Stiff Competition - the novel

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Page Title: Poetry Competitions

Current UK Poetry Competitions

Stiff Competition - the novel

My Novel


 
 

Despite my success at getting my poetry published (see Verse page), I’ve never won a poetry competition, but I did once win a cash prize for a short story, and then of course I won the Peter Pook Humorous Novel Contest with Stiff Competition, a novel that had previously been rejected by a top publisher for being too funny (see Comps Novel).  I therefore speak from experience when I say that winning small competitions doesn’t lead to overnight fame.  But having a few such successes to boast about does you no harm when approaching publishers, so if your dream is to get a book of poetry published, this could be the place to begin.  Or maybe you just want to win some prize money.  Note that the judges of poetry competitions seldom have the same tastes as editors and publishers, so in order to get your eye in you need to study poetry competition winners rather than just published poems.

     Below is a list of the most interesting UK poetry competitions I’ve seen recently (entry is not necessarily limited to UK residents).  I’ve done my best to vet them and eliminate the dodgy ones, but I can offer no guarantees.

     Bear in mind that poetry comps with smaller prizes attract fewer entries and are therefore easier to win. 

 
 

3

UK Poetry Competitions (currently (20)

 


Updated
 16.2.21

 

Writers’ Forum Poetry Competition.  This monthly contest from the glossy magazine Writers’ Forum is for poems of up to 40 lines on any thme.
    Closing: Monthly.  Entries arriving too late for one month automatically go forward to the next.
    Prize: £100 and a Chambers dictionary.
    Entry Fee: £7 (includes a short critique).
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Updated
11.10.17

 

Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize.  Entries for this open contest from Wales are invited from beginners and established poets. Submit 15 to 25 poems of up to 50 lines each.
    Closing: Annually - 31 March.
    Prizes (4): A publishing contract plus 30 copies of the pamphlet.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 29.6.17

 

Hour of Writes Competition.  To enter this new weekly peer-reviewed contest from Manchester you submit a piece of writing of any type you choose running to no more than 2,000 words. There is a different theme every week.
    Closing : 11pm every Friday.
    Prize: £50 (usually the minimum, they say; prize increases if more entries are received).
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

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Added
1.7.22

 

Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition.  A welcome return for this annual contest from Ledbury in Wales.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines.  The judge this year is prizewinning poet Joelle Taylor (T.S Eliot Prize 2022).
    Closing: 24.8.22.
    Prize:  £1,000 plus a Arvon poetry course (residential or online).
    Entry Fees: £6.
    Comp Page:
Ledbury Poetry

 


Added
2.4.22

 

Buzzwords Poetry Competition.  Here’s one from the Buzzwords poetry group of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.  It is for poems of up to 70 lines.
    Closing: 27.8.22.
    Prizes: Open - £600, £300, 5 x £50.  Gloucestershire Prize (for Gloucestershire residents only) - £200.
    Entry Fee: Postal - £4 each, £10 for three.  Online - £4.35 each, £8.70 for two, £11 for three.
    Comp Page:
Buzzwords Poetry

 


Added
2.7.22

 

Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition.  Two categories in this one from Oxford Brookes University: Open, and English as a Second Language.  If you are a young Internet user/texter who only seems to have English as a second language, then you should enter the Open category.  Whichever category you choose, your poem should run to no more than 50 lines.
    Closing: 31.8.22 (11pm).
    Prizes (in each category): £1,000, £200.
    Entry Fee: £5 each for the first three, £4 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
OB Poetry Comp

 


Added
8.3.22

 

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award.  This annual contest from Aesthetica Magazine is for Short fiction running to no more than 2,000 words and poetry of up to 40 lines.  Submissions can be on any subject, say the promoters, but they then more or less cancel that by adding that they are ‘particularly interested in works that reflect upon our ever changing world.’
    Closing: 31.8.22.
    Prize (in each category): £2,500 plus other writing related prizes.  Finalists will be published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual.
    Entry Fee: £18 for fiction, £12 for poetry.
    Comp Page:
Aesthetica Award.

 


Added
1.6.22

 

Anansi Archive Writing Awards.  Here’s a freebie you might like to have a go at.  It comes from the Anansi Archive, a new writing community committed to supporting all levels of literary endeavour.  The contest has three categories: Poetry of up to 500 words, flash fiction of up to 500 words, and short fiction of up to 3,000 words.  There is no theme.
    Closing: 31.8.22.
    Prizes: Poetry and Flash Fiction - £20, £10.  Short Fiction - £50, £20.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Anansi Awards

 


Added
12.6.22

 

Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition.  Here we have a return of the annual international poetry contest from the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland.  To enter, you submit 16 to 24 pages of poetry in English.
    Closing: 31.8.22.
    Prizes: 1,000 euros, 500 euros. Winners also receive chapbook publication with 25 complimentary copies.  In addition, both winners will be offered a reading at the Cork International Poetry Festival, with three nights’ accommodation.
    Entry Fee: 25 euros.
    Comp Page:
Fool Poetry.

