Stiff Competition - the novel

My Novel

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 (32)

 


Updated
 29.6.17

 

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
11.10.1 7

 

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.

 

 

 

And now a word from our sponsor.  Hello.  I’m Michael Shenton, creator of this website and author of Stiff Competition , winner of the Peter Pook Humorous Novel Competition.  People who are looking for me through search engines can remember just about everything about the website save its name and, more distressingly for me, my name. They search for ‘Peter Pook author’, ’the man who wrote Peter Pook’, ‘that bloke who won the cars’ and all manner of other odd things, but never ‘Michael Shenton’. The sole purpose of this site is to get my name known in the hope that one day dozens of people will buy my current novel and any others I manage to get published.  So would you all kindly make a note of it.  Michael Shenton.  Thank you.

 


Added
29.6.19

 

Buzzwords Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Buzzwords Poetry of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is for poems of up to 70 lines.
    Closing: 24.8.19.
    Prizes: £600, £300, 5 x £50.  Gloucestershire Resident Prize - £200.
    Entry Fee: Postal - £4 for one, £10 for three.  Online - £4.35 for one, £8.70 for two, £11 for three.
    Comp Page:
Buzz Poetry Comp.

 


Added
2.3.19

 

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: 31.8.19.
    Prize (in each category): £1,000 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:
Click Here.

 


Added
19.7.19

 

SLQ Poetry Competition.  This recurring contest from Sentinel Literary Quarterly is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 31.8.19.
    Prizes: £250, £100, £50, 3 x £30, 3 x £15.  Winners will be published in the mag online and in print.
    Entry Fee: £5 each, £8 for two, £10 for three, £12 for four, £16 for seven, £22 for ten.
    Comp Page:
SLQ Poetry Comp.

 


Added
1.8.19

 

SWWJ Floella Benjamin Trophy.  This contest from the SWWJ, a writers’society formed in 1894, is for short stories, essays, articles, letters interviews, monologues or plays of up to 500 words, or poems of up to 40 lines.  The theme is ‘Children are our Future’.
    Closing: 31.8.19.
    Prize: £200 and the trophy, plus a year’s membership of the SWWJ.
    Entry Fee: £2.50 (only one entry per person).
    Comp Page:
SWWJ Trophy.

 


Added
1.8.19

 

Jack Grapes Poetry Prize.  For this freebie from American mag Next Echo/Cultural Weekly, you submit up to two unpublished poems.  There is no indication of a line limit or theme.  Incidentally, don’t go looking for Jack Grapes in the fruit aisle at your local supermarket: he’s a poet.
    Closing: 31.8.19.
    Prizes: 1st (3) - $250.  Runners-up (6) - $75.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter (only one submission per person).
    Comp Page:
Jack Grapes.

 

 

 

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
13.5.19

 

Prole Poetry Pamphlet Competition.  This annual contest from Prolebooks of Abergele in Wales is for pamphlet collections of up to 35 A5 pages.
    Closing: 31.8.19.
    Prize: £400 and 25 copies of the pamphlet.
    Entry Fee : £12 for one, £20 for two.
    Comp Page:
PPPC.

 


Added
26.5.19

 

SaveAs Writers All Things Moon Competition.  This 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 starry-eyed theme, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, is any aspect of humanity’s relationship with the cosmos.  So you could, for instance, write a jolly tale about mankind’s obsession with finding alien life and how this leads to our eventual destruction (suggested title: We Are Not Alone - Unfortunately).
    Closing: 31.8.19.
    Prizes (in each category): £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fees: Poetry - £3 each, £8 for three.  Stories - £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
SAW Moon.

 


Added
30.6.19

 

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: 2.9.19 (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
 2.7.19

 

Danny Pyle Memorial Competition.  This contest from the Torbay Festival of Poetry in Torquay is for humorous poems of up to 35 lines.  The judge is poet, painter actor and spoken word artiste Brenda Hutchings.
    Closing: 15.9.19.
    Prizes: 1st - £100, £50.  Shortlisted poets will be invited to read their entries at the Festival.  Winning poets will be invited to attend the Prizegiving.
    Entry Fee: £5 for two poems, £10 for five.
    Comp Page:
Torbay Poetry.

 


Added
 2.8.19

 

Next Chapter Award.  This annual bursary (to win which you compete against others - so it’s a competition) comes courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust.  It is open only to emerging writers over 40 who are based in Scotland.  Genres include Poetry, Novel, Short Story, Narrative Non-Fiction and Children’s.  To apply, you submit a sample of your work and other written items as listed on the comp page.  The sample can be up to 2,500 words (short stories or an extract from a longer work plus a synopsis), or 140 lines of poetry.
    Closing: 18.9.19 (noon).
    Prize: £2,000.  The award is to allow you to focus on your work, they say, so I assume they expect you to stop wasting valuable writing time trying to earn a living.  If that’s the case, I think they need to add another zero to that amount.  But hey, in addition to the cash, you get nine months of mentoring from a writer or industry professional, a two week retreat at Moniack Mhor (a creative writing centre in the Highlands, with haggis for dinner every day or just once a week if you behave yourself), plus PR, performance and presentation training, plus the opportunity to showcase work to publishers and agents.
    Entry Fee: .None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
Next Chptr Award.

 


Added
 2.7.19

 

Manchester Writing Competition.  This international contest from Manchester Writing School at the Manchester Metropolitan University was originally inaugurated to celebrate ‘the substantial cultural and literary achