FAQ

If you have a question about the National Poetry Competition, check this list of Frequently Asked Questions. If your query is not answered, please contact us and we will do our best to answer your question.

Poems

Do line spaces between stanzas count as part of the 40 line limit? What about titles, epigraphs and dedications?

The forty line limit applies only to the written lines of the poem, not the lines between stanzas. Titles, epigraphs and dedications are not counted as lines either.

Can I make changes after my poem has been submitted?

Changes cannot be made to poems after they have been submitted (see rule number 6). If you want to submit a more recent version of your poem please send it as a separate entry. Both versions will be seen by the judges.

I accidentally left my name or contact details on my entry, will my poem be disqualified?

This happens from time to time. Your name / contact details will be removed from the poem by administrative staff before the judges see the entries.

Are simultaneous submissions allowed?

You may submit your poem to other competitions or publications at the same time you submit it to the National Poetry Competition on the understanding that if you win our competition you will immediately withdraw it from elsewhere. However, to avoid complications, we would strongly recommend you do not do this. If your poem wins another competition or is published before our winners have been announced please let us know (refunds will not be made).

How will you know which poems are mine if I don’t write my name on them?

Poems are coded by administrative staff so that they can be judged as anonymous works and then married back to your entry form once the judges have made their decision.

If my poem is a few more than 40 lines, will it be disqualified?

Yes. Poems longer than forty lines are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

Can I use a pen name?

You may, although all entries are made anonymous before they are seen by the judges. When the winners are selected we will check how they wish to be referred to when their poems are published in The Poetry Review, in press releases and on the Poetry Society website.

Must entries be unpublished?

Yes. Poems that have already been published are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

Does having a poem on my own blog, Twitter or Facebook page count as website publication?

Yes.

Can I send the same poem that I entered in last year’s competition?

Yes

Can I enter a revision of my first poem as a second entry?

Yes.

I accidentally submitted the wrong poem. Can I switch it?

The rules state that alterations cannot be made to poems once they have been submitted. This counts as an alteration. If you want the judges to consider another poem, please send it as a new entry.

Can you check you received my poem?

If you want confirmation of a postal entry please include an SAE with your poem and entry form, which we will post back to you. Online entries will be confirmed by email shortly after you submit. There is nothing more that Poetry Society staff can do; please do not telephone the office or email to ask if your entry has arrived unless you have not received automatic confirmation by email or your SAE (please allow a reasonable amount of time before chasing SAEs as entries are processed in batches).

Can you check that the poem I entered is the one I intended to enter?

The competition generally receives over ten thousand poems each year and staff cannot go through these to find a specific entrant’s work.

Since entering my poem to the National Poetry Competition my poem has won another competition / been published elsewhere. What should I do?

Congratulations! Please contact us to let us know (refunds cannot be made).

Reading the poems that have previously won or been commended in the competition, I notice a lack of established poetic forms (sonnets, villanelle, roundel etc.) represented – why is this?

Of the large number of poems that are entered into the competition, a very, very small fraction of them are written strictly in an established form. However, the competition welcomes all entries, whatever their structure, form or rhyme scheme.

Judging

When will the competition winners be announced?

Competition winners are usually announced in the spring. Please check back to the website once the competition has closed for further details / specific dates.

Some competitions sift the entries before they send them to the judges. Will the judges of the National Poetry Competition definitely see my poem?

Yes. Unlike many poetry competitions, we do not implement an elimination round. Each entry is seen by at least two of the judges.

Entering online

How do I progress through to the ‘Review and Pay’ stage of the online entry process?

Once you have submitted your first poem (click ‘Submit Poem’ at the bottom of the page – you may have to scroll down to see this) you will be taken to the checkout page where you will be prompted to provide your billing information. You also have the option to continue to submit poems (there is no limit on the number of poems a single entrant may submit).  If you decide not to submit another entry, you can click the blue ‘cancel’ button above the poem entry form to be taken back to the checkout.

A limited number of users using Internet Explorer have reported issues with the submission page. If you are able to submit your poems using an alternative browser (Google Chrome for example) please do so, otherwise, please contact us. Alternatively, you can download and print a postal entry form.

I have already entered once, paying £6.50. Does this mean I can enter again paying only £3.50?

You must enter your poems in one transaction if you want to take advantage of the cheaper price for additional entries. However, you can always enter more poems, but the first one in each ‘batch’ will always cost £6.50.

As a member entering online, how do I take advantage of the free entry (second poem)?

You must use this at the same time as you submit your first entry. Your second poem will be free, provided you are entering two poems. If you have already entered once at £6.50 and completed the transaction, your next entry will cost £6.50 – however, you can still get your second poem free if you enter two the second time around.

I am entering online. Do I need an entry form / to post you anything?

As you go through the online entry process the website will ask you for all of the information we will need in the event that your poem wins (name, address, telephone number etc.). There is no need to submit a postal entry form at the same time. Please do not enter the same poems online and by post, or send postal copies of entries made online – this is unnecessary and leads to confusion.

Why does the text of my poem appear so much smaller on the PDF preview?

If your poem contains a line with no breaks (no spaces at all), this will affect how it appears in the preview: the system will shrink it to fit on an A4 page. This can be rectified by inserting a space in the line. If your poem has a difficult format you are struggling to represent in the online form, it might be better to enter by post. Print out an entry form and follow the instructions on the form.

Why aren’t there any identifying marks on the poem preview?

These will be added later. A simple code is added to the poem so that the winner can be identified.

Entering by post

I have already entered once, by post, paying £6.50. Does this mean I can enter again paying only £3.50?

You must enter your poems in one submission if you want to take advantage of the cheaper price for additional entries. You can enter more poems right up until the deadline, but the first one in each ‘batch’ will always cost £6.50. 

I sent my postal entry very close to the deadline. What if it doesn’t reach you in time?

Entries postmarked on the date of the deadline will be accepted.

I am entering by post and plan to send a cheque. Can I pay in my own nation’s currency, or does it have to be in sterling?

Payments must be made in £ sterling. Entries accompanied by payment in a currency other than £ sterling will not be accepted. Please make out your cheque to ‘The Poetry Society’.

Can I pay with cash?

We do not accept payment in cash. Please do not send cash in the post. Cheques, credit/debit cards and postal orders are accepted. Cheques should be made payable to the Poetry Society. Entrants should write their name and phone number on the back of cheques.