Frequently asked questions

Can my poem be written in any language?

Poems must be written in English or in BSL (do contact if you have queries regarding any BSL entries). 

How do I submit my poems to The Poetry Review and Poetry News?

If you are submitting work to be considered for Poetry Review, you should send it to: The Poetry Review, 22 Betterton Street, London, WC2H 9BX. Your poems must be typed on one side of A4 paper and you must include an SAE to receive a reply.  Full submission guidelines are available here. Submissions to the magazine are not accepted via email.

Members of the Poetry Society have the opportunity to have their poems considered for publication in Poetry News; check the members’ poems webpage for the current theme and details of how to submit. Send ideas for articles to the Editor Mike Sims.

Can I get critical assessment of my work?

Critical assessment is available through the Poetry Society’s Poetry Prescription service or 1-to-1 advice with Poetry Surgeries at the Poetry Cafe in London and the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. If you are based in London we also suggest looking into courses at the Poetry School.

The Society of Authors website has a comprehensive FAQ page. If you are looking for details of copyright holders for specific poets, we recommend the WATCH database. The Legal Advice Centre, Queen Mary, University of London offers advice for writers, musicians, painters, performers, designers and sculptors.

Can you direct me to some good poetry magazines?

The Poetry Society produces The Poetry Review every quarter, for more information about this and our other publications, see our publications page. For comprehensive lists you might like to take a look at:

How do I get information on poetry publishers?

Please note that The Poetry Society is not a publishing house. However, there are several places you can go to for information:

How do I contact a poet?

The Poetry Society has a database of poets. We do not give out personal information, but are happy to forward on any correspondence if we have current details on file. Email us or send correspondence, with proper postage to forward, to: Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX.

Also check the Society of Authors database.

What competitions do you recommend?

Information about competitions the Poetry Society runs can be found on our competitions page.

Members can request an up-to-date list of competitions from the Poetry Society; otherwise, check the Poetry Library website for a comprehensive list.

For questions about poetry competitions you suspect to be of ill-repute, we suggest the Winning Writers site.

Where do I find out about grants & funding?

Regional Arts Council Boards have lots of advice. See also the Society of Authors.

How do I find an agent?

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (London: A & C Black) has a section on literary agents. Please note the Society of Authors comment on their website: “It is sometimes said that it can be harder to get an agent than a publisher… Very few agents take on academic, technical, professional or educational works, poetry, memoirs or short stories. Even fiction may not be attractive to an agent unless your first novel sold reasonably well and you can add the lure of enticing titles to come. Alas, agents are particularly hesitant about taking on authors writing in their retirement when the chances of building up a lasting full-time career are reduced…”

Can you tell me about workshops & courses?

There are several avenues you might try:

Is there anything available about special interest groups?

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (London: A & C Black) contains a section of societies, organisations and clubs. It lists, amongst others, The Browning Society and the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society.
See also the Alliance of Literary Societies website.

‘Vanity’ presses and publishing – what’s it all about?

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (London: A & C Black) has a section called ‘Vanity Publishing’.

How do I find out about places to perform?

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (London: A & C Black) – the Poetry Organisations section has a brief list of venues. See also your local listings, Time Out, Hot Tickets, etc. – by reading these regularly, you can get a good sense of the regular poetry performance venues. The Poetry Cafe has a long standing open mic night, Poetry Unplugged, every Tuesday.

We do not have anywhere on our website dedicated to a list of links to other organisations, publications or competitions. It may be possible, if your project is poetry-related, to include a link or mention in our regular e-bulletins, or over our social media accounts. Please email [email protected] with any information. Please note that we cannot guarantee inclusion.

Alternatively, if you would like to place a targeted advert or insert in The Poetry Review, please see our advertising rates.

Can you help me find a poem?

The Poetry Library may be able to help you.

What is the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award?

What does a judge look for in a winning poem?

What is an Arvon course?

What’s it like being on a residential writing course?

How can I learn from the judges?

Who has previously won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award?

Former Foyle Young Poet of the Year Winner and Game of Thrones Star Ellie Kendrick talks about what winning the Foyle competition meant to her and how to enter.

