National Poetry Competition

2020 competition artwork by Arna Miller

The National Poetry Competition 2020 winners have now been announced at a live awards event on Zoom on 25 March 2021.

The judges for the National Poetry Competition 2020 were Neil Astley, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Jonathan Edwards.

Winner: Marvin Thompson for ‘The Fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22)’
Read an interview with Marvin talking about his winning poem
Listen to an audio recording of Marvin’s poem read in Welsh by Grug Muse

2nd place: Iain Twiddy for ‘Fence’

3rd place: Jack Nicholls for ‘Mum with Sword’

Commended poets: Luke Allan for ‘Something to Show for It’, Marie Baleo for ‘Peregrines’, Daniel Bennett for ‘Clickbait’, Susannah Hart for ‘Song of my auntie’, Jennifer Hyde for ‘Lifesaving’, Vanessa Lampert for ‘Sand’, Mark Pajak for ‘Trick’

Longlisted poets: Patrick Amon, Charis Hannah Anderson, Robert Archer, Charlotte Baldwin, John Bank, Molly Bashaw, Gregory Batista, Heidi Beck, Angela Beese, Peter Bennet, Trish Bennett, Mara Bergman, Kathryn Bevis, Julian Bishop, Leonardo Boix, Annys Brady, Chris Bridge, David Briggs, Carole Bromley, Dean Browne, Chris Burke, Kizzia Burton, Joe Caldwell, Genevieve Carver, Maya Caspari, Suzanne Cleary, Audrey Colasanti, Michaela Coplen, Luigi Coppola, Bella Cox, Katharine Craik, Petra Cramsie, Jane Craven, Pamela Crowe, Leon Cych, Jenny Danes, Kathy D’Arcy, Claudia Daventry, Raluca David, Armen Davoudian, Darren Deeks, Elaine Desmond, Umit Dhuga, Neil Douglas, Cath Drake, Aimua Eghobamien, Charles Elder, Tim Ellis, Maia Elsner, Malene Engelund, Tyler Erlendson, Ken Evans, Richard Evans, Marie-Louise Eyres, Mark Farley, Laura Foley, Duncan Forbes, John Freeman, Pete Green, Josephine Haslam, Eoin Hegarty, Jane Henderson, Maeve Henry, Najma Heybe, David Holper, Tamsin Hopkins, Christopher Horton, Justin Hunt, Amaan Hyder, Yasmin Inkersole, Oli Isaac, Maria Isakova-Bennett, Asmaa Jama, Christopher James, Emma Jeremy, Phil Jones, Austin Keane, Lisa Kelly, Dustin King, Mukahang Limbu, Michelle Lovric, Philip Lyons, Frances Malaney, Arji Manuelpillai, Barbara Marsh, Roy Marshall, Jenny Martin, Robert Maslen, Lucy Maxwell Scott, Carling McManus, Elizabeth McSkeane, Jo Morris Dixon, Elisabeth Murawski, Rebecca O’Connor, Judy O’Kane, Fran O’Leary, Imogen O’Rorke, John Osborne, Elizabeth Oxley, Natasha Parker, I. Patterson, Kathleen Payne, Jane Pearn, Charles Penty, Louise Peterkin, Bethan Phillips, Sam Phipps, Josie Poole-Jones, Maya Popa, Neethu Prasanna, Amanda Rackstraw, Judith Rawnsley, Timothy Ree, Paul Richards, Belinda Rimmer, Kylie Robinson, Jessica Rogan, Stevie Ronnie, John Saddler, Jacqueline Saphra, Lesley Saunders, Sam Schieren, Deirdre Shanahan, Nicola Shilcock, Robert Shooter, Emma Simon, Tanya Singh, William Skelton, Di Slaney, Laurie Smith, Sid Smith, William Stephenson, Lee Stockdale, John Strachan, Melissa Studdard, Ellora Sutton, Victor Tapner, Laura Theis, Michael W.Thomas, Philip Tomkins, Harriet Torr, Antonis Tsonis, Jess Tucker Boyd, Ben Verinder, Amy Wack, Rosemary Wagner, Polly Walshe, Christine Webb, Natalie Whittaker, Gwen Williams, Merrie Joy Williams, Enda Wyley


Thanks to all who entered the 2020 competition. The 2021 competition will open in May and close on 31 October 2021.

If you have any queries about the competition, please email [email protected]

Judges’ Q & As

NPC judges 2020: (l-r) Neil Astley, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Jonathan Edwards

Read our judges’ Q&As with Neil Astley, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Jonathan Edwards – find out their sage advice for getting past a blank page, editing tips, and more.

Then and Now Reading Series

To mark the 2020 National Poetry Competition’s final week, The Poetry Society released a series of video readings from previous competition winners featuring the poet reading their winning poem from the past and a more recent poem.

The poets to feature in this series are Tom Weir, Momtaza Mehri, Carmen Bugan, Philip Gross and Jane Draycott and you can watch them on The Poetry Society’s InstagramTV or Vimeo accounts.

