Stiff Competition - the novel

My Novel

Page Title: Poetry Competitions

Current UK Poetry Competitions

Stiff Competition - the novel

My Novel


 
 

Despite my success at getting my poetry published (see Verse page), I’ve never won a poetry competition, but I did once win a cash prize for a short story, and then of course I won the Peter Pook Humorous Novel Contest with Stiff Competition, a novel that had previously been rejected by a top publisher for being too funny (see Comps Novel).  I therefore speak from experience when I say that winning small competitions doesn’t lead to overnight fame.  But having a few such successes to boast about does you no harm when approaching publishers, so if your dream is to get a book of poetry published, this could be the place to begin.  Or maybe you just want to win some prize money.  Note that the judges of poetry competitions seldom have the same tastes as editors and publishers, so in order to get your eye in you need to study poetry competition winners rather than just published poems.

     Below is a list of the most interesting UK poetry competitions I’ve seen recently (entry is not necessarily limited to UK residents).  I’ve done my best to vet them and eliminate the dodgy ones, but I can offer no guarantees.

     Bear in mind that poetry comps with smaller prizes attract fewer entries and are therefore easier to win. 

 
 

3

UK Poetry Competitions (currently (27)

 


Updated
 16.2.21

 

Writers’ Forum Poetry Competition.  This monthly contest from the glossy magazine Writers’ Forum is for poems of up to 40 lines on any thme.
    Closing: Monthly.  Entries arriving too late for one month automatically go forward to the next.
    Prize: £100 and a Chambers dictionary.
    Entry Fee: £7 (includes a short critique).
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Updated
11.10.17

 

Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize.  Entries for this open contest from Wales are invited from beginners and established poets. Submit 15 to 25 poems of up to 50 lines each.
    Closing: Annually - 31 March.
    Prizes (4): A publishing contract plus 30 copies of the pamphlet.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 29.6.17

 

Hour of Writes Competition.  To enter this new weekly peer-reviewed contest from Manchester you submit a piece of writing of any type you choose running to no more than 2,000 words. There is a different theme every week.
    Closing : 11pm every Friday.
    Prize: £50 (usually the minimum, they say; prize increases if more entries are received).
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

And now a word from our sponsor.  Hello.  I’m Michael Shenton, creator of this website and author of Stiff Competition , winner of the Peter Pook Humorous Novel Competition.  People who are looking for me through search engines can remember just about everything about the website save its name and, more distressingly for me, my name. They search for ‘Peter Pook author’, ’the man who wrote Peter Pook’, ‘that bloke who won the cars’ and all manner of other odd things, but never ‘Michael Shenton’. The sole purpose of this site is to get my name known in the hope that one day dozens of people will buy my current novel and any others I manage to get published.  So would you all kindly make a note of it.  Michael Shenton.  Thank you.

 


Added
7.11.21

 

The6ress Poetry Competition.  Here’s a freebie from the6res, and here’s a quote from the website: ‘the6res is a curator of creative curios.  We adore and publish the weird and wonderful work of artists and poets ...’   For the competition, they are seeking poems of up to 40 lines on the theme of ‘Invitation to Love’, inspired by the dramatic soap opera show-within-a-show featured in the American TV mystery/horror/drama series Twin Peaks.  Tricky if you never watched the series, but you can research it online - or just do something weird and wonderful and hope for the best.
    Closing: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: 1st - £75 + certificate + invitation to read at launch event.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
the6res Invitation

 


Added
1.10.21

 

Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, is for poems of up to 40 lines in English on any subject.
    Closing: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: 1st - 2,000 euros, publication in Southword Journal, and a week’s residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, plus hotel and board at the Cork International Poetry Festival (March 2021).  2nd - 500 euros and publication in Southword Journal.  3rd - 250 euros and publication in Southword Journal.  Runners-up (10) - publication in Southword Journal and a fee of 50 euros.
    Entry Fee : 7 euros each, 30 euros for five.
    Comp Page:
Greg OD Poetry.

 


Added
1.6.21

 

Snapshot Press Book Awards.  This poetry contest from Snapshot Press of Ormskirk is for  book-length collections of between 60 and 100 haiku, tanka and other short poetry up to 25 lines including any blank lines (prose poems and haibun up to 200 words).  Poems must not have been previously published in a collection.
    Closing: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: Publication by Snapshot Press.
    Entry Fee: £20 per collection.
    Comp Page:
Snapshot Short Poetry .