 

 

 

Hi Michael,
     Thanks for a very useful website. Since finding the contact details on your site, I've won the Txtlit competition twice, and the Write Invite competition four times. With the prize money I'm now entering other competitions. Thanks for keeping us writers posted!
     Best regards, Uta Coutts

 


Added
6.5.22

 

Hysteria Writing  Competition.  This annual contest is open to all writers of any age and nationality.  It has three categories: Short Story up to 1,000 words, Flash Fiction up to 250 words, and Poetry up to 12 lines.  The theme this year is Peace.
    Closing: 31.8.22.
    Prizes (in each category): £300 and publication in Hysteria.  Nine runners-up will be published the mag.
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page:
Hysteria Writing

 


Added
6.5.22

 

Blackness on Sea Poetry Prize.  Here’s a great freebie from The Lobster Pot pub in Blackness on Sea on the Firth of the Forth.  It closes on the seventh of the ninth.  Poems of genuine literary merit are required.  Entries will be posted on the website, anonymously, for all to see.  Poems should contain a mention, not necessarily complimentary, of The Lobster Pot pub and the village of Blackness on Sea.  The contest is open to all.
    Closing: 7.9.22.
    Prizes: 1st - £1,000 and a trophy shield.  2nd - £200 and trophy.
    Entry Fee: None - Free to enter.  Multiple entries permitted.
    Comp Page:
Blackness Poetry

 


Added
6.5.22

 

Troubador Poetry Prize.  A poem of up to 45 lines could give you grounds for celebration in this annual competition from Coffee House Poetry of London.  This year’s contest will be judged by Victoria Kennefick and Joshua Bennett.
    Closing: 26.9.22.
    Prizes: £2,000, £1,000, £500.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
Coffee House.

 


Added
4.4.22

 

Hammond House International Writing Competitions.  This offering from Hammond House Publishing at University Centre Grimsby is for short stories of between 1,000 and 5,000 words, poems of up to 40 lines, scripts (theatre, radio, short film or TV) of up to 10 pages (approx. 10 minutes duration), and comedy (sketch: 4 sides of A4; stand-up: 2 sides of A4).  In all categories the theme is Changes (this is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, they say).
    Closing: 30.9.22.
    Prizes: Short Story - £1,000, £100, £50.  Poetry - £500, £50, £20.  Script - £250.  Comedy - winning scripts performed at the 2023 Festival.
    Entry Fee : £10.
    Comp Page:
HH Lit Prize

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     I spent a year or so reading all those comments on your website from people who, since consulting your list, seem have won just about every competition going. I read it and thought it must be too good to be true – but worth a try. Then, on my third submission, I have actually gone and won the Yeovil Literary Prize for Poetry. I am absolutely over the moon, unable to believe it, etc.  Thank you so much.
                                                                                   -  Andy Miller

 


Added
15.5.22

 

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Prize.  This regular visitor from the USA has now become two competitions in one: the Tom Howard Prize and the Margaret Reid Prize.  The former is for poems in any style, while the latter is for traditional verse as defined on the competition page.  In both cases the line limit is a very generous (some might say extravagant) 250.
    Closing: 30.9.22
    Prizes: Tom Howard Prize (any style) - $3,000 + gift certificate.  Margaret Reid Prize (traditional verse) - $3,000 + gift certificate.  In addition there will be ten Honourable Mention awards of $200.  The Dishonourable Mention awards have been dropped this year following several suicides.  I wrote that last bit on April 1st.
    Entry Fee: $12.
    Comp Page:
TH & MR Poetry.

 


Added
21.6.22

 

Eyelands Book Awards.  This is the fifth of these international book award contests from literary magazine Eyelands and Strange Days Books in Greece.  There are two categories: Published Book and Unpublished Book.  Acceptable genres are Poetry, Novella, Short Story Collection, Novel, Children’s Book, Historical Fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel.
    Closing: 20.10.22.
    Prizes: Unpublished Book - Translation into Greek and publication by Strange Days Books.  Published Book - a 5-day holiday in Athens, a special handmade ceramic and publication of extracts online and on the Eyelands website.  Runners-up (10) - A special handmade ceramic and a book.  All winners receive a certificate, ideal for hanging on the wall where your visitors are sure to see it (i.e. next to the drinks cabinet or the television).
    Entry Fee: 20 euros up to August 30, then 27 euros.
    Comp Page:
Eyelands Book Awards

 


Added
1.5.22

 

Bedford Writing Competition.  This annual not-for-profit contest from Bedfordshire, home of the famous Shuttleworth Collection (old aeroplanes and cars) is for stories of up to 3,000 words and poems running to no more than 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.10.22.
    Prizes in each category (Poetry, Short Story, Young Writers): £1,000, £200, £100.   In addition there is the Bedford Short Story & Poetry Prize of £100 (each category) for a local resident, and the  Cygnature Short Story & Poetry Prize for writers aged 25 or under - £100 (each category).  Shortlisted and winning entries will be published in an anthology (e-book and hardcopy).
    Entry Fee: £7.50 each, £15 for three.  Full-time students: £5 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
BWC.

