Sarah Stone, Director and Founder of Stone Barrell

We were so inspired by the Tower Poetry Competition, we chose to write this blog about our collaboration in the form of three limericks. Shame we’re more than a decade too old to enter…

Tower Poetry Competition,
Needed a designer with vision.
They chose to pick Jake,
Was it a mistake?
It was not. The man’s a magician.

This year’s chosen theme is of ‘Mirror’.
So strong, doesn’t it make you shiver?
Reflects, shines and bends,
Many ideas lends,
We think they are onto a winner.

We wanted colours bright and bold,
And shapes that would trick, bend and mould.
Our clients were thrilled,
And have now been billed,
And thousands of schools are involved.

Jake holding up the designs Stone Barrell made for Tower Poetry, inspired by this year's theme 'Mirror'
Jake proudly displaying his mirror masterpiece


The competition: Run by Oxford University’s Christ Church, the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition is for 16-18 year olds who love writing poetry (or want to give it a go!). It’s now in its 24th year.

Tower Poetry leaflet designed by Stone Barrell, in front of Christ Church tower

The theme: Every year, the Tower Poetry team chooses a different theme for aspiring poets to write about. This year, the theme is ‘Mirror’.

The prize: £5,000 is up for grabs for the winner, with runners-up receiving between £500 and £3,000.

The job: Tower Poetry needed some graphic design help for their 2024 competition. We were tasked with creating:

  • An illustration design
  • x1 A3 poster 
  • x1 A4 poster 
  • x1 A5 leaflet 2 (double-sided)
  • x1 A5 booklet 
  • x1 A6 invitation (double-sided)
  • Social media backgrounds (range of sizes)

The audience: Our designs have been sent to:

  • 5,706 schools
  • 171 sixth forms
  • 301 further education institutions
  • 501 pupil referral units
  • Plus a variety of bookshops, libraries and poetry groups

You read that right, 6,679 educational institutions have received our designs and we’re basically famous amongst the UK’s teenage population at this point…

Why the competition is important: We’ll let Megan Chester, the Tower Poetry Administrator (pictured above chatting with me about this project), answer this one. “I am super passionate about encouraging young people to write poetry,” says Megan. “There’s a freedom in poetry, but it’s also quite a safe space in which to write about things that you're thinking about, things that are important to you, to try out new ideas and to get a real appreciation for language, what language can do and how you can play with it. 

“I think the Tower Poetry Competition is a great way for young people to give poetry a go. It’s free to enter and we welcome poems from people who’ve written loads before and people who’ve never written before. I think it’s just really important for young people to get a chance to do something they enjoy, and to have their voices heard.”

Tower Poetry designs by Stone Barrell held aloft at Christ Church College Oxford

How did Megan and the team at Tower Poetry find working with Stone Barrell?

“It was fantastic working with Stone Barrell,” says Megan. “You were always incredibly on time. I loved the ideas and energy you put into the designs. You also really took on board what we chatted about when we first talked about the project, and then ran with it in a way that we couldn't have done on our own. So yeah, it's been really, really good working with you. Thank you.”

Thanks Megan! I guess we’ll put our poetry careers on hold for now and keep doing what we’re doing…

Help keep Sarah away from a career as a failed poet. Drop us a message and let’s collaborate on some compelling content.

Find out more about the Tower Poetry Competition and share it with any 16-18 year olds you know.