National Poetry Competition Writing and Discussion Guides

Whether you’re starting on a new piece of writing or looking to punch up a draft, The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition writing resources can help inspire you to create an exciting new piece of work. The guides include discussion points and writing prompts, exploring more closely the poems written by previous winners and commended poets in the competition’s history.

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

To accompany the National Poetry Competition 2021 are the following new writing guides:

There is also an archive of writing guides from previous years of the competition:

To accompany previous competitions, The Poetry Society has collaborated with The Poetry School to create a series of discussion guides, which examine a selection of the winning poems from that year’s competition for solo consideration in use in writing or reading groups: select from a 2012 discussion guide, a 2013 discussion guide, a 2014 discussion guide and a 2015 discussion guide



The Poetry Society has accumulated a series of National Poetry Competition podcasts, featuring winners and judges discussing their work and the work of other winners.

The podcast collection includes:

Wayne Holloway-Smith (winner of the National Poetry Competition 2018) and Mona Arshi (one of the judges of the 2018 competition) speaking to The Poetry Society’s Oliver Fox about some of their favourite poems from the National Poetry Competition: listen here

Stephen Sexton (winner of the National Poetry Competition 2016) and Kirsten Irving (one of the commended poets from the 2018 competition) speaking to The Poetry Society’s Oliver Fox about poetry and video games, and reading from their video-game themed poetry publications including Stephen Sexton’s Forward Prize winning collection If All the World and Love Were Young (Penguin, 2019) and the anthologies Coin Opera and Coin Opera 2 (Sidekick, 2009 & 2013), co-edited by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone: listen here

A live recording of the National Poetry Competition 40th Anniversary Readings at Kings Place, London held on 20th March 2019 featuring, featuring Caleb Parkin, Geraldine Clarkson, Mary Jean Chan, Fran Lock, Liz Berry, Mark Pajak, Stephen Sexton, Sinéad Morrissey, Ian Duhig and Jo Shapcott. Supported by Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation: listen to part 1 here and listen to part 2 here

Eric Berlin (winner of the National Poetry Competition 2015) with Sarah Howe (one of the judges of the 2015 competition) and The Poetry Society’s Ed Doegar discussing Eric’s work, influences and the inspirations behind his winning entry in a podcast from Transatlantic Poetry: listen here

Paul Nemser (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: 

Linda France (winner of the National Poetry Competition 2013) discussing her winning entry, how to write for poetry competitions (or not) and giving advice to prospective entrants of this year’s competition.

Colette Bryce (winner of the National Poetry Competition 2003) reading her poem ‘The Full Indian Rope Trick’ at the Autumn 2013 Poetry Review launch: listen here