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Page Title: Poetry Competitions

Current UK Poetry Competitions

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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 (26)

 


Updated
 29.6.17

 

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
24.12.20

 

Edward Thomas Poetry Competition 2021.  This annual contest from the Edward Thomas Fellowship is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.  Prize-winning poet Jane Draycott will be judging.
    Closing: 18.1.21.
    Prizes: £150, £75, £75.  There are also up to six Highly Commended prizes of £25.
    Entry Fee: £3 each.  Maximum entry three.
    Comp Page:
ETF Poetry.

 


Added
10.4.20

 

The Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition.  Here’s another corker from Ireland. It’s from County Cork to be exact, and it’s for poems of up to 50 lines (including line breaks).  Entries must feature the five words given on the competition page for that week.  A shortlist of 12 poems will be selected after the final closing date next January, and the winner will be chosen from that.  Ó Bhéal, incidentally, is a weekly poetry event in Cork (and as you probably know, the word itself is Irish for ‘word of mouth’).
    Closing: Every Tuesday at noon until 26.1.21.
    Prizes: 750 euros, 500 euros, 250 euros.  The three winners will be invited to read at Ó Bhéal’s anniversary event in Ireland on 12.4.21, with travel expenses of 100 euros and B&B accommodation.
    Entry Fee: 5 euros.
    Comp Page:
Ó Bhéal Five Words.

 


Added
4.11.20

 

Kent & Sussex Poetry Society Open Competition .  This annual contest from Kent & Sussex Poetry Society is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject and in any style.  The judge, poet Rishi Dastidar, will read all the submissions.
    Closing: 31.1.21.
    Prizes: £1,000, £300, £100, 4 x £50.  Winners will be published in the society’s Poetry Folio.
    Entry Fee: £5 each.  Three or more £4 each.
    Comp Page:
K&S Poetry.

 


Added
7.11.20

 

BHS Haiku Competition.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief.  This contest from The British Haiku Society is for tanka and haibun as well as haiku.  That’s all I have to say.
    Closing: 31.1.21.
    Prizes (in each category): £125, £50.
    Entry Fee: £5.50 for three haiku, tanka or haibun.
    Comp Page:
Haiku Society

 


Added
7.11.20

 

Teignmouth Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Devon is running again this year even though the Festival itself has fallen victim to the dreaded virus.  The contest is for poems of up to 36 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 31.1.21.
    Prizes: Open - £500, £250, £100.  Local (for Devon residents only) - £100, £50, £25.
    Entry Fee: Online - £4.50 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.  Postal - £4 for the first, £3 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Teignmouth Poetry.

 


Added
12.10.20

 

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: 31.1.21.
    Prize (in each category): £500.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter. You can submit up to 2 entries if they’re in different categories.
    Comp Page:
Cheshire Prize.

 


Added
1.12.20

 

SLQ Poetry Competition.  This regular international contest from Sentinel Literary Quarterly is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 31.1.21.
    Prizes: £250, £125, £75.  High Commendation (3) - £30.  Commendation (3) - £20.
    Entry Fee: £5 for one, £8 for two, £10 for three, £12 for four ... and so on
    Comp Page:
SLQ Poetry

 


Added
25.9.20

 

Elmbridge Literary Competition.  Strike up the band! The R C Sherriff Trust and Elmbridge Council have decided to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Albert Hall, so of course the theme of this year’s contest is Albert.  No it isn’t.  It’s ‘Music’. As well as the Adult category (19+), there are various age categories for youngsters.  In the 5-7 age category, stories are limited to 500 words while poems should be no longer than 20 lines.  A word limit of 1,000 applies to stories in the 8-11 and 11-13 categories, while in the 14-18 and 19+ categories it’s 1,500.  Poems in categories other than the 5-7 age group can be up to 30 lines.  The contest is open worldwide.
    Closing: 5.2.21.
    Prizes: Adults 19+ (in each category) - £250, £150, £100.   Children - various amounts in book tokens as shown in the contest T&Cs.  The winning entries in all age categories will be published in a chapbook by publishers Samson Low.
    Entry Fee: Adults - £5. Under 18s - free.  Maximum of one poem and one story per person.
    Comp Page:
Elmbridge Literary.

 


Added
1.12.20

 

Papatango New Writing Prize.  This annual playwriting contest from the Papatango Theatre Company is, for this year only, for plays that will work in an audio format (normally they would be for performance in theatres).  Performance time should be 25 to 50 minutes which, they say, roughly equates to 25 to 50 pages.  The link to the Submission Form has been camouflaged to fool the enemy, but I can reveal that it is in the Formatting section of the Entry Requirements page.
    Closing: 7.2.21.
    Prizes: Three winners will each receive £2,000.  The scrips will be produced as audio plays and published digitally by Nick Hern Books.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
Papatango

 


Added
1.12.20

 

Brotherton Poetry Prize.  This international contest from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre is for poets who have not yet had a full collection published.  To enter, you submit up to five poems with a combined line count of up to 200.  Winners and shortlisted poems will be published in an anthology.  One of the judges is up-and-coming poet Simon Armitage.
    Closing: 22.2.21.
    Prizes: 1st - £1,000 and the opportunity to develop your creative practice with the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.  Runners-up (4) - £200.  All shortlisted poets will receive £150 for travel expenses to attend the competition announcement.
    Entry Fee: £10 per five poems.
    Comp Page:
Brotherton Prize.