National Poetry Competition Writing Guides

From L to R: Eric Berlin, Pascale Petit, Matthew Caley, Ella Frears

Still looking for inspiration to create competition winning poems? – our 2020 Writing Guides are here to help!

Running alongside the 2020 National Poetry Competition, The Poetry Society has commissioned a series of writing guides devised by previous National Poetry Competition winners.

You can select from a guide by Pascale Petit, focusing on nature writing, a guide by Eric Berlin looking at poems where the speakers’ perspectives turn on their heel, a guide by Ella Frears on poems that explore the unknowable and unexpressable, and a guide by Matthew Caley on poems that use lightness to great effect.

Jane Yeh

Now available! – a special National Poetry Day writing guide by Jane Yeh on memory.

The 2019 National Poetry Competition

2019 Winners

Content Warning: Some of the winning poems engage with issues that some readers may find disturbing. These include child abuse in ‘Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy’, domestic abuse and neglect in ‘Granddaughter Moves In’ and self harm in ‘Reset’. ​Reader discretion is advised. If you are affected by any of the issues raised in these poems and would like to talk to someone, then please do contact the Samaritans on 116 123, or email on [email protected]

First prize: Susannah Hart for ‘Reading the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy’.
Second prize: Ann Pelletier-Topping for ‘Granddaughter Moves In’
Third prize: Natalie Linh Bolderston for ‘Middle Name with Diacritics’.

Seven commendations: Joe Dunthorne for ‘Due to a series of ill judgements on my part’; Charlotte Knight for ‘MOONDADDY’; Cheryl Moskowitz for ‘Hotel Grief’; Mark Pajak for ‘Reset’, Louisa Adjoa Parker for ‘Kindness’, Rosie Shepperd for ‘Letter from Kermanshah’, and Gerald Smith for ‘Where Dedushka Comes From’.

Click the above links to read all of our winning poems – and view filmed readings from the top ten.

We’ve also got a special edition of Behind the Poem, where we interview all ten winners – right here!

Winning poems are published on The Poetry Society website, and the top three in the spring 2020 issue of The Poetry Review.

2019 Judges

Mona Arshi, Helen Mort, Maurice Riordan.

The Longlist

The following poets were longlisted for their entries in 2019:

A.C.H. Smith, Abigail Cook, Alan Michael Parker, Alison Porter, Amanda Rackstraw, Andrew George, Angela France, Angela Martin, Ann Williams, Anna Piccone, Ashish Kumar, Barry Wilson, Basil du Toit, Bridget Frost, Cathryn Turhan, Charlotte Evans, Chris Greenlahgh, Christopher Twigg, Claudia Daventry, Cro Page, Dagmar Lasić, David Cooper, David Punter, Diana Jo Howlett, Divya Mehrish, Elaine Beckett, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Elizabeth Postema, Emily Critchley, Emma Filtness, Emma Lord, Estelle Price, Fawzia Muradali Kane, Felicity Sheehy, Gabriella Sharp, Gbenga Adesina, Graziella Pruiti, Harris Brine, Hayden Downey, Helen Brown, I. Patterson, Ian Seed, Jack Parlett, James Conor Patterson, Jane Lovell, Janet Smith, Jeri Onitskansky, Jemima Longcake, Jennie Howitt, Jo Bell, Jo Dixon, John Challis, John Tinneny, Joseph Page, Kate Moore, Katherine Hahn Falk, Katie Brunero, Keith Wilson, Kerry Priest, Kizziah Burton, Krystelle Bamford, Laura Scott, Lauren B Garland, Lavinia Singer, Lawrence Pumfrey, Lianne O’Hara, Linda France, Lisa Kiew, Lois P Jones, Lorraine Carey, Luke Allan, Lynda Plater, Mara Vodinelic, Maria Isakova-Bennett, Marie-Louise Eyres, Mark Fiddes, Mary-Jane Holmes, Max Goodchild, Michael Caines, Michael Dooley, Michael Hutchinson, Michael Swan, Michelle Lovric, Mairghread Mclundie, Naima Rashid, Nicola Warwick, Paul Jeffcutt, Phoebe Stuckes, Polly Atkin, Polly Walshe, Rebecca Foust, Rebecca O’Connor, Rebecca Varley Winter, Richard Begbie, Rob Miles, Robert Stein, Robin Houghton, Roger Phillip Dennis, Roisin Tierney, Ros Cogan, Rowena Warwick, Saiqa Khushnood, Sara Nesbitt Gibbons, Sarala Estruch, Sharon Black, Shereen Leanne, Simon Royall, Soul Patel, Steve Voake, Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal, Suzanne Batty, Thom Avery, Tim Saward, Tim Scott, Tobias Wray, Victoria Walvis, Virginia Griem, Wendy Pratt, Yvonne Reddick.

National Poetry Competition
The Poetry Society
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London WC2H 9BX
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 020 7420 9886