Who else has one the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award?

Can I submit if I’m not the book’s publisher?

Yes. Translators, original authors, distributors and publishers are all welcome to submit. We recommend that translators, authors and distributors check with publishers before submitting, in case they have already sent a copy, or are planning to.

Can I submit translations from a Eurasian language?

Yes. We accept translations from languages and countries that are geographically located between Europe and Asia, as long as the language is still currently being spoken.

Can I submit proofs?

If you are submitting a proof copy, it should be for a book that will be published before 30 June 2015. This is for the convenience of publishers who have review copies ready.

Can I submit photocopies of my book?

No. Please submit three copies of the original book or pamphlet, as published.

Can I submit if I am not a UK- or Ireland-based publisher?

Yes, as long as the original language is European and the book is translated into English by a translator who is a UK or Irish citizen or permanently resident in the UK or Ireland at the time of publication.

Do you accept anthologies of European translations?

Yes. Either anthologies from single languages, or from many European languages – as long as the other criteria are met, including a maximum number of translators of three.

Some of my book is written in English and some is translated – can I still submit it?

Yes, but bear in mind that the prize is a translation prize and will only be judged on the strength of the translated poems.

Can I submit new editions of books published before the competition dates?

We ask that you only submit new editions where substantial changes have been made – either new translators, altered translations, or substantially new selections of poems by the author. We do not accept reprints, or books that have been visually altered without the content changing.

Can I submit prose translations or individual poems?

No, but you may wish to visit the British Centre for Literary Translation website for details of other competitions where your work may be eligible for entry.

Do you accept books translated by more than one translator?

We accept books by multiple translators, as long as there are no more than three. The judges can, at their discretion, choose to split the prize in an instance like this. Please bear in mind that the skill of a translator is hard to judge without a substantial body of work to review.

Do you accept translations from Anglo-Saxon / Old English or Ancient Greek?

These are not eligible. Eligible languages are only those that are living European languages, those still being spoken by a number of native speakers.

What is a Poet Laureate?

A poet laureate is a poet appointed by a government or organisation, who may be asked to compose poems by that appointing body. There are lots of poet laureates all around the world, but in the rest of this page we’ll be referring to the UK’s Poet Laureate.

The post of Poet Laureate is awarded to a poet whose work is considered to be of national significance. Although the role of Poet Laureate doesn’t have a specific job description, and carries no formal requirements, the Poet Laureate often writes poems which engage with national public events. The Laureate also plays a role raising public awareness of poetry. The most recent Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has said of the post, “it’s good to have someone who’s prepared to say poetry is part of our national life” (Independent).

Who is the current Poet Laureate?

Simon Armitage was announced as Poet Laureate on 10 May 2019. See our Press Release page for announcements.

 

What responsibilities does the Poet Laureate have?

The Poet Laureateship has no formal job description. In the past, the Laureate was expected to pen poetry for royal events and national occasions and although this is no longer an official requirement, Poet Laureates often do write poems for such occasions. While Laureate, Tennyson wrote ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.

Carol Ann Duffy wrote poems to mark a wide variety of situations, including ‘Politics’ (2009) about the MPs’ expenses scandal, ‘Silver Lining’ (2010) about the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and ‘Long Walk’ for Prince Harry’s wedding in 2018.

Recent Poet Laureates have created new poetry initiatives as part of their role; for instance, Carol Ann Duffy set up the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry with her honorarium, and Andrew Motion co-founded the Poetry Archive.

Is the Poet Laureate paid?

The Poet Laureate traditionally receives an honorarium from HM The Queen. Carol Ann Duffy donated her annual honorarium to The Poetry Society to found a new award, The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, which was presented annually throughout her term as Laureate from 2009-2019.

The Poet Laureate’s current annual honorarium is circa £6,000.

Historically, the Poet Laureate received a gift of wine from the monarch. In 1790 Henry Pye asked if he could be paid a salary and the ‘butt of canary wine’ was discontinued until the 20th century.

