Muriel Spark 100

| by Rachel Stevens

Marking the centenary of the birth of poet and novelist Muriel Spark with a call for poems inspired by a line from The Driver's Seat.

Muriel Spark 100: Necessarily Looking Backwards

Call for poems

During 2018, the National Library of Scotland is leading celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of Muriel Spark, a poet as well as a novelist and one of Scotland’s best loved – and most quoted – writers of the twentieth century. StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, is working with various partners to celebrate this centenary, including the British Council, the Muriel Spark 100 project, the Poetry Society and Polygon Books (who are producing new editions of Muriel Spark’s 22 novels for 2018, with introductions from contemporary writers including Ali Smith, William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith, Candia McWilliam, James Wood and Andrew O'Hagan). In association with these partners, StAnza is commissioning poets to write new poems responding to selected quotes from Muriel Spark’s novels. 

As part of this, with the British Council, StAnza is opening up the project to published poets living outside of the UK. The quote offered for this is the following from Muriel Spark’s novel, The Driver’s Seat 

“The inconceivable sorrow of it, those chairs piled up at night when you're sitting in a cafè. The last one left.”     


Rules and guidelines:

  • Write a short poem up to 14 lines long and no more than 45 characters wide, responding to the above quote.
  • Submit your poem in a Word or PDF format by email by 14 February 2018, together with a short biography (no more than 40 words) in English giving your name and a note of your book publications.
  • If the poem is written in a language other than English, an English translation should be accompany the submission.
  • We regret we cannot accept submitted poems from anyone who has not yet had at least one poetry collection published.
  • This document should have as its title, your name thus: surname, forename, followed by the title of your poem, for example: Scott, Walter – The Bridge 
  • The subject line of your email should be: submission to Muriel Spark 100.
  • Please insert the following sentence into your email:  “I confirm that I give my consent to my poem featuring in StAnza’s Muriel Spark 100 project.”
  • One of the poems submitted will be selected to feature in a digital installation at the StAnza 2018 festival in March 2018, Necessarily Looking Backward. Others will feature in related social media posts about the project. 

More information about StAnza 2018 is available online at  More information about the Muriel Spark 100 project is available online at  

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