Stiff Competition - the novel

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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 (21)

 


Added
3.9.23

 

Frogmore Poetry Prize.  This annual contest is run by Frogmore Press which was founded in 1983 in the Frogmore tearooms in Folkestone.  Well, what else can you do in Folkestone?  I’ll tell you what: you can fall in the sea - a feat I managed at the age of 8.  Will I ever forget that day?  Unlikely, for I had the misfortune to be rescued by my two sisters.  ‘No, no - let me drown!’ I cried.  ‘I’ll never be able to face my mates again.’  But I had the ice cream money in my pocket and so my pleas were ignored.  I later wrote a poem about the shame of it all but it would have been too long for this contest as it ran to 360 lines.  The line limit here is 40.
    Closing: 31.5.24.
    Prize: 1st - 250 guineas.  Classy.  You also get a two-year subscription to The Frogmore Papers.  2nd - 75 guineas and a year’s subscription.  3rd - 50 guineas and a year’s subscription.  Shortlisted poets also get copies of selected Frogmore Press publications, plus publicaion in the mag.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Comp Page:
Frogmore PP

 


Added
26.1.24

 

Wirral Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition.  Poems of up to 40 lines are invited for this long-running contest from the Wirral where Vikings once settled ... before being moved on by the council following complains of antisocial behaviour.
    Closing: 31.5.24.
    Prizes: Open - £250, 4 x £25.  Wirral Prizes - £100, 2 x £25
    Enry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
Wirral Poetry

 


Added
1.2.24

 

Bridport Prize.  This famous international competition from the Bridport Arts Centre is one of the most prestigious writing contests in the British literary calendar.  Everyone in the trade whose mind is not addled by drugs has heard of it, and they will be impressed if you can claim to have won it.  The good news is that winning it is easy.  All you have to do is submit the best poem or short story, the former having no more than 42 lines, the latter running to no more than 5,000 words.  For those who find 5,000 words too tiring to write there is now a flash fiction category for stories of up to 250 words (if that’s too much, consider becoming a poet).  There is also a First Chapter Award (see separate listing) for a novel opening and synopsis.
    Closing: 31.5.24.
    Prizes: Short Stories, Poems - (in each category) £5,000, £1,000, £500, and ten @ £100.  Flash Fiction - £1,000, £500, £250, and five @ £100.  Winning entries will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fees: Poems - £12.  Short Stories - £14.  Flash Fiction - £11.
    Comp Page:
Bridport Prize.

 

 

 

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
1.2.24

 

Yeovil Literary Prize.  This is the 23rd of these annual international contests from Yeovil, the literary capital of the West Country where even the sheep appreciate poetry.  There are five categories: Short Story, Poetry, Novel, Children’s & YA Novel, and Unrestricted.  The short stories can run to 2,000 words, while poems should be no more than 40 lines.  Adult Novels have a limit of 10,000 words for the opening chapters and synopsis.  Children’s & YA entries should be no more than 3,000 (opening) words with a 500-word synopsis, and can include one illustration.  The final category is unusual in that it’s for anything you have written - as long as it has ‘the Wow! factor’ (they mean ‘Wow - that’s brilliant!’ rather than, ‘Wow - you’ve really plumbed the depths with that one!’).  Your entry could be a particularly creative tax return, a witty note to the milkman, or that hilariously scathing critique of your former best friend’s novel, etc.
    Closing: 31.5.24.
    Prizes: Short Story - £600, £250, £125.  Poetry - £600, £250, £125.  Novel - £1,250, £500, £125.  Children’s & YA Novel - £600, £250, £125.  Writing Without Restrictions - £250, £125, £75.  In addition there is the Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award for a shortlisted writer living in the Western Gazette distribution area (mainly Dorset and Somerset).  It isn’t worth moving down there however as the prize is only £100.
    Entry Fee: Short Story - £8.  Poetry - £5.  Novel - £14.50.  Children’s & YA Novel - £12.50.  Writing Without Restrictions - £6.
    Comp Page:
Yeovil Lit Prize.

