Poets and rhymers of the world, welcome to the International WrapperRhyme Challenge!

Our aim is to extend the reach of this enjoyable artform, culminating in a major exhibition/installation at StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival, in 2020.

(If you can’t be bothered to read the rationale and the tips on best pens for the job — currently Artline Garden Marker — just go straight to the entry form).

Red Squirrel Press has just published some of my own WrapperRhymes. (I’m offering a unique, hand-written WrapperRhyme inside Branded sold via this website and — for those of you in or near Glasgow — there’s a WrapperRhyme launch event at the CCA on the 18th of this month).

But the WrapperRhyme challenge is really not about me.

As a poetry editor/publisher, I want to encourage people to rhyme, and rhyme well. It saddens me that rhyming is generally ‘out’ these days, despite the persuasive words of ace-rhymer A. E. Stallings, and the bizarre popularity of the villanelle. You may even have read that English is ‘rhyme-poor’, compared to French and Italian. Bollocks! All you need is practice and determination.

So what is a WrapperRhyme? Nick Asbury, together with Glasgow’s independent design studio Effektive, coined the term in 2011, after seeing an example by Ted Hughes written on the paper wrapping of a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer. This inspired a WrapperRhyme Tumblr site, to which poets were invited to contribute:

Alas, that wonderful WrapperRhyme site is no longer accepting contributions. But I am.

I want to attract WrapperRhymes (your very best, please) on food/beverage product wrappers from all over the world. These will be used to create an exhibition/installation at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, in March 2020.

Is this just silliness? Emphatically not. Like any other bit of lightness, it can be done badly, or well. My own attempts vary, but I’m smug about the best of them.

There’s an educative benefit too. WrapperRhyming makes you really look at packaging. Lists of ingredients provide fascination/horror/inspiration. You compare different brand designs. You pick up on rhythmic/alliterative marketing text.Before you know it, you find yourself researching the history of chocolate bar wrapping.

And you begin to notice what can be written on, and what can’t. Potato snack packets are almost impossible. The flimsy plastic surrounding most chocolate bars is daunting. In Ted Hughes’s day most food wrapping had a paper component. Now it’s not so simple.

Any committed WrapperRhymer requires a suitable writing implement. I turned to Cultpens, who meet and exceed the promise of their strapline —’the widest range of pens on the planet’. So far, the only pen I have found which will write on almost anything is an Artline Garden Marker (a snip at £2.03). But you could choose to write on the packaging of Toblerone, or Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Cardboard — easypeasy.

To date, I have WrapperRhymed on the paper sleeves of tins of tomatoes, baked beans, the labels of jars of beetroot and chutney, the cardboard wrapping of ‘readymeals’, butter paper, stock cube wrappers, frozen pea packets, and instant pastry. I have read the marketing text on each with minute interest and occasional horror.

Entries to the WrapperRhyme challenge are warmly welcomed from all ages, locations, and languages (but if not English, please provide a translation). They must be accompanied by an entry form (so that you give permission for your rhyme to be used in the exhibition) and of course they have to comply with the rules. The closing date is 25.12.2019.

If you need more information, send an email (but read the entry form and rules first). No limit to number of submissions.

Please share this opportunity and any of your WrapperRhyme creations as widely as you possibly can (#HapWrap). 

For International WrapperRhyme Entry form, click here.


  1. Oh! my oatie bars, my pocket meal. Saviour of the starved and wanderers in the wilderness.

  2. Oh dear what can the matter be
    On line iit says no longer than sixtee
    words but little leaflet with Branded pamphlet said to me
    that the largest number is seventy.
    So, please kind Helene
    Do I get the coloured Smartee
    for spotting this mistake (sorry run short of rhymes)

    Yes, the online information which I printed off says that the maximum number of words is 60 but the little printed leaflet with your pamphlet says 70. Can you please clarify?

  3. Oh dear what can the matter be
    On-line info says sixtee
    words, but leaflet with book says seventee
    So please kind Helene, tell me
    (and others) which is it to be.
    And do I get a chocolate Smartee
    – sorry now I am just getting plain silly (or should that be sillee)

    Yes, the information on line says 60 words but the leaflet that came with Branded says 70.

  4. Hi Marjorie — it is not as strict as a competition, so really a sort of gentle guide, and to encourage people to keep word lengths shorter rather than longer. But frankly I don’t mind if it’s 70, or even 80. I am just hoping that most of the rhymes will be a bit less. Hope that helps! Nell 🙂
    ps You definitely get a Smartie point of two for spotting inconsistency!

  5. Hi Nell one of my poems featured on the original wrapper rhymes site. SL Is it ok to submit it to you?

  6. Of course you can, Heather, if it’s written on a wrapper. It’s an exhibition, not a competition. Would love to have it. But also think you might write a new one!

  7. “You may even have read that English is ‘rhyme-poor’, compared to French and Italian. Bollocks! All you need is practice and determination.”

    The fact that you need practice and determination is precisely because English is rhyme-poor compared with inflected languages. I translate from modern Greek and German (and occasionally from French), and can certainly vouch for that. That’s not a reason not to rhyme, of course, though it doubtless accounts for the fact that English poetry has, from its beginnings, included a great deal of non-rhyming work.

    It’s interesting that a pretty large proportion of bad poetry uses end rhymes; the problem is that it generally lacks everything else. There’s probably about the right proportion of good poetry that rhymes, given the multitude of approaches to writing poetry (and internal rhymes are even more popular than end rhymes).

  8. Rebecca – click on the words ‘entry form’ above in red and again in the next window that appears and an Adobe PDF file with the form and rules should be attached.

  9. Dear Peter — I find English a wonderful language to rhyme in, although rhyme is only one of innumerable techniques of aural repetition and patterning. But I am happy that you take my comment sufficiently seriously as to write an extended comment about the differences between the languages and their traditions, as well as another observation about ‘bad poetry’ and end rhymes. Alas, this thread is not the place to discuss such issues constructively.

    But what I REALLY hope is that you will write a WrapperRhyme and that it will rhyme.

    I am more than happy for it to be in Greek, German or French. We haven’t had any in Greek or German yet, though we have two in French.

    Please gird your loins and set about the task!

    All the very best, Nell

  10. Hello, Marlene — it was not a competition. It was a challenge. The wrapperrhymes will be displayed in an exhibition at StAnza in St Andrews this coming March (2020). You can still send one, if you want to, provided it is on a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Wrapper — and with the entry form. So do try that!

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