National Poetry Competition

National Poetry Competition 2021

The National Poetry Competition 2021 is now open for entries!

From l to r: Fiona Benson, David Constantine, Rachel Long (photo: Amaal Said)

The judges this year are Fiona Benson, David Constantine and Rachel Long, and they are looking forward to reading your submissions.

The Poetry Society are commissioning brand new writing resources from previous winners and judges of the competition to get you in the National Poetry Competition mood. These will be posted on The Poetry Society’s website throughout the duration of the competition – look out for mentions of them on social media and in e-bulletins.

Please familiarise yourself with the rules of entry before submitting your poems. If you have any questions about the entry process, check the FAQs page to see if the answer is there.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, please get in touch via the dedicated National Poetry Competition email address: [email protected]

During these unpredictable times, it is strongly encouraged that you submit your poems via the National Poetry Competition website. If you are unable to do so for whatever reason, you can send an entry by post using this form together with your poems and payment to the address on the form. Please do not include your name on the poems as all poems are judged anonymously.

Enter here and good luck!

National Poetry Competition 2020 Winners

The National Poetry Competition 2020 winners were announced at a live awards event on Zoom in 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

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.