BBC Proms

The Poetry Society is very pleased to work with BBC Proms each year, advising on the running of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition, which is judged by Ian McMillan and Judith Palmer, and helping to programme a series of readers for the BBC Proms Extra Late events at the Royal Albert Hall, which are later broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

BBC Proms Poetry Competition

Each year, the BBC runs a free poetry competition encouraging aspiring poets to write a poem inspired by any piece of music in that year’s Proms season. Judged each year by poet and The Verb presenter Ian McMillan and Poetry Society Director Judith Palmer, plus an additional guest judge, which in 2019 was Malika Booker, the deadline for the competition is during the Proms season in August. The winners are announced in September at an event on BBC Radio 3

There are two age categories: ages 12-18 and 19 plus, and the winners get the chance to have their poems read out at a Proms Plus event in September with the judges. This will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and available as a Radio 3 Arts and Ideas download. Winners are also invited to come to that night’s Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Past winners, especially in the 12-18 years category, include many Poetry Society ‘alumni’ from our Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award or Young Poets Network. You can read the winning poems from last year’s competition on the sidebar of this page. 

BBC Proms Extra Lates

Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall
Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall. Taken by Andrew McMillan

Presented weekly during July-September during 2015 and 2016, the BBC Proms Extra Lates events each featured one ‘up-and-coming’ act in music and poetry. They took place in the Elgar Room of the Royal Albert Hall with a late-night, informal feel, and were hosted by Georgia Mann. These free events were very popular, and were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 each week.

In 2016, the poets who read were: Geraldine Clarkson, Kim Moore, Holly Corfield Carr, Amy Key, Mark Grist, Avaes Mohammad, Andrew McMillan and Chrissy Williams. They were recorded on BBC iPlayer.

In 2015, the poets were: Sarah Howe, Jon Stone, Megan Beech, William Letford, Inua Ellams, Liz Berry, Jack Underwood and Holly Hopkins.