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. 



UK Poetry Competitions (currently (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.




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.




Prole Laureate Poetry Competition.  Literary print journal Prole is running its annual Laureate competition again, and as usual there is no limit on length, style or subject.  The judge will be looking for poems that are engaging, accessible, challenging and entertaining.
     Closing: 20.12.23.
     Prizes: £200, £50, £50.  Winners will be published in Prole issue 35.
     Entry Fee: £3 for the first, £2 thereafter.
     Comp Page:
Prole Laureate




Creative Mind Writing Competitions 2024.  This year’s main contest from Creative Mind of Horwich in Lancashire has two categories: stories (up to 900 words) and poems (up to 40 lines).  The theme is Environment.  The second contest has the theme: Art & Society.  All other details are the same except for the closing date which is 29.3.24.
    Closing : 29.1.24 and 29.3.24.
    Prizes (in each category): £50, £30, £20.  Everyone whose work  appears in the competition anthology will receive a free copy and will be invited to the book launch.
    Entry Fee: £4, £7 for two, £9 for three.
    Comp Page:
Creative Mind




Moth Poetry Prize. This annual 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: 31.12.23.
    Prizes: 1st - 6,000 euros.  Runners-up (3) - 1,000 euros.  Commended (8) - 250 euros.
    Entry Fee: 15 euros.
    Comp Page:
Moth Poetry Comp.




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




Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Poetry Competition,  Let me be clear, this is not a contest for poems about snowdrops specifically.  The name derives from the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival.  The actual these of the competition is Nature Unbound.  There could be a place for a snowdrop or two in that, but it isn’t compulsory.  You have up to 30 lines to tackle this.  There is also a photography category.  For details, see website.
    Closing: 7.1.24.
    Prizes:  18 and over - £300.  12 to 17 - £100.  11 and under - £30.  There will be readings and a Prizegiving Ceremony at the Festival on Saturday, 17.1.24.
    Entry Fee: 18 and over: £4.  Under 18s can enter one poem free of charge.
    Comp Page:
Shepton Poetry:




Letter Review Prize.  This international contest from the USA is for short fiction of up to 5,000 words, non-fiction of up to 5,000 words, poetry of up to 70 lines and unpublished books (novels, novellas, short story collections, poetry collections and non-fiction books).  There is also a Reprints category for previously-published short stories, poetry and non-fiction of up to 5,000 words.
    Closing: 31.12.23 (11.59pm ET).
    Prizes: There is a  prize pool of $1,000 per category.  This will be shared between the top three winners.  Winners can opt to have a short extract from their entries published on the website. 
    Entry Fee: Poetry - $15.  Other categories $20.
    Comp Page:
Letter Review Prize




Enfield Poets Poetry Competition .  Poems of up to 50 lines are required for this one from Enfield Poets who are - surprise, surprise - based in Enfield.  The judge is David Constantine.
    Closing: 31.12 23.
    Prizes: £500, £350, £125.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
Enfield Poetry.




The Latin Programme Poetry Prize.  Don’t panic - you don’t have to write in Latin if you don’t want to.  But you do have to take your inspiration from the Latin term: ‘terra firma’ (solid ground).  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.  The contest judges are Clare Pollard, Antony Makrinos and Jonathan Goddard.
    Closing: 14.1.24.
    Prize: £200.  Shortlisted poems will be published in the 2024 Poetry Prize Anthology.
    Entry Fee: £14.
    Comp Page:
Latin Programme




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 prizewinning writer Raymond Antrobus.  It is not stated who the editors are.  The editorship rotates, they say.
    Closing: 31.1.24.
    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.




The Cheshire Prize for Literature.  This year’s contest from the University of Chester and Storyhouse has four categories: Short Story (up to 1,500 words), Poetry (up to 100 lines), Children’s Literature (story or poem with length limits as above but aimed at 7 to 14 age group) and Plays (up to 15 minutes, suitable for theatre, TV or radio).  To be eligible to enter you need to have lived, studied or worked at some point in Cheshire, Wirral, Warrington or Halton.  Documentary evidence may be requested, they say, so if nobody made a documentary about you while you were there, I’m afraid you’ve had it ... although it’s possible I’ve misunderstood this requirement.
    Closing: 31.1.24.
    Prizes (in each category): Cash prizes and book tokens (amounts unspecified at time of writing).
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter. You can submit up to 2 entries if they’re in different categories.
    Comp Page:
Cheshire Prize




Teignmouth Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Teignmouth (pronounced Tin-mth) in Devon is now open again.  It is for poems of up to 36 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 31.1.24.
    Prizes: Open - £600, £300, £200, £25 x 3.  Graham Burchell Award (for Devon residents only) - £200, £100, £50, £25 x 3.
    Entry Fee: Online - £5.50 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.  Postal - £5 for the first, £3 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Teignmouth Poetry




