reading poetry.
Tower Poetry is headed by the poet and academic, Peter McDonald. He is the first holder of the Christopher Tower Studentship and Tutorship in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford, and he also holds a lectureship in the English Faculty of Oxford University. He teaches the composition of poetry to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as teaching and lecturing on poetry and poets more widely. A highly regarded critic of contemporary poetry, his own poetry has been widely anthologised and a new collection will be published later this year.
Central to the work of Tower Poetry is the belief that the encouragement of young people to write poetry can foster a creative appreciation that is essential for a mature understanding - and contribution to - cultural life in the future. The Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes, launched in 2000, offer young people a major opportunity to write poetry. Each year, students between the ages of 16-18 years are asked to submit poems on a set theme, and the Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes have rapidly established themselves as the most prestigious poetry awards in the UK for this age group.
The Christopher Tower Prizes are, and will remain, a major element in the work of Tower Poetry. However, in response to the success of the competition, Tower Poetry intends to develop its work in poetry education through other ventures. The first Christopher Tower Summer School was held at Christ Church in 2003. This residential course brought a number of students together and allowed them to write their own poetry in a stimulating and enjoyable environment. Those who took part in the event responded enthusiastically to its creative challenges, and, from 2005, the Summer School will become an annual event, giving more young people the opportunity to discover and nurture their individual creative talents.
Other projects are under development, including lectures, poetry readings, publishing ventures and sponsorship programmes. We also hope that you will explore and use this website as a creative resource. As well as keeping you up-to-date about Tower Poetry activities, it will bring you wide-ranging information and news through book reviews, event listings, and a thought-provoking - and sometimes controversial - monthly column looking at the place of poetry in the UK today.