Whether you’re starting on a new piece of writing or looking to punch up a draft, each year we commission new writing resources as part of the National Poetry Competition. These include discussion points and discussion prompts, podcasts with top poets exploring what makes previous winning poems work so well, and more.

New for 2020:

We’ve published a new writing resource on nature writing from former National Poetry Competition judge and commended poet Pascale Petit, looking at ways into nature writing via two poems from the National Poetry Competition archives: ‘The Opened Field’ by Dom Bury, and ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’ by Linda France. Take a look here!

Lifting a poem from the page: writing tips from Wayne Holloway-Smith & Mona Arshi

We welcomed 2018 winner Wayne Holloway-Smith and 2019 judge Mona Arshi to our podcast, where they spoke to The Poetry Society’s Oliver Fox about some of their favourite poems from the National Poetry Competition, what lifts those poems from the page, and shared their top writing tips. Listen below, or by searching for ‘The Poetry Society’ on your podcast app of choice.

Writing Prompts

We asked two previous prize winners, Caleb Parkin and Mary Jean Chan, to devise writing prompts and discussion points based on winning poems from the National Poetry Competition’s history, which you can use to launch into your own entry – or just as an aid for your writing!

You can find Mary Jean Chan’s resource on Stephen Sexton’s ‘The Curfew’ and Jo Shapcott’s ‘Phrase Book’ here.

Caleb Parkin’s resource is on Fran Lock’s ‘Epistle from Inside the Sharknado’, and Katie Griffiths’s ‘Do not indulge indigo’, and you can download it through this link.


Discussion points

Devised with the help of the Poetry School to inspire conversation about the winning poems in your writing or reading group:


Eric Berlin, winner of the National Poetry Competition 2015 for his poem Night Errand, discusses his work, influences and the inspirations behind his winning entry in this podcast from Transatlantic Poetry. In conversation with Eric Berlin are NPC2015 judge Sarah Howe and The Poetry Society’s Edward Doegar:


Paul Nemser was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2014 for his poem, After the Calm. Listen to his prize-winning poem and his thoughts on poetry competitions and writing in general in his Poetry Society podcast: 

The 2013 National Poetry Competition winner Linda France discusses her winning entry, how to write for poetry competitions (or not) and gives advice to prospective entrants of this year’s competition. You can listen to the whole thing below, or jump to: Linda’s compilation of her winning entry (1:30); (not) writing poems for competitions (4:27); or her advice for prospective entrants (4:38).