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 (24)

 


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
20.4.21

 

WB Poetry Competition.  This recurring contest from Writers Bureau in Manchester is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject and in any form.
    Closing: 31.7.21.
    Prizes: £300, £200, £100.  Winners receive in addition a Writers Bureau course of their choice.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
WB Poetry.

 


Added
1.4.21

 

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021.  This annual freebie from The Poetry Society is said to be the UK’s largest poetry competition for writers between the ages of 11 and 17.  It certainly attracts a lot of entries.  Over 6,000 young people from across the world submitted their work last year.  Poems can be any length, in any style and on any subject, but they must be in English.
    Closing: 31.7.21.
    Prizes: The top 15 winners will be invited to attend a week-long residential writing course at a prestigious Arvon Centre, or they will receive mentoring from a professional poet.  The top 15 poems will be published in a print anthology which is sent out to over 20,000 school libraries and poetry enthusiasts.  The 85 commended poets will have their entries published in an online anthology.  There will be a prize-giving event in October, to which all 100 winners will be invited.  I’ve been to some of these events and there’s generally free booze, plus fellow poets can usually be relied upon to supply some weed (best not mention this to your parents).
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  You can enter more than one poem but they make it clear they don’t want you bunging in any old rubbish to make up the numbers (they put it more subtly than that, but that’s what they mean).
    Comp Page:
Foyle Young Poets.

 


Added
13.5.21

 

SLQ Poetry Competition.  This regular international contest from Sentinel Literary Quarterly is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject and in any style.
    Closing: 31.7.21.
    Prizes: 1st - £250.  2nd - £125.  3rd - £75.  Runners-up - 3 x £30, 3 x £20, 3 x paperback copy of SLQ mag.
    Entry Fee: £5 for one, £8 for two, £10 for three and so on.
    Comp Page:
SLQ Poetry.

 


Added
1.6.21

 

Winchester Poetry Prize.  This annual contest from the Winchester Poetry Festival is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject and in any style.  It is open to anyone aged 16 or over.
    Closing: 31.7.21.
    Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250.  Winners will be invited to read their entries at a special prize-giving event if no Covid-19 restrictions remain in place to prevent this.  Winning and commended poems will appear in an anthology.  There is also a prize for the best poem written by a Hampshire-based poet.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Winchester Fest .

 


Added
1.7.21

 

Briefly Write Poetry Prize.  This freebie from the Briefly Write website celebrates and rewards bold, succinct writing.  To this end, your entry should not exceed 10 lines.  In those ten lines, say the promoters, there should be innovatuive language and strong imagery.
    Closing: 8.8.21.
    Prizes: There is a prize fund of £50.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Briefly Write

 


Added
31.1.21

 

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.
    Closing: 31.8.21.
    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
16.6.21

 

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: 31.8.21.
    Prizes: 1,000 euros, 500 euros. Winners also receive chapbook publication with 25 complimentary copies.  In addition, both winners will be offered a reading and 3 nights’ accommodation at the Cork International Poetry Festival.
    Entry Fee: 25 euros.
    Comp Page:
Fool Poetry.

 

 

 

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
1.6.21

 

Hysteria Writing Competition.  This freebie is open open to all writers of any age and nationality.  It is for entries in four catergories: Short Story up to 600 words, Flash Fiction up to 100 words, Poetry up to 12 lines, and Under-16s entering any of the aforementioned categories.  The theme is Hope and Unity.
    Closing : 31.8.21.
    Prizes: £50 in each category.  The winners and nine others will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
Hysteria Writing

 


Added
1.5.21

 

NAWG Poetry & Short Story Competition.  Here we have an open-to-all contest from the National Association of Writers’ Groups.  It is for for short stories of up to 2,000 words (minimum 500), and poems of up to 40 lines.
    Closing : 31.8.21.
    Prize: £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fee: £5 each.  If entering poetry, you can submit three for £10.
    Comp Page:
NAWG Open.

 


Added
3.5.21

 

Save As Creative Writing Competition.  This annual international contest from SaveAs Writers of Canterbury in Kent is for poetry of up to 60 lines and stories running to no more than 3,500 words.  The theme this year is ‘Horizons’.
    Closing: 31.8.21.
    Prizes (in each category): £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fees: Poetry - £3 each, £8 for three.  Stories - £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
SAW Horizons.

 


Added
4.4.21

 

Moth Nature Writing Prize. This international contest from Irish magazine The Moth is in its second year and is for nature writing (prose or poetry) of up to 4,000 words. Your entry should combine exceptional literary merit with an exploration of your relationship with the natural world.
    Closing: 15.9.21.
    Prize: 1,000 euros and a week at Circle of Misse in France.
    Entry Fee: 15 euros.
    Comp Page:
Moth Nature Writing.