Tell us about the sherry

By tradition, the Poet Laureate receives a barrel of wine, often referred to as the ‘butt of sack’ or the ‘butt of canary wine’ – now its modern equivalent, a barrel of sherry. The gift had been discontinued since 1790 but was reinstated in 1984 at the appointment of Ted Hughes.

Each of the subsequent Poet Laureates, Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy, also received a barrel of sherry and the same offer will be made to the incoming Laureate in 2019. This works out as 720 bottles, and delivery is usually spread out over the ten years of the Laureate’s tenure, an average of 72 bottles a year.

No longer the gift of the monarch, since 1984 the Laureate’s sherry has been a gift from the Sherry Producers of Spain as a goodwill gesture to celebrate the cultural and trading links between Britain and Spain. The Poet Laureates are invited to Jerez to select their sherry from a wide variety on offer, and usually design their own labels.

How long is the term of the Poet Laureate?

Until the death of Ted Hughes in 1998, the position of Poet Laureate was a lifetime appointment.

Andrew Motion (Poet Laureate 1999-2009) was the first Laureate to be appointed for a fixed ten-year term. Carol Ann Duffy also served a ten-year term (2009-2019). The next Laureate will serve from 2019-2029.

Who was the first Poet Laureate?

John Dryden was appointed Poet Laureate in 1668 by Charles II and there has been an unbroken line of Poet Laureates ever since.

However, a number of poets were appointed as Laureate before that. These include Geoffrey Chaucer, John Skelton, and  Ben Jonson. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) was given 10 shillings a year by King Henry I.

Do line spaces between stanzas count as part of the 40 line limit? What about titles, epigraphs and dedications?

The forty line limit applies only to the written lines of the poem, not the lines between stanzas. Titles, epigraphs and dedications are not counted as lines either.

How is the Poet Laureate appointed?

You can’t apply to be Poet Laureate. It is an honorary role awarded to a poet of national significance. The appointment is approved by HM The Queen acting on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government. A steering committee was appointed by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright to advise on the selection of the new Laureate to succeed Carol Ann Duffy in 2019. The steering committee included representatives from a range of literary and arts organisations, including The Poetry Society. A new Poet Laureate will be announced on 10 May 2019 (10pm).

Can I make changes after my poem has been submitted?

Changes cannot be made to poems after they have been submitted (see rule number 6). If you want to submit a more recent version of your poem please send it as a separate entry. Both versions will be seen by the judges.

Who has been Poet Laureate in the past?

1668: John Dryden
1688: Thomas Shadwell
1692: Nahum Tate
1715: Nicholas Rowe
1718: Reverend Laurence Eusden
1730: Colley Cibber
1757: William Whitehead
1785: Reverend Thomas Warton
1790: Henry James Pye
1813: Robert Southey
1843: William Wordsworth
1850: Alfred, Lord Tennyson
1896: Alfred Austin
1913: Robert Bridges
1930: John Masefield
1967: Cecil Day-Lewis
1972: Sir John Betjeman
1984: Ted Hughes
1999: Andrew Motion
2009: Carol Ann Duffy
2019: new appointment

I accidentally left my name or contact details on my entry, will my poem be disqualified?

This happens from time to time. Your name / contact details will be removed from the poem by administrative staff before the judges see the entries.

Are there different kinds of Poet Laureate?

Yes – there are lots of poet laureates across the UK who aren’t the royally appointed Laureate, including many themed or regional poet laureates and youth laureates in London, Birmingham, Warwickshire, the Wirral and more. And of course there are many poet laureates and similar roles in other countries across the world.

Here are just a few other laureates in the UK – do research whether your area or country has one!

Waterstones Children’s Laureate
Canal Laureate
Scottish Makar
National Poet of Wales

Are simultaneous submissions allowed?

You may submit your poem to other competitions or publications at the same time you submit it to the National Poetry Competition on the understanding that if you win our competition you will immediately withdraw it from elsewhere. However, to avoid complications, we would strongly recommend you do not do this. If your poem wins another competition or is published before our winners have been announced please let us know (refunds will not be made).

How will you know which poems are mine if I don’t write my name on them?

Poems are coded by administrative staff so that they can be judged as anonymous works and then married back to your entry form once the judges have made their decision.