 


Added
5.9.21

 

Cafe Writers Open Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Cafe Writers of Norwich (where the Man in the Moon was keen to go, according to a report I read as a child) is for poems of up to 40 lines.
    Closing: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: £1,000, £300, £200.  Runners-up (5) - £50.  Norfolk Prize (for a permanent Norfolk resident) - £100.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three, £2 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Cafe Poetry.

 


Added
7.11.21

 

Love Letters to London Competition.  The London Society aims to celebrate London in all its life, charm and mystery with this free writing competition.  You have 500 words or 40 lines of poetry to say why you love this city.  The theme is Recovery and Resilience.  There are five categories: Under 18; Students 18+ in full-time education; Open; International; Poetry.
    Closing: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: Category winners - £400, £200, £100.   There will be an additional prize of £500 for the overall winner, as picked by the category winners.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
London Love Letters

 


Added
1.10.21

 

The Latin Programme Poetry Prize.  Don’t panic - you don’t have to write in Latin, but you do have to take your inspiration from the Latin phrase: ‘omnia vincit amor?’ You have up to 40 lines to work that one out.  The Latin Programme, incidentally, is a registered charity with a mission to improve literacy in London state schools.
    Closing: 1.12.21.
    Prize: £200.
    Entry Fee: £12.  Shortlisted poets will be invited to share their work at an event hosted in partnership with the Broadway Bookshop in February 2022
    Comp Page:
Latin Programme

 


Added
1.11.21

 

Anansi Archive Writing Awards.  Here’s a new freebie you might like to have a go at.  It comes from the Anansi Archive, a new writing community committed to supporting all levels of literary endeavour.  The contest has three categories: Poetry of up to 500 words, flash fiction of up to 500 words, and short fiction of up to 3,000 words.  There is no theme.
    Closing: 1.12.21.
    Prizes: Poetry and Flash Fiction - £20, £10.  Short Fiction - £50, £20.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Anansi Awards

 


Added
19.10.21

 

Foxes’ Retreat Writing Competition.  The writing in question should be a sonnet or set of sonnets on the theme of personal values and beliefs.  The contest is for humans rather than foxes, but if you identify as a fox and look like a fox, rest assured there is nothing in the rules that could lead to your disqualification.
    Closing: 21.12.21.  Opens for entries 31.10,21
    Prize: 1st - A two-night stay for two at Foxes’ Retreat’s The Hayloft in the Peak District, with various edible goodies.  2nd - A one-hour 1:1 afternoon coaching for writing session.  3rd - A three-hour afternoon writing workshop place.
    Entry Fee: £7.
    Comp Page:
Foxes Retreat

 

 

 

Dear Michael
   I discovered your excellent site a few months back and entered some of the poetry competitions. I have in all my long years never received a payment for anything I have written, but I today received an email from Cooldog Publications to say I have won second prize in their E-mag Poetry Competition! £50! What a great way to start the new year.
   I just had to write and say thanks to you for the trouble you have taken with your site and how much I appreciate the sense of humour that underpins it.
  This has given me a terrific boost.
                                                                                -  Carol Browne

 


Added
2.8.21

 

Moth Poetry Prize. This annual international contest from Irish magazine The Moth is for poems of any length and on any subject.  I should perhaps mention that the magazine is not devoted to the subject of moths, fascinating though these may be.  It is an arts and literature magazine.  Presumably the name is a reference to the way artists and writers are attracted to the light of recognition only to beat their wings in vain against an invisible barrier until finally, broken and defeated, they slide down to the windowsill of despair.  You’d think the magazine people could have come up with something a bit more cheerful than that, wouldn’t you?
    Closing: 31.12.21.
    Prizes: 1st - 6,000 euros.  Runners-up (3) - 1,000 euros.  Commended (8) - 250 euros.
    Entry Fee: 15 euros.
    Comp Page:
Moth Poetry Comp.