 


Added
1.6.22

 

Young Walter Scott Prize.  Historical fiction - that’s what this one is all about, but it’s only for those who have no experience of history, by which I mean children and young adults (11 to 15, and 16 to 19).  The fiction (800 to 2,000 words) can be in any form: prose, poetry, drama, fictional diaries, letters or reportage.  It must be set in a time before the author was born, ‘in a time clearly different from the present’, and inspired by an actual historical even, place or person.  Entries must be made in hard copy, so you may need to seek advice from your parents about the intricacies of the postal service (those red boxes you’ve seen in the streets are not for litter)..
    Closing: 31.10.22.
    Prizes (in each category): A £500 travel and research grant to explore historical places in the UK, plus a two-day trip to Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland.  Runners-up receive a £100 book token.  Winners and runners-up will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
Walter Scott Prize

 

 

 

Dear Michael
   I discovered your excellent site a few months back and entered some of the poetry competitions. I have in all my long years never received a payment for anything I have written, but I today received an email from Cooldog Publications to say I have won second prize in their E-mag Poetry Competition! £50! What a great way to start the new year.
   I just had to write and say thanks to you for the trouble you have taken with your site and how much I appreciate the sense of humour that underpins it.
  This has given me a terrific boost.
                                                                                -  Carol Browne

 


Added
30.7.22

 

SaveAs  International Writing Competition.  Here’s a repeat of the annual international contest from SaveAs Writers of Canterbury in Kent.  It is for poetry of up to 60 lines and stories running to no more than 3,500 words.  The theme this year is ‘Myth’.
    Closing: 31.10.22.
    Prizes (in each category): £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fees: Poetry - £3 each, £8 for three.  Stories - £4 each, £10 for three.  Take note that there is an additional admin charge of 75p per entry for online submissions.
    Comp Page:
SAW Myth

 


Added
2.7.22

 

National Poetry Competition.  Billed as one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for unpublished poems of up to 40 lines, this annual international contest from the Poetry Society really does carry some mighty cachet in literary circles.  And not just for poems of up to 40 lines: I’d say it beats contests for poems of any length.  Of course this means it gets a lot of entries and so it’s tougher to win than a tug-of-war with a pack of huskies, but you like a challenge, right?
    Closing: 31.10.22.
    Prizes: £5,000, £2,000, £1,000.  Plus Commended prizes of £20 each.
    Entry Fee : £7 for the first, £5 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
NPC Comp

 


Added
2.7.22

 

Snapshot Press Book Awards 2022.  This poetry contest from Snapshot Press of Ormskirk is for  book-length collections of between 60 and 100 haiku, tanka and other short poetry up to 25 lines including any blank lines (prose poems and haibun up to 200 words).  Poems must not have been previously published in a collection.
    Closing: 30.11.22.
    Prizes: Publication by Snapshot Press.
    Entry Fee: £20 per collection.
    Comp Page:
Snapshot Short Poetry.

 


Added
2.7.22

 

Moth Poetry Prize. This annual contest from Irish magazine The Moth is for poems of any length and on any subject.  I should perhaps mention that the magazine is not devoted to the subject of moths, fascinating though these may be.  It is an arts and literature magazine.  Presumably the name is a reference to the way artists and writers are attracted to the light of recognition only to beat their wings in vain against an invisible barrier until finally, broken and defeated, they slide down to the windowsill of despair.  You’d think the magazine people could have come up with something a bit more cheerful than that, wouldn’t you?
    Closing: 31.12.22.
    Prizes: 1st - 6,000 euros.  Runners-up (3) - 1,000 euros.  Commended (8) - 250 euros.
    Entry Fee: 15 euros.
    Comp Page:
Moth Poetry Comp.

 
  

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Notes: Unless otherwise stated in the rules, poetry should be single-spaced.  It is sometimes the case that your name shouldn’t appear on the manuscript. Check the rules.  If you put your name on there after being told not to, you’re out.  Don’t use coloured paper or fancy fonts.  The colour and pizzazz to make you stand out from the crowd should be in the words.  Plain white A4 80gsm paper is the stuff to use, with plain black typing or print.  My preferred font for poetry manuscripts printed on an inkjet or laser printer is Gill Sans in 12 point (13 if I’m not pressed for space).  This gives a clear, dark print that’s easy to read.  Although publishers and agents sometimes demand the feeble Courier font, which comes out on my printers like something produced by a typewriter with an antique ribbon, I’ve never known competition organisers to express any preference.  But as always, check the rules.  Finally, write on one side of the sheet only - unless asked to put your address, etc, on the back.
 

 
     

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Disclaimer

   
For other types of writing contests see the full list on my Writing Comps page.
 


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