Can I send the same poem that I entered in last year’s competition?

Yes

If my poem is a few more than 40 lines, will it be disqualified?

Yes. Poems longer than forty lines are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

If I send a poem written in a language other than English, and then an English translation, does the translation count as additional lines?

This competition is for poems written in English. Any submissions written in languages other than English will be disqualified. If a submission includes the same poem written in two languages, only the English version will be considered by the judges.

Can I use a pen name?

You may, although all entries are made anonymous before they are seen by the judges. When the winners are selected we will check how they wish to be referred to when their poems are published in The Poetry Review, in press releases and on the Poetry Society website.

Can I enter a revision of my first poem as a second entry?

Yes.

Must entries be unpublished?

Yes. Poems that have already been published are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

I accidentally submitted the wrong poem. Can I switch it?

The rules state that alterations cannot be made to poems once they have been submitted. This counts as an alteration. If you want the judges to consider another poem, please send it as a new entry.

Does having a poem on my own blog, Twitter or Facebook page count as website publication?

Yes.

Can you check you received my poem?

If you want confirmation of a postal entry please include an SAE with your poem and entry form, which we will post back to you. Online entries will be confirmed by email shortly after you submit. There is nothing more that Poetry Society staff can do; please do not telephone the office or email to ask if your entry has arrived unless you have not received automatic confirmation by email or your SAE (please allow a reasonable amount of time before chasing SAEs as entries are processed in batches).

Can you check that the poem I entered is the one I intended to enter?

The competition generally receives over ten thousand poems each year and staff cannot go through these to find a specific entrant’s work.

Since entering my poem to the National Poetry Competition my poem has won another competition / been published elsewhere. What should I do?

Congratulations! Please contact us to let us know (refunds cannot be made).

Reading the poems that have previously won or been commended in the competition, I notice a lack of established poetic forms (sonnets, villanelle, roundel etc.) represented – why is this?

Of the large number of poems that are entered into the competition, a very, very small fraction of them are written strictly in an established form. However, the competition welcomes all entries, whatever their structure, form or rhyme scheme.

When will the competition winners be announced?

Competition winners are usually announced in the spring. Please check back to the website once the competition has closed for further details / specific dates.

Some competitions sift the entries before they send them to the judges. Will the judges of the National Poetry Competition definitely see my poem?

Yes. Unlike many poetry competitions, we do not implement an elimination round. Each entry is seen by at least two of the judges.

How old do I have to be to enter?

You must be aged between 11-17 years old on the date of the deadline 31 July 2019.

If you are 11-12 your parent or guardian will need to give permission for you to enter. Without this permission we are not allowed to keep information about you, such as your contact details. This is because of data protection rules introduced in 2018. You can find the permission form on the Foyle Young Poets of the Year website.  

Teachers, librarians and youth leaders should not use the permission form, but should comply with their own organisation’s GDPR policy. If you have any questions please contact The Poetry Society on [email protected] or 020 7420 9880 and we will be happy to help.

 

I have already entered once, by post, paying £7. Does this mean I can enter again paying only £4?

You must enter your poems in one submission if you want to take advantage of the cheaper price for additional entries. You can enter more poems right up until the deadline, but the first one in each ‘batch’ will always cost £7. 

I sent my postal entry very close to the deadline. What if it doesn’t reach you in time?

Entries postmarked on the date of the deadline will be accepted.

Is the competition free to enter?

Yes, it is completely free to enter.

I am entering by post and plan to send a cheque. Can I pay in my own nation’s currency, or does it have to be in sterling?

Payments must be made in £ sterling. Entries accompanied by payment in a currency other than £ sterling will not be accepted. Please make out your cheque to ‘The Poetry Society’.

How do I submit poems online?

Simply register on foyleyoungpoets.org.uk

Can I pay with cash?

We do not accept payment in cash. Please do not send cash in the post. Cheques, credit/debit cards and postal orders are accepted. Cheques should be made payable to the Poetry Society. Entrants should write their name and phone number on the back of cheques.

Can I enter by email?

No, unfortunately we cannot accept any entries sent via email. If you would like to enter online, please use the online system on foyleyoungpoets.org.uk.