 


Added
5.8.21

 

Melita Hume Poetry Prize.  This year’s Melita Hume poetry prize from Eyewear Publishing is, as usual, for first full-length collections by poets aged 35 or under, resident in the UK or Ireland.  To enter, you submit between 48 and 100 pages.
    Closing: 3.1.22.
    Prizes: Publication with a £1,000 advance.
    Entry Fee: £15.
    Comp Page:
Melita Hume Prize

 


Added
25.10.21

 

Shepton Snowdrop Festival Poetry Competition.  Back again after hibernating during the worst of the pandemic is this contest from Shepton Mallet in Somerset which, as I’m sure you know, is famed for its Snowdrop Festival.  Yes, they’re big on snowdrops in Shepton Mallet.  I believe they even serve snowdrop beer in the pub, along with snowdrop pie and chips - and so you won’t be surprised to learn that the theme of the contest is daffodils.  I jest of course.  The theme is ‘Hope in Nature’, and you have up to 30 lines to explore this in any form (sonnet, haiku, blank verse, etc).  Award-winning poet Pascale Petit will be judging, and on the comp page you can read her comments on what she will be looking for.
    Closing: 9.1.22.  Opens for entries 1.12.21.
    Prizes: Adults (18 and over) - £200, 12 to 17 - £70, 11 and under - £50.  Readings and prize-giving will take place during the Festival weekend at 2pm on 19.2.22.
    Entry Fee: Adults - £4 (up to 5 entries per person).  Other age categories free to enter (one per person).
    Comp Page:
Snowdrop Fest Poetry.

 


Added
1.11.21

 

Magma Poetry Competition.  Here’s another outing for a regular runner from the Carshalton-based poetry magazine Magma.  It has two categories: Judge’s Prize (for poems of 11 to 50 lines), and Editors’ Prize (poems of up to 10 lines).  This year’s judge is prize-winning poet Marvin Thompson.  It is not stated who the editors are.  The editorship rotates, they say.
    Closing: 14.1.22.
    Prizes (in each category): £1,000, £300, £150.  Winners will have their poems published in the magazine and will, along with commended poets, be invited to read at the prize-giving event.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £4 for the second, £3.50 thereafter.  It’s cheaper for subscribers.
    Comp Page:
Magma Poetry.

 

 

 

Hi Michael,
     Thanks for a very useful website. Since finding the contact details on your site, I've won the Txtlit competition twice, and the Write Invite competition four times. With the prize money I'm now entering other competitions. Thanks for keeping us writers posted!
     Best regards, Uta Coutts

 


Added
1.10.21

 

Edward Thomas Poetry Competition 2022.  This contest from the Edward Thomas Fellowship is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.  Prize-winning poet Jamie McKendrick will be judging.
    Closing: 15.1.22.
    Prizes: £150, £75, £25.
    Entry Fee: £3 each.  Maximum entry three.
    Comp Page:
ETF Poetry.

 


Added
1.11.21

 

The Ginkgo Prize.  This international contest is billed as the world’s biggest ecopoetry prize, and I’m quite prepared to accept that it might be, although I have to confess that I’ve done no research on the subject.  If you are running a bigger ecopoetry contest, by all means let me know.  In the meantime, let’s give this one the benefit of the doubt.  Your poem can be any length, so you have a licence to kill (bore ‘em to death), but I think it would be advisable to exercise a measure of restraint.  As well as the main category, there is one for landscape poetry.
    Closing: 31.1.22.
    Prizes: £5,000, £2,000, £1,000.  Landscape Poem - £500.
    Entry Fee: £7 for the first, £4 thereafter.  Entry into the Landscape Poem category is free if you’ve entered the main category.
    Comp Page:
Ginkgo Prize

 


Added
13.11.21

 

SLQ Poetry Competition.  This regular contest from Sentinel Literary Quarterly is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject and in any style.  Visual poems are welcome, they say, if the image fits on a single A4 page.  The contest is open worldwide.
    Closing: 31.1.22.
    Prizes: 1st - £250.  2nd - £125.  3rd - £75.  Runners-up - 3 x £30, 3 x £20, 3 x £10.
    Entry Fee: £5 for one, £8 for two, £10 for three and so on.
    Comp Page:
SLQ Poetry.

 


Added
1.11.21

 

Teignmouth Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Teignmouth (pronoumced Tin-mth) in Devon is now open again.  It is for poems of up to 36 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 31.1.22.
    Prizes: Open - £600, £300, £200.  Graham Burchell Award (for Devon residents only) - £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fee: Online - £4.50 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.  Postal - £4 for the first, £3 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Teignmouth Poetry

 


Added
1.11.21

 

Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.  I used to think hippocrates were wooden containers used at the zoo for transporting large herbivores.  Of course I now know that Hippocrates was in fact a great medical poet, and this international contest is obviously being run in his honour.  Poems of up to 50 lines on a medical subject are required.  There are two categories, Open, and Health Professional.  Actually there’s a third category - Young Poets - but as it has a later closing date I’m listing it separately.
    Closing: 14.2.22.
    Prizes (in each category): £1,000, £500, £250.  Winning poems will be published online and in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £7 online, £10 postal.
    Comp Page:
Hippocrates Poetry.

