Muscat: The presence of a strong tradition of story writing and poetry in Oman is what gives a huge response to the annual Children's Writing Competition organised by the Dar Al Atta'a Let's Read Committee. All set for the seventh edition of this event, the organisers have kept March 13 as the last day for receiving poetry on the theme 'My Dream'.
Speaking to Times of Oman, Jane Jaffer, head of Dar Al Atta'a Let's Read Committee, said, "Over the years, the number of children participating has grown significantly. In 2012, we had more than 600 entries from 23 different schools around the country.
"The quality and standard of the entries has also improved enormously. The best entries have an opportunity to see their work in print. In 2009, we published the best stories in a book titled Tales With A Twist."
The committee is now in the process of publishing Stories from Oman, a compilation of the winning stories from the last two competitions.Explaining that this year's theme is certainly different from the previous six contests, Jane said, "We are inviting students to create a poem titled My Dream. This can be interpreted as 'hopes and dreams' or 'dreams and nightmares' so there is a lot of scope.
"There is such a strong tradition of poetry in Oman that we are hoping for an even greater response this year. Any student from the ages of four to 18 can enter the competition, as we assess them according to three age groups: 4-8 years, 9-13 years and 14- 18 years."
The poems can be written in either English or Arabic. The poem may be written in rhyming or free verse, and it can be funny, sad, thought-provoking, scary or uplifting etc. The 10 members of the Let's Read Committee will be judging the competition along with the guest judges this year, Sally Sleep, President of the Women's Guild of Oman, and Bushra Al Wahaibi, a well known Omani writer who has published two books.
"The judges always have a very long and difficult task assessing the entries and deciding on the winners. This year they will be looking for originality, use of language and how well the students have tackled the theme in poetic form," Jane said.
Winning entries will be awarded trophies and prizes, and the winners will also have the opportunity to see their work in print.Organisers said the poems should be typewritten and should be no more than 12 lines long.
The poems must be the student's own work and must not be copied or written by others; the poem should be clearly marked with the student's name, age, school and contact number.
The telephone number and email address of the school must be included.
Entries should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted or delivered to: Dar Al Atta'a, Building no. 119, Bashaer Street, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos Tel: 24692996 PO Box 156, Jawarat Al Shatti, PC 134 Muscat.