Members’ Poems

The 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 most recent competition, on the theme of ‘The lesser loss’: Marie-Louise Eyres, Rosie Jackson, Nicky Kippax, Zannah Kearns, Rob Miles and Charles Penty. Judge Jenny Lewis said, “Choosing just six poems from the cornucopia that arrived on my doormat in a bulging jiffy bag was even harder than I thought it would be. I had to make rigorous, hairbreadth decisions, one being how successful the poet was in meeting the criteria of the ‘lesser loss’ as opposed to loss in general.”

Our thanks and commiserations to all those who sent in poems but weren’t selected this time. Please don’t be discouraged – we receive hundreds of entries and our judge is only able to pick six. Details of our latest competition are published below.

Look out for videos of our six winners reading their poems on the theme of ‘The lesser loss’, which we’ll make available shortly.

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 winner of the Hamish Canham Prize is Jo Burns.

Poetry News autumn 2021 competition: Surreal cities

John McCullough

Our autumn Members’ Poems competition, now open for entries, will be judged by John McCullough, who has chosen the theme ‘Surreal cities’. “Poems might explore surprising encounters in cities, strange urban sights and characters, a future metropolis, cities seen in dreams – I look forward to reading them!” he says. 

John’s most recent book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. His collections have been named Books of the Year in the Independent, Guardian and Observer. His poem ‘Flower of Sulphur’ is shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. He lives in Hove.

Submission details
  • The deadline for entries is 5 August 2021; poems must be unpublished as of our summer issue publication date of end September 2021.
  • Please send no more than two poems on the theme of ‘Surreal cities’ (any additional poems which will not be submitted to the judge).
  • Poems must be a maximum of forty lines, typed on A4, with your membership number, not name and address, at the foot. Entries that do not carry a membership number cannot be forwarded to the judge.
  • Please enter online via Submittable at, particularly as the post is likely to be disrupted during the coronavirus epidemic. You will need to create your own Submittable account but this is a straightforward process.  If you have difficulties, please email Mike Sims, Editor, at [email protected]
  • Winners appear in Poetry News and win books and entry into the Hamish Canham Prize.