Following several years of complaints that Rudyard Kipling’s texts for The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer are outdated, the organization responsible for the ceremony is seeking to commission two new poems to “help make the ceremony more inclusive and to reflect the diversity of contemporary society.”
An increasing number of engineering associations have called for changes to the ceremony since 2020, citing concerns around Kipling’s own controversial background, as well as Christian and patriarchal elements within the current texts drawing from three of Kipling’s poems.
While the organization behind the Iron Ring ceremony, the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, has already made attempts to modernize Kipling’s texts, complaints to replace it completely have persisted. As a result, the Wardens announced that it had formed a Ritual Review Committee in early 2022.
Now, the Wardens are seeking one new English poem and one new French poem as replacements, in part, to help mark the 100th anniversary of the ceremony in 2025. The two authors selected will each be awarded $3,500.
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“Although Kipling’s poems are well known and contain important messages and context, they were written approximately 100 years ago and it is the Corporation’s wish to modernize the ceremony with a poem that uses the language of today, while still respecting and capturing the themes and values of the Corporation,” state the Wardens in their call for submissions.
The ceremony, which also includes the presentation of an iron ring, is designed to direct newly qualified engineers “toward a consciousness of the profession and its social significance.”
The new poems must be gender neutral and written in contemporary language accessible and relevant to modern day participants in the ceremony, the Wardens said. The text must be relatable to candidates of all genders, religions, orientations, and physical abilities.
As part of the selection process, interested poets must first:
a) write a brief explanation (200 words or less) expressing why they are interested in the opportunity, b) include a biography, summary of qualifications and/or a CV, c) include samples of original poems and/or creative writing pieces.
Final poem selections will be made by the Corporation on September 30, 2024.
The deadline for initial expressions of interest is May 1, 2023. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org