New Media Writing Prize.  Fiction or nonfiction written specifically for reading/viewing on electronic devices is required for this one.  Interativity is vital.  You can combine various digital media elements such as words, images and video clips, and I peronally think that if you can include a comments section where bitter under-achievers can slag off your efforts out of sheer spite, so much the better.  Short story, novel, poem, documentary, narrative game, etc, are all acceptable.
    Closing: 1.2.24 (Noon).
    Prizes:  Chris Meade Memorial UK New Media Writing Prize - £1,000.  Opening Up Award - £500.  Digital Journalism Award - £500 and a year’s FIPP membership.  IDN for Social Good Award - £500.  Student Award - TBD.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:




Valentines Poetry Competition .  Here we have a free-to-enter romantic poetry contest from Tree2MyDoor, a firm which, as the name indicates, can deliver trees to your door.  You can enter your poem (witty, soppy,romantic or silly) in writing or as a video clip.  Videos should be no longer than 60 seconds, while written poems can be up to 150 words.
    Closing: 14.2.24 at midday (opens for entries 1.2.24).
    Prizes: 1st - £100 in Tree2MyDoor vouchers.  The first 50 customers who have had a poem published on the website will received a 50% discount on the item purchased (Valentine's order).
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
Valentine Poem.




Elmbridge Literary Competition.  The RC Sheriff Trust and Elmbridge Borough Council have teamed up again to present this annual multi-category contest for poetry and short stories.  The theme this year is Fame, seeking which is like sitting on a beehive to take a selfie: eventually you will wish you hadn’t.  Short stories should be a maximum length of 1,000 words for writers aged between 8 and 13, and 1,500 words for those aged 14+.  Poems can be up to 30 lines.  There is a Little Rhymes and Stories category for youngsters aged 5 to 7, with the rhymes running to no more than 20 lines and the stories to 500 words.  There are strict entry instructions in the T&Cs.  Read ’em or weep.
    Closing: 23.2.24 (5pm).
    Prizes: 19+ age group poem - £250, £150, £100.  19+ short story - £250, £150, £100.  14 to 18 category - £35, £30, £25.  11 to 13 - £35, £25, £20.  8 to 11 - £25, £20, £15.  5 to 7 - £25, £15, £10.  Elmbridge Prize (for an Elmbridge resident) - £50 book token.  Adult prizes, with the exception of the Elmbridge Prize, are in cash, the rest in book tokens.  Winning entries will be published in a chapbook with an ISBN.  Each writer will receive 60 copies.
    Entry Fee: Adults £5.  Under 18s free.
    Comp Page:
Elmbridge Literary.




Paul Cave Prize for Children’s Literature.  The contest, which comes courtesy of Tim Sannders Publications, is for writing aimed at youngsters aged between 5 and 12.  It has three categories: Short Story (up to 5,000 words), Flash Fiction (up to 500 words), and Poetry (all forms, up to 50 lines).  Illustrations as specified on the website can be submitted, but these are not obligatory (a suitable illustration might be chosen for the front cover of the book).
    Closing: 28.2.24.  Open for entries from 30.11.23.
    Prizes: Best story - £75.  Best Flash Fiction - £10.  Best poem - £20.  Winners will be published in the Paul Cave Prize for Children’s Literature 2024 book, with a free copy going to each of the contributors.  Extracts will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: Short stories - £30 each, £40 for two.  Poems and Flash Fiction - Up to three £10, up to 8  £15.
    Comp Page:
Paul Cave Prize




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




Plaza Poetry Prize.  You have 60 lines to impress the judge in this poetry contest from Plaza Prizes Ltd.
    Closing: 29.2.23.
    Prizes: £1,000, £300, £100.  The ten shortlisted entries will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £12 for the first, £6 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Plaza Poetry.




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 read some of the past winning entries.
    Closing: 1.4.24.
    Prizes: 1st - $2,000 plus a gift certificate.  2nd - $500, $250.  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.




Ver Poets Open Competition.  Here’s a repeat of the annual contest from Ver Poets of St Albans in Hertfordshire.  It is for poems of up to 30 lines on any subject.  The judge this year is Merryn Williams.
    Closing: 30.4.24.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £100.  Winning and selected poems will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three, £3 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Ver Poets.




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 answer the question: How does war affect people’s lives?
    Closing: 24.5.24.
    Prizes: Prizes will be announced later in the competition, they say.  These will include some exciting experiences.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  You can enter each of the four categories once.
    Comp Page:




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




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






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 ...


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

My Humorous              Poetry, Songs,

This is the Prizemagic website


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