 


Added
1.5.24

 

McLellan Poetry Competition.  Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is looking for poems of up to 90 lines in English for its latest poetry contest.  There is a separate contest for the best poems in the Scottish language.
    Closing: 2.6.24.
    Prizes: £1,000, £250.  Scots language contest: £1,000, £250.
    Entry Fee: £7 for the first, £5 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Arran Poem

 


Added
2.3.24

 

Canterbury Poet of the Year Competition.  It’s back again: the annual international poetry contest from Canterbury Festival.  As usual, it is for poems of up to 60 lines.  Shortlisted poets will be asked to read their work via Zoom at the online awards evening on October 5, but they can if they wish nominate someone else to do this, including one of the judges.
    Closing: 7.6.24.
    Prizes: £200, £100, £50.  All longlisted entries (approximately 35) will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
Canterbury Festival Comp

 


Added
1.3.24

 

George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from the Suffolk Poetry Society, a registered charity, has been running since 1954.  It is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  To enter ,you will have to buy eligibilty by joining the Society unless you are already a member, or were born in Suffolk, Norfolk or Essex, or work or reside there, or have been educated there.  I don’t think it will be good enough if you merely identify as having been born in the area even though you were actually born in, say Glasgow, but these days you never know.
    Closing: 14.6.24.
    Prizes: £500, £250, £150.  Runners-up (2) - £100.  There will be an awards event at which winning and commended poems will be read, preferably by their authors.  The poems will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Comp Page:
Crabbe Poetry.

 


Added
13.5.24

 

Crysse Morrison Prize for Poetry.  Here’s a repeat of the poetry competition from the annual Frome Festival in Somerset.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines.
    Closing: 14.6.24.
    Prizes: 1st - £200.  2nd - £100.  3rd - £75.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
Froom Poetry

 

 

 

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
6.2.24

 

International Welsh Poetry Competition.  I know what you’re thinking: you’ll have to write a poem in Welsh for this one.  Not so, because there are only four poets in the entire world who write in Welsh, so the promoters are wisely asking for entries in English.  They’re also asking for no more than 50 lines.  These lines can be in any style and on any subject.  Award-winning poet Kathy Miles will be judging.
    Closing: 30.6.24.
    Prizes: £500, £250, £100.  Winners and 17 runners-up will be published in a future anthology.
    Entry Fee: £6.
    Comp Page:
Welsh Poetry.

 


Added
6.3.24

 

Wells Festival of Literature Competitions.  Here we have a return of the famous Wells Litfest and its various competitions: Poetry, Short Story, Book for Children, Young Poets.  I should mention before we go any further that we are talking about Wells in Somerset, not Wells in Norfolk which also has an annual litfest (I wouldn’t want you turning up at the wrong event to receive your prize or to berate the judges for not awarding you anything).  Anyway, back to business.  For the Poetry you are allowed up to 35 lines, while the Short Stories should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.  For the Book for Children, which must be suitable for youngsters aged 7+ (includes YA), you need to submit the first two chapters (or first 20 pages, this being the maximum) plus a synopsis of up to 2 pages (and don’t use a microscopic font that’s only suitable for the small print in dodgy contracts).  If shortlisted, you may be asked to submit the rest of your story.  The Young Poets category, for budding bards aged between 16 and 22, requires poems of no more than 35 lines.
    Closing: 30.6.24.  Opens for entries 1.4.24.
    Prizes: Poetry - £1,000, £500, £250.  Short Story, Book for Children (in each category) - £750, £300, £200.  Young Poets - £200, £150, £100.  Additional prizes: Local Prize for poetry, short story - £100 in each category.  Book for Children Local Prize - £100.
    Entry Fee: Adult categories - £6.  Young Poets - £3.
    Comp Page:
Wells Litfest.