 


Added
7.11.21

 

Guernsey International Poetry Competition.  This contest from the Guernsey Literature Festival is for poems of up to 14 lines that fit on a single A4 page.  There are three categories: Open (adults 18 and over), Channel Islands Poetry (adults 18 and over born or resident in the Channel Islands), Young People’s Poetry (ages 11 to 17).
    Closing: 17.2.21.
    Prizes: Open - £1,000, £500, £200.  Channel Islands Poetry Category - £250, £50, £30.  Young People’s Category - £250, £50, £30.  Winning poems will be displayed on Guernsey buses, and a selection of these will become part of an exhibition at Guernsey Airport and other venues all over the islands.
    Entry Fees: Open and Channel Islands Categories - £4 each, £10 for three.  Young People’s category - Free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Poems on the Move

 


Added
1.11.21

 

Hippocrates Young Poets Prize for Poetry and Medicine.  This international contest is open to young poets of between 14 and 18.  Poems of up to 50 lines on a medical subject are required.
    Closing: 1.3.22.
    Prize: £500.  Winning poems will be published online and in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Hippocrates
Young Poets.

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     I spent a year or so reading all those comments on your website from people who, since consulting your list, seem have won just about every competition going. I read it and thought it must be too good to be true – but worth a try. Then, on my third submission, I have actually gone and won the Yeovil Literary Prize for Poetry. I am absolutely over the moon, unable to believe it, etc.  Thank you so much.
                                                                                   -  Andy Miller

 


Added
4.11.21

 

Never Such Innocence Poetry Competition.  Here we have a freebie for youngsters between the ages of 9 and 18.  It has four categories - Poetry, Art, Speech and Song - but here I deal only with the first.  Your poem, which should run to no more than 40 lines, must have the theme of Life After Conflict.
    Closing: 18.3.21.
    Prizes: Winners in all four categories will be invited to participate in unique experiences including NSI’s awards Ceremony.  All participants will receive a special certificate of commendation for their work.  In previous years participants have gone on to present their work at prestigious locations such as Buckingham Palace, and have received letters of congratulations from prime ministers and presidents
.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Innocence

 


Added
1.10.21

 

Fish Poetry Competition.  Poems of up to 300 words are invited for this contest from Fish Publishing based in southern Ireland.  Billy Collins will again be judging.
    Closing: 31.3.22.
    Prizes: 1st - 1,000 euros.  2nd - A week’s residency at Anam Cara Writers’ retreat.  3rd - 200 euros.  The top 10 poems will be published in the Fish Anthology 2022.
    Entry Fee: 14 euros, for the first, 8 euros thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Fish Poetry.

 


Added
1.8.21

 

Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Competition.  This annual freebie from Winning Writers in the USA is for published or unpublished humorous poems of up to 250 lines.  Before entering, it is advisable to check some of the past winners and judge’s comments (in the Contest Archives), as here you will find information about things the judges frown upon.
    Closing: 1.4.22 (opens for entries 16.8.21).
    Prizes: 1st - $2,000 plus a gift certificate.  2nd - $500.  Runners-up (10) - $100.  The top 12 entries will be published online.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  One entry per person.
    Comp Page:
Wergle Flomp .

 
  

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Notes: Unless otherwise stated in the rules, poetry should be single-spaced.  It is sometimes the case that your name shouldn’t appear on the manuscript. Check the rules.  If you put your name on there after being told not to, you’re out.  Don’t use coloured paper or fancy fonts.  The colour and pizzazz to make you stand out from the crowd should be in the words.  Plain white A4 80gsm paper is the stuff to use, with plain black typing or print.  My preferred font for poetry manuscripts printed on an inkjet or laser printer is Gill Sans in 12 point (13 if I’m not pressed for space).  This gives a clear, dark print that’s easy to read.  Although publishers and agents sometimes demand the feeble Courier font, which comes out on my printers like something produced by a typewriter with an antique ribbon, I’ve never known competition organisers to express any preference.  But as always, check the rules.  Finally, write on one side of the sheet only - unless asked to put your address, etc, on the back.
 

 
     

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Disclaimer

   
For other types of writing contests see the full list on my Writing Comps page.
 


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