Members’ Poems

National Poetry Competition 40 wordcloudThe Members’ Poems competition sets Poetry Society Members the task of writing a poem or poems on a theme chosen by a leading poet.

Congratulations to the winners of our Winter 2018 competition on the theme of ‘The Abstract Space’, which was inspired by the work of W.S. Graham and judged by Rachael Boast. The winners are: Sarah Reeson, Sharon Phillips, Rob Miles, Lesley Saunders, David Clarke and Sue Johns – our warmest congratulations to them all.

All poems published in Poetry News are also eligible for the Hamish Canham Prize each year and between 2014 and 2018, the Anne Born Prize. The latest winners are: Duncan Chambers for his poem ‘Chess at Baden-Baden, 1925’ (Hamish Canham); and Mary Jean Chan (Anne Born).

Poetry News Spring 2018 competition: National Poetry Competition 40

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, we’ve created a wordcloud from 99 of the most frequently occuring words from the 40 winning poems (see above) – which we’d like you to take as inspiration for your entries into the Spring 2019 members’ poems competition. The wordcloud is also published at full-size in the Winter 2018 issue of Poetry News.

You might like to use our wordcloud as your word hoard – as the start of a poem that includes some of the words pictured above. Perhaps your poem will be directly inspired by some of the suggestive juxtapositions the wordcloud has generated: “fear year”, for example, or “Every slow day”.

Need more inspiration? Read winning poems from all four decades of the National Poetry Competition on The Poetry Society website. Let your imaginations rove!

Ian Duhig, twice a winner of the National Poetry Competition, will be our judge. Ian has also been shortlisted three times for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His latest collection is The Blind Roadmaker (Picador, 2016).

Submission details
  • The deadline for entries is Friday 15 February 2019; poems must be unpublished as of this date.
  • Please send no more than two poems on the theme of ‘NPC40’, each max. forty lines, typed on A4, with your membership number, not name and address, at the foot.
  • Post ‘NPC40’ poems to Poetry News, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX, OR enter online at
  • Winners appear in Poetry News and win books and entry into the Hamish Canham Prize. Selected poems are submitted for the Forward Prize.