 


Added
1.4.24

 

Ware Poets Poetry Competition.  Ware Poets of Hertfordshire are running their annual contest again, and as before it is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  There is a separate category for sonnets.  Winning poems are entered for the Forward Prize.
    Closing: 30.6.24.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £150.  Ware Sonnet Prize - £150.
    Entry Fee: £5 each, £13 for three and £4 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Ware Poets

 

 

 

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
7.4.24

 

Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize.  ‘Wasafiri’, according to the website, ‘is a literary magazine at the forefront of mapping new landscapes in international literature.’  Try saying that in Kiswahili, the language from which the magazine’s title comes.  Now, you are probably thinking that the magazine itself must hail from Africa, but this is not so.  It was born at the University of Kent in 1984, and as far as I know it has no African connection at all.  Nor, I might add, has the contest.  This has three categories (Poetry, Fiction, Life Writing) and is open to anyone anywhere in the world who has not published a complete book in their chosen category.  The word limit for the Fiction and Life Writing is 3,000.  In the poetry category, you can submit up to three poems (total words 3,000 max) for the same entry fee (start each poem on a separate page in the same document).  You can enter more than one category, but only once each.  Incidentally, ‘wasafiri’, in case your Kiswahili is a bit rusty, means ‘cultural traveller’.
    Closing: 1.7.24 (5pm).
    Prize (in each category): £1,000 and publication in the mag.  Winners will also be offered Chapter & Verse or Free Reads mentoring in partnership with The Literary Consultancy.  Shortlisted entries will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: £12.  If you enter two separate categories it’s £16.
    Comp Page:
Wasafiri Prize.

 


Added
1.5.24

 

Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition.  A welcome return for this annual contest from Ledbury in Wales.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines.  The judge this year is prizewinning poet Philip Gross.
    Closing: 8.7.24.
    Prize:  1st - £1,000 and a week’s poetry course with Arvonplus an Arvon poetry course (residential or online).  2nd - £500. 3rd - £250.  Winners will be invited to perform their work at the Ledbury Festival in 2025.
    Entry Fees: £6.
    Comp Page:
Ledbury Poetry

 


Added
1.5.24

 

Winchester Poetry Prize .  Back with a bang like a shot from a Winchester rifle is this annual contest from the Winchester Poetry Festival.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines.  Prizewinning poet Clare Shaw will be judging.
    Closing: 31.7.24..
    Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250.  Winners will be announced live at the Winchester Poetry Festival on Saturday, October 5, 2024.  Winning and commended poems will appear in an anthology which will be available on the day.  There is also a prize for the best poem written by a Hampshire-based poet.
    Entry Fee: £6 for the first, £5 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Winchester Fest.

 


Added
2.5.24

 

Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry Translation.  This year’s contest has changed, with the Adult category now open worldwide, and additional categories added.  To enter, translate into English any poem from any language (60 lines max, extracts are accepted), then submit it together with a commentary of up to 300 words (see website for details) and the original poem.  There are other categories as well as Adult and Youth (one for schools, one for Teachers and one for poems celebrating Portuguese culture).  There is even a category for  BSL translations (you send in a link to a sign language video along with your entry).
    Closing: 31.7.24.
    Prizes: Adults - 1st - £1,000 and publication in Modern Poetry in Translation magazine.  2nd - £500.  3rd - £250.  All three winners will be published the Stephen Spender prize booklet, and there will be online publication for others.  The winning poem will be published in the print edition of Modern Poetry in Translation.  Youth Categories: 18 and Under - £100 each for three winners.  14 and Under - £75 each for three winners.
    Entry Fee: Adults - £10 for the first, £5 each for up to two more.  Entry is free if you are 18 or under.
    Comp Page:
Spender Prize.

 


Added
29.2.24

 

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award .  The writing in question for this contest from Aesthetica Magazine is short fiction running to no more than 2,000 words, and poetry of up to 40 lines.  Submissions can be on any subject and may have been previously published.
    Closing: 31.8.24.
    Prize (in each category): £2,500 plus other writing related prizes.  Finalists will be published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual.
    Entry Fee: £18 for fiction, £12 for poetry.
    Comp Page:
Aesthetica Award.

