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Chalk Streams

Chalk Streams are one of Earth's rarest habitats and almost all of them are found in England. Of the 260 true chalk streams on Earth, 224 of them flow from underground chalk aquifers in a band across eastern and southern England.

Celebrated in books and paintings for their crystal-clear water and rich plant and animal life (dragonflies, otters, kingfishers, water voles, flag iris, and watercress), for many people chalk streams are the quintessential image of the English countryside.

Now, however, our chalk streams are in deep trouble. Threatened with over-abstraction of their water, increasingly severe heatwaves and summer droughts, together with pollution from water companies and industrial agriculture, many chalk streams are now unrecognisable - flowing thick and brown with sediment, or dried up, with plummeting numbers of plant and animal species.

Can you help by becoming their champion? Write a poem about chalk streams and become the Chalk Stream Poet Laureate. We are looking for two - one young, one older!

The Chalk Streams (Protection) Bill is being brought as a Private Member's Bill to the House of Commons by Sarah Green, MP for Chesham and Amersham. It aims to provide specific additional protection for chalk streams from pollution, abstraction and other forms of environmental damage. It will be heard on Friday 21st June. Thinking about chalk streams, talking about them, and letting your MP know that this is an issue you care about, will help to support this Bill become legislation.

How To Enter

You can submit as many poems as you wish.

The closing date is Friday 31st May 2024.

There will be medals to be won!

Submit a poem for a chance to become the Poet Laureate!


If the form is not working, simply email your details and your poem to chalkstreampoet@gmail.com. By submitting your poem you consent to it being published here and in other subsequent material, always credited to you.
How To Run The Competition

Do you have a chalk stream nearby? If so, why not focus on writing poems about that particular stream.

If not, imagine what you might like to do beside the perfect stream or river - swim? Kayak? Paddle? Picnic? Sketch? Or perhaps … nothing at all.

Perhaps you will be inspired to write a poem about a particular fish or insect or flower that is part of the chalk stream ecosystem: a heron, or a water beetle…

If you would like more information so that you can run this as a whole-school competition or as a homework activity, please email chalkstreampoet@gmail.com.

A set of powerpoint slides and a competition flyer are available for you to download here for you to adapt and use as you see fit.

Download the PowerPoint