How do I progress through to the ‘Review and Pay’ stage of the online entry process?

Once you have submitted your first poem (click ‘Submit Poem’ at the bottom of the page – you may have to scroll down to see this) you will be taken to the checkout page where you will be prompted to provide your billing information. You also have the option to continue to submit poems (there is no limit on the number of poems a single entrant may submit).  If you decide not to submit another entry, you can click the blue ‘cancel’ button above the poem entry form to be taken back to the checkout.

A limited number of users using Internet Explorer have reported issues with the submission page. If you are able to submit your poems using an alternative browser (Google Chrome for example) please do so, otherwise, please contact us. Alternatively, you can download and print a postal entry form.

How do I enter by post?

Please send a completed entry form and your poem(s) to the following address: FYP Team, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London, WC2H 9BX.

Can I enter a poem after the 31 July 2019?

No. All online entries must be received by midnight BST on 31st July 2019. Late online entries will not be accepted under any circumstances. All postal entries must be post-dated on or before the 31 July 2019. Late postal entries will not be accepted under any circumstances.

I have already entered once, paying £7. Does this mean I can enter again paying only £4?

You must enter your poems in one transaction if you want to take advantage of the cheaper price for additional entries. However, you can always enter more poems, but the first one in each ‘batch’ will always cost £7.

Will you tell me that you have received my poem?

Unfortunately, due to the large number of entrants we are unable to respond individually to submissions. No acknowledgment of receipt can be made for postal entries unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included with the entry.

As a member entering online, how do I take advantage of the free entry (second poem)?

You must use this at the same time as you submit your first entry. Your second poem will be free, provided you are entering two poems. If you have already entered once at £7 and completed the transaction, your next entry will cost £7 – however, you can still get your second poem free if you enter two the second time around.

Can you enter a poem written by more than one author?

No.

I am entering online. Do I need an entry form / to post you anything?

As you go through the online entry process the website will ask you for all of the information we will need in the event that your poem wins (name, address, telephone number etc.). There is no need to submit a postal entry form at the same time. Please do not enter the same poems online and by post, or send postal copies of entries made online – this is unnecessary and leads to confusion.

Is there a line limit?

No, your poem(s) can be of any length.

 

Why does the text of my poem appear so much smaller on the PDF preview?

If your poem contains a line with no breaks (no spaces at all), this will affect how it appears in the preview: the system will shrink it to fit on an A4 page. This can be rectified by inserting a space in the line. If your poem has a difficult format you are struggling to represent in the online form, it might be better to enter by post. Print out an entry form and follow the instructions on the form.

Can the poem be on any theme?

Yes, your poem(s) can be on any theme.

Why aren’t there any identifying marks on the poem preview?

These will be added later. A simple code is added to the poem so that the winner can be identified.

Can I make changes after my poem has been submitted?

No, you cannot make changes to your poem once it has been submitted. If you have any urgent queries about your poem, then please contact the FYP team on [email protected].

Can I enter more than one poem?

Yes, enter as many poems as you like! But do remember that one polished, well-edited poem may have a better chance of standing out than ten poems you wrote on the day of the deadline. The judges are looking for quality not quantity.

Can I enter a poem that has been published elsewhere?

No, unfortunately we cannot accept any poems that have been published anywhere in the world before. Any previously published poems will be disqualified.

Does having a poem on my own blog, Twitter or Facebook page count as website publication?

Yes.

Does having a poem broadcast on any regional, national, online TV station or via any radio platform) count as website publication?

Yes.

Can I send a poem I’ve entered before?

Yes, but remember it cannot be published, and must be your own work.

Since entering my poem to the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award my poem has won another competition / been published elsewhere. What should I do?

Congratulations! Please contact us to let us know.

When will the competition winners be announced?

Competition winners are usually announced in October, and are contacted in early September. If you have not heard from us before October then unfortunately you have not been chosen as a winner.

How are the poems judged?

Our two poet judges sift the poems to an agreed top 15 poems and 85 commended poems. All entries are judged anonymously. The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into concerning this decision.