 


Added
1.6.21

 

Troubadour International Poetry Competition.  For this annual international contest, you submit a poem of no more than 45 lines.  The judges are John McAuliffe and Linda Gregerson.
    Closing: 27.9.21.
    Prizes: £2,000, £1,000, £500.
    Entry Fee: £5
    Comp Page:
Troubadour Poetry.

 


Added
1.7.21

 

Beechmore Writing Competition.  For this international freebie from Beechmore Books (a stationery brand based in London) you submit a piece of fiction, nonfiction or poetry of up to 1,000 words on the theme of ‘perspective’.
    Closing: 25.9.21.
    Prizes: 1st - £200 plus a year’s supply of Beechmore journals (12 books).  2nd - £100 plus a six-month supply of Beechmore journals (6 books).
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Beechmore Writing

 


Added
1.6.21

 

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, and theatre, radio, film or TV scripts of up to 10 pages (approx. 10 minutes duration).  In all categories the theme is Stardust (this is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, they say).  There is an additional category this year for Songwriting (lyrics or performed song).
    Closing: 30.9.21.
    Prizes: Short Story - £1,000, £100, £50.  Poetry - £500, £50, £20.  Script - £250.  Songriting - £100.  Shortlisted story and poetry entries will be published.  There will be a televised awards ceremony.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page :
HH Lit 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
15.7.21

 

Manchester Cathedral 600 Poetry Competition.  Believe it or not, it’s 600 years since the founding of the collegiate church that grew into the present-day Manchester Cathedral.  Seems like only yesterday.  To celebrate this great occasion, the cathedral is running a contest for poems of up to 15 lines.  You are probably wondering why it isn’t 600 lines.  I suspect it’s because the judges threatened to resign.  Poems should reflect, express or connect with the cathedral in some way.
They should be broadly religious or spiritual in nature, but should appeal to people who would not normally describe themselves as religious.  All faiths are welcome, they say, as well as poems from people struggling to discover a sense of the sacred.
    Closing: 30.9.21.
    Prizes: 10 x £100.  The winning poems will be published in a celebration booklet.
    Entry Fee: £6 for the first, £2 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
MCPC 600.

 


Added
1.5.21

 

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: 30.9.21.
    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.  The top 12 entries will be published online.
    Entry Fee: $12.
    Comp Page:
TH & MR Poetry.

 


Added
2.6.21

 

Best of the Bottom Drawer Global Writing Prize 2021.  Here’s an interesting freebie from Eyewear Publishing.  It is for any writing in any genre and style from anywhere in the world, up to 1,000 pages (minimum 40).  There’s a list on the website of the sort of things you could submit, but basically it’s anything that uses words (and optional images, so you could submit a graphic novel).
    Closing: 16.10.21.
    Prize: A publishing contract with an advance.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Bottom Drawer.

 


Added
17.6.21

 

Eyelands Book Awards.  This is the fourth 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: 20.10.21.
    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) - Special handmade ceramics.  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).
    Entry Fee: $22 (20 euros) up to Sept 1st, then $30 (27 euros).
    Comp Page:
Eyelands Book

 

 

 

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
7.4.21

 

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.  Poet and novelist Patrick McGuinness will be judging the short stories, while the poetry will be judged by poet Anne Berkeley.
    Closing: 31.10.21.  Opens for entries 1.5.21.
    Prizes in each main category (Poetry, Short Story): £1,000, £200, £100.  There are in addition awards of £100 each in the Bedford Short Story Prize and the Bedford Poetry Prize, these being for local residents only.  Finally there are prizes for poetry writers and short story writers 25 and under (see website for details).  Shortlisted and winning entries will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £7.50 each, £15 for three.  Full-time students: £5 each, £10 for three.  Net proceeds will be used to help children ‘catch up’, and also to assist the King’s Arms Homeless project.
    Comp Page:
BWC.

 


Added
1.6.21

 

Poetry Society National Poetry Competition.  In 1983 Carol Ann Duffy won this contest and 26 years later she became the Poet Laureate.  So if you’re hoping to become an overnight sensation, this is probably not the ideal starting point.  But there are compensations.  The top cash award is one of the best in the business, and the second prize isn’t bad either.  Your poem should run to no more than 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.10.21.
    Prizes: £5,000, £2,000, £1,000.  Runners-up (7) - £200.
    Entry Fee: £7 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
PSNPC.

 


Added
1.6.21

 

Snapshot Press Book Awards.  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: 30.11.21.
    Prizes: Publication by Snapshot Press.
    Entry Fee: £20 per collection.
    Comp Page:
Snapshot Short Poetry.

 
  

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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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