Sarah Howe, Esther Morgan, David Wheatley
L-R – Sarah Howe, Esther Morgan, David Wheatley. All by Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society

Sarah Howe

Sarah Howe was born in Hong Kong in 1983. She won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2010. Her first collection, Loop of Jade, is published by Chatto & Windus, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and the TS Eliot Prize 2015. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, a journal of poetry and criticism. Her poems have appeared widely in British magazines including The Poetry Review, PN Review and Poetry London, in anthologies such as The Salt Book of Younger Poets and Dear World & Everyone In It, and on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She has performed her work at events across the country, from Ledbury Poetry Festival to the Royal Festival Hall. In 2015-16, she will be based at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard.

“Judging this year’s competition is a responsibility that fills me with enthusiasm, not least for the chance to challenge and refine my own notions of what makes a great poem tick. I’m looking forward to being surprised, delighted, moved and changed by the poetry we’ll meet on the way.” Sarah Howe

Esther Morgan

Esther Morgan was born in Kidderminster in 1970. Since completing an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, she has published three collections of poetry, all with Bloodaxe. Her first, Beyond Calling Distance (2001) won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her most recent book, Grace, was a PBS Recommendation and shortlisted for the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize. She taught creative writing at UEA where she also edited the contemporary poetry anthology Reactions. She was Historic Recordings Manager at The Poetry Archive for several years and in 2013 co-edited the spring edition of The Poetry Review with Moniza Alvi.

“I’m delighted and not a little daunted to be a judge for this year’s National Poetry Competition – I know all about the high hopes which are sent off with every competition entry! One thing’s for certain, some amazing poems are coming my way, including ones not even written yet – and for a lover of poetry that’s a very exciting prospect.” Esther Morgan

David Wheatley

David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970. His collections, published by The Gallery Press, are: Thirst (1997, Rooney Prize for Irish Literature), Misery Hill (2000), Mocker (2006) and A Nest on the Waves (2010). He won the Vincent Buckley Prize in 2008. He has edited James Clarence Mangan: Poems (Gallery, 2003) and Samuel Beckett’s Selected Poems 1930-1989 (Faber, 2009), and published Contemporary British Poetry with Palgrave in 2014. His poems appear in The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets and other anthologies. He teaches at the University of Aberdeen. He reviews for the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement and others.

“Entering a poetry competition is like entering the lottery and having the chance to design the winning ticket yourself. You are in charge. You may think you’re looking for us, the judges, but we are the ones who are looking for you and your poem. We’ve no idea what it looks like, and yet there’s every chance we’ll recognise it on sight.” David Wheatley

Past judges

2014: Roddy Lumsden, Glyn Maxwell, Zoë Skoulding
2013: Julia CopusMatthew SweeneyJane Yeh
2012: Vicki FeaverW.N. Herbert, Nick Laird
2011: Colette BryceJohn GlendayJackie Kay
2010: Sinéad MorrisseyDeryn Rees-JonesGeorge Szirtes
2009: Ruth PadelNeil RollinsonDaljit Nagra
2008: Brian Patten, Frieda Hughes, Jack Mapanje
2007: E.A. Markham, Michael Schmidt, Penelope Shuttle
2006: John Burnside, Lee Harwood, Alice Oswald
2005: Alison Brackenbury, Bernardine Evaristo, Mark Ford
2004: Ciaran Carson, Elaine Feinstein, Simon Smith, Denis MacShane MP (chair)
2003: Paul Farley, Medbh McGuckian, Grace Nichols, Debbie Taylor (chair)
2002: Simon Armitage, Suzi Feay, Selima Hill, Hugo Williams
2001: Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Michael DonaghyIan Duhig, Michele Roberts
2000: Lavinia GreenlawIan McMillan, Don Paterson, Germaine Greer (chair)
1999: John Agard, Robert Crawford, Ruth Padel, Michael Rosen (chair)
1998: Matthew Sweeney, David Dabydeen, Kathleen Jamie
1997: Roger McGoughAndrew MotionCarol Ann Duffy, Monizi Alvi
1996: Paul Durcan, Jo Shapcott, Paul Hyland
1995: Paul Muldoon, U.A. Fanthorpe, Andrew McAllister
1994: Fleur Adcock, Jackie Kay, Lemn Sissay, Susan Roberts (chair)
1993: Sean O’Brien, Helen Dunmore, Anthony Thwaite
1992: Maura Dooley, Simon Rae, Michael Longley
1991: Liz Lochhead, John Whitworth, David Dabydeen, John Heath-Stubbs
1990: Kit Wright, Grace Nichols, Simon Armitage
1989: Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Herbert Lomas
1988: Jonathan Barker, Edwin Morgan, George Szirtes
1987: Douglas Dunn, Edna Longley, Fred D’Aguiar
1986: Wendy Cope, John Fuller, Ken Smith
1985: Carol Rumens, Roy Fisher, Tom Paulin
1984: James Berry, George McBeth, Hugo Williams
1983: Vernon Scannell, Gillian Clarke, Kevin Crossley Holland
1982: Christopher Reid, Paul Muldoon, Frances Horovitz
1981: Roger McGough, Edwin Morgan, Peter Porter
1980: Patricia Beer, Douglas Dunn, George McBeth
1979: Brian Patten, Anne Stevenson, Craig Raine
1978: Ted Hughes, Fleur Adcock, Gavin Ewart