 

 

 

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
22.10.20

 

Acumen International Poetry Competition.  The literary journal Acumen, which is based in South Devon, is seeking entries of up to 50 lines for its latest competition.  There is no theme.  You can enter by email or post.
    Closing: 26.2.21 (6pm).
    Prizes : 1st - £1,000 plus a 5-year subscription to Acumen.  2nd - £400 and a 3-year sub.  3rd - £200 plus a 2-year sub.  Runners-up (6) - £25.  There is also a special prize of £100 for the best entry by a current subscriber.
    Entry Fee: £5 each, £20 for five.
    Comp Page:
Acumen Poetry.

 


Added
29.12.20

 

Slipstream Poets Open Poetry Competition.  Here we have a new contest from Slipstream Poets of West Sussex.  It has a line limit of 60 but no theme.  The judge is poet Wendy Klein.
    Closing: 28.2.21.
    Prizes: £200, £100, £50.  There is also £25 for the best West Sussex entry.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Slipstream Poets.

 


Added
5.1.21

 

P&P Poetry Competition.  There is no theme this time round for this regular contest from Poets & Players of Manchester.  Poets have up to 40 lines to play with.
    Closing: 1.3.21.
    Prize: £600, £200, £100.
    Entry Fee: £4 for one, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
Poets & Players

 


Added
1.8.20

 

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: 31.3.21.
    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 2021.
    Entry Fee: 14 euros, for the first, 8 euros thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Fish 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
2.12.20

 

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize.  Before you clutter up your mind with ideas for poems about caterpillars, let me just point out that the name of this annual contest is not intended to indicate the official subject, although if you wish to go that way, you are free to do so.  The only stipulations are that your poem must be suitable for children aged 7 to 11, and it must be written by someone aged 16 or over.  It can be any length.  The Caterpillar, incidentally, is a children’s magazine based in Southern Ireland.  The contest judge this year is Michael Morpurgo.
    Closing: 31.3.21.
    Prizes: 1st - 1,000 euros and publication in the mag.
    Entry Fee: 14 euros.
    Comp Page:
Catmag Poetry

 


Added
2.1.21

 

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: 1.4.21.
    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.

 


Added
13.12.20

 

Binstead Poetry Prize .  The annual South Downs Poetry Festival in conjunction with the Binstead Arts Festival is coming round again, and as usual it features a competition for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  This is open to all poets aged over 16.
    Closing: 6.4.21.
    Prizes: £300, £150, £50.  All being well, prizewinners will be invited to a prizegiving event in June in Binstead.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £4 thereafter.  If you are 16 to 30, the fee is £3 each.
    Comp Page:
Binstead Poetry.

 


Added
31.10.20

 

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 André Mangeot.
    Closing : 30.4.21.
    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.

 


Added
2.11.20

 

Ware Poets Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Ware Poets of Hertfordshire is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  There is a separate category for sonnets.
    Closing: 30.4.21.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £150.  Ware Sonnet Prize - £150.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Entry Form and Details (pdf):
Ware Poets 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

 


Added
23.8.20

 

Erewash Holiday Romance Competition.  This freebie from Erewash Writers in Derbyshire is for poems of up to 40 lines and stories of up to 500 words on the subject of your holiday romance (one you’ve had, one you’re still having, or one you’re hoping to have next time instead of the covid19 and 3-weeks in hospital you got this time.
    Closing: 27.5.21.
    Prize: £10 and publication on the website.
    Entry Fee: None - free to entry.
    Comp Page:
Erewash Romance

 


Added
2.11.20

 

Bridport Prize.  This 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 below) for a novel opening of between 5,000 and 8,000 words, plus a 300-word synopsis.  Writers from beyond the veil should note that the Bridport rules forbid posthumous entries.  Shame: the awards ceremony would be so much more interesting with a couple of ghosts in attendance.
    Closing: 31.5.21.
    Prizes: Short Stories, Poems (in each category) - £5,000, £1,000, £500, and ten @ £100.  Flash Fiction - £1,000, £500, £250, and three @ £100..   The Peggy Chapman Andrews First Novel Award: £1,000, £500. Runners-up (10) £100.  Winning entries will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fees: Poems - £10.  Short Stories - £12.  Novel - £20.  Flash Fiction - £9.
    Comp Page:
Bridport Prize.

 


Added
2.12.20

 

Yeovil Literary Prize.  This is the 20th of these annual international contests from Yeovil, the literary capital of the West Country where even the sheep appreciate poetry.  There are four categories: Short Story, Poetry, Novel and Unrestricted.  The stories can run to 2,000 words, while the poems should be no more than 40 lines.  Novels have a limit of 15,000 words for the opening chapters and synopsis.  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: 31.5.21.  Opens for entries 1.1.21
    Prizes: Short Story - £500, £200, £100.  Poetry - £500, £200, £100.  Novel - £1,000, £250, £100.  Writing Without Restrictions - £200, £100, £50.  In addition there is the Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award for someone 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 - £7.  Poetry - £7 each, £10 for two, £12 for three.  Novel - £12 each.  Writing Without Restrictions - £5.
    Comp Page:
Yeovil Lit Prize.

 


Added
5.12.20

 

Frogmore Poetry Prize 2021.  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 because it ran to 360 lines.  The line limit here is 40.
    Closing: 31.5.20.
    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.  All shortlisted poems will be published in The Frogmore Papers.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Comp Page:
Frogmore PP.

 
  

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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.
 


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