 


Added
1.5.24

 

Fool for Poetry Competition.  To enter this international chapbook competition from Munster Literature Centre in southern Ireland you submit 16 to 24 pages of your work.  The poems can have been published before but they must not have appeared together in a book.
    Closing : 31.8.24.  Opens for entries 1.6.24.
    Prizes (in euroes): 1,000, 500.  The two winners will be published in chapbook form by Southword Editions.  Each will receive 25 free copies of their book.
    Entry Fee: 25 euros.
    Comp Page:
Fool Poetry

 


Added
1.5.24

 

NAWG Open Competition.  Waking from hibernation is this annual contest from the National Association of Writers and Groups.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines and stories of between 500 and 2,000 words.  In both cases your efforts should be aimed at adults.
    Closing: 31.8.24.
    Prizes: £200, £100, £50.  Winning entries may be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: £5 each (story or poem).  In the poetry category, three poems can be entered for £10.
    Comp Page:
NAWG Open

 


Added
1.5.24

 

Oxford Poetry Prize.  Here’s another international contest from Oxford Poetry, the oldest dedicated poetry magazine in the UK (founded 1910).  It is for poems of up to 50 lines.
    Closing: 31.8.24 (midnight UTC).
    Prizes : £1,000, £200, £100.  The winner will be published in a print issue of Oxford Poetry and online.  Second and Third prize winners will be offered publication.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page:
Oxford Poetry

 


Added
1.3.24

 

Hammond House International Writing Competitions.  This annual offering from Hammond House Publishing at University Centre Grimsby is for short stories of between 1,000 and 5,000 words, poems of up to 40 lines, scripts (theatre, radio, short film or TV) of up to 10 pages (approx. 10 minutes duration), and Songwriting in the form of just lyrics or complete songs.  In all categories the theme is Time.
    Closing: 30.9.24.
    Prizes: Short Story - £1,000, £100, £50.  Poetry - £250, £50, £25.  Script - £500.  Songwriting - £100 in each sub-category, plus the song will be played at the 2025 Literary Festival and released worldwide on the Hammond House record label.  All shortlisted entries in the Story and Poetry categories will be published in the anthology, as will the scriptwriting winners.  There will be a televised awards ceremony (so get your politically correct, virtue signalling acceptance speech ready - and don't forget to thank the train/taxi driver, etc, without whom you wouldn’t be there).
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page:
HH Lit Prize

 


Added
1.4.24

 

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Prize.  This regular visitor from the USA has now become two competitions in one: the Tom Howard Prize and the Margaret Reid Prize.  The former is for poems in any style, while the latter is for traditional verse as defined on the competition page.  In both cases the line limit is a very generous (some might say extravagant) 250.
    Closing: 30.9.24.  Opens for entries 15.4.24.
    Prizes: Tom Howard Prize (any style) - $3,500 + gift certificate.  Margaret Reid Prize (traditional verse) - $3,500 + gift certificate.  In addition there will be ten Honourable Mention awards of $300.  The Dishonourable Mention awards have been dropped this year following several suicides.  I wrote that last bit on April 1st.
    Entry Fee: $22 per submission (one submission can contain up to 3 poems).
    Comp Page:
TH & MR Poetry.

 


Added
1.5.24

 

Bedford Writing Competition.  This annual not-for-profit contest from Bedfordshire, home of the famous Shuttleworth Collection (old aeroplanes and cars) is for stories of up to 3,000 words and poems running to no more than 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.10.24.
    Prizes in each category (Poetry, Short Story): £1,500, £300, £200.  In addition there are special prizes for young writers and Bedford residents.  Shortlisted and winning entries will be published in an anthology (e-book and hardcopy).
    Entry Fee: £8.50 each, £17 for three.  Full-time students: £6 each, £12 for three.
    Comp Page:
BWC.

 

 

 

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

 
  

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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.
 

 
     
     

Finally, as you sift through the remnants of your shattered dreams and wonder if it’s worth going on ... www.samaritans.co.uk/


Disclaimer

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

My Humorous             Verse, Songs, etc
 

My Romantic Poetry      

This is the Prizemagic website

Email comps@prizemagic.co.uk

Copyright: Michael Shenton 2024



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