 

What is a recommendation?

Recommendations help bring work to the judges’ attention and play a vital role in helping the judges gauge the impact the work has had. Note: recommendations are not votes.

You can make a recommendation for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry if you are a Poetry Society or Poetry Book Society member. The Award is currently closed for recommendations. 

What if more than one poet has collaborated on a project?

If poets who have worked together to produce eligible work win the prize, the prize money will be split equally between them.

What if a poet has collaborated with an artist?

The Ted Hughes Award is awarded to poets only.

What if something was published/presented/performed prior to 2018?

Generally, this work would not be eligible. However, there may be some room for interpretation of the phrase “first appeared in the public domain” or in terms of the judges’ interpretation of what constitutes “new work”. For example, a performance may preview in 2017, but undergo considerable changes before being toured in 2018; or a monument may be physically erected in 2017, though officially unveiled in 2018. If in doubt, please do email us to check.

What if an element or elements of the work, though not the work in its entirety has/have existed in the public domain prior to 2018?

The judges’ and award administrators’ discretion will be applied when deciding what constitutes eligible “new work in poetry”.

What about new translations of poetry where the original language text was published before 2018?

If the translation was new in 2018, then yes, this is eligible.

Is work that first appeared outside the UK eligible?

Yes. (Remember: the poet must be resident in the UK or have UK Nationality.)

Can you define “new work in poetry”?

Broadly speaking, this is a new poem, poetry collection or poetical work that first appeared in the public domain in 2017. “Work” may refer to (but is not limited to) poetry collections (for adults or children), individual published poems, radio poems, verse translations, verse dramas, verse novels, libretti, film poems or poetry in public art. The interpretation of this phrase is ultimately left to the judges and administrators of the award in any given year.

The competition aims to reward poets working not only with poetry on the page, but in other mediums too. Unlike other awards, the work does not have to have been published on the page (in a collection, magazine or pamphlet) but may have appeared in the public domain through another medium, be that through public performance, displayed as public art, or as a film or music recording (these criteria are not exhaustive, the award is flexible in its scope and boundaries). A poet who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry (as decided by the judges) will win the award.

When will the shortlist be announced?

The shortlist for the 2017 competition will be announced in March 2019. 

When will the winner be announced?

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of March 2019, alongside the winners of the National Poetry Competition.

Why aren’t forms available all year round?

Members may make only one recommendation per year, meaning that they must choose the work they hold in highest regard. By releasing recommendation forms in the September of each year, we hope to encourage real consideration of eligible work, before members submit their form.

When is the closing date for recommendations?

The closing date for the 2018 competition is 9th January 2019. Forms received after this date but postmarked before it may be accepted. Completed forms can also be emailed to us.

Do you have some general guidelines towards getting published?

It is important to know that you are not alone. Thousands of people write poetry and a high percentage of those people want to be published. Although not completely unheard of, it is very rare for a poet to be published who has not already had single poems published in accredited poetry magazines or some success in reputable competitions.

It is equally important to know that publishing companies devote a tiny percentage of their total budget to poetry and small presses receive more poetry than they know what to do with. Bookshops, in turn, do not stock vast numbers of poetry books from mainstream publishers and very, very few from small presses. The reason for this is that sales of poetry books, Heaney apart, are tiny.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. It is not always easy for you or your friends and family to be objective about your writing. So it is very important that as a writer of poetry you are also a reader of poetry. You can always request specific books from your local library. Many people find it useful to attend workshops.

Should you want more in-depth information, reading lists, workshop contacts, etc. then you may want to join the Poetry Society.

How do I get my poems published?

Step one is to submit poems to magazines and enter reputable poetry competitions. Step two, after you have had poems accepted in magazines, is to contact small presses and poetry publishers.

The best source of information about small presses is The Poetry Library’s listings page. Two writers’ guides which give lists of publishers and magazines as well as advice about preparing for publication are:

  • The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (London: A & C Black, published annually).
  • The Writer’s Handbook (London: Macmillan, published annually).

There are also numerous books on the subject such as How to Publish Your Poetry by Peter Finch and Writing Poetry by John Whitworth.