Members’ Poems

Poetry News 2016The Members’ Poems competition sets Poetry Society Members the task of writing a poem or poems on a theme chosen by a leading poet.

Congratulations to the winners of our Autumn 2018 competition on the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Change’, judged by Meryl Pugh, are: Sarah Barnsley, Carl Griffin, Rachel Piercey, Lesley Saunders, K.V. Skene and Steve Xerri  – our warmest congratulations to them all.

All poems published in Poetry News are also eligible for the Hamish Canham Prize each year and between 2014 and 2018, the Anne Born Prize . The latest winners are: Duncan Chambers for his poem ‘Chess at Baden-Baden, 1925’ (Hamish Canham); and Mary Jean Chan (Anne Born).

Poetry News Winter 2018 competition: ‘The Abstract Space’

‘The Abstract Space’, inspired by W.S. Graham, whose centenary is commemorated this year, is the theme of the latest Poetry News members’ poems competition. Our judge is Rachael Boast, and the six poems she selects will appear in the Winter issue of Poetry News, published in December.

Rachel writes:

“In 2018, as the twenty-first century comes of age, W.S. Graham’s work seems increasingly relevant, perhaps even prescient. This solitary pioneer at the edge of language, as he’s often been described, was fascinated by the abstract space of the poem, where the author might directly address his unknown reader, and where the reader might get a glimpse of “the other side of language”. By creating that space (which I’ll call here “Malcolm Mooney’s Land”) and an idiom as syntactically craggy as a cliff face, Graham attempted to highlight the slipperiness of language, the perils of communication.

“My guidelines for this competition are simple: read Graham’s work. Stay in Malcolm Mooney’s Land for as long as possible. Do not answer the telephone.”

Our judge: Rachael Boast

Rachael Boast won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for Sidereal (Picador, 2011). Void Studies (Picador, 2016) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. She is co-editor, with Andy Ching and Nathan Hamilton, of The Caught Habits of Language: An Entertainment for W.S. Graham for Him Having Reached One Hundred (Donut Press, 2018).

How to enter

  • Deadline: Monday 5 November 2018; entries must be unpublished as of this date.
  • Send no more than two poems, each max. 40 lines, typed on A4, with your membership number, not name and address, at the foot of each.
  • It’s easiest to enter online at:
  • Enter by post: ‘The Abstract Space’, Poetry News, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX
  • Winners are notified within 14 days of the competition deadline. Winners’ poems appear in Poetry News and they win books and entry into the Hamish Canham Prize. Selected poems are also submitted for the Forward Prize.
  • Only paid-up members of The Poetry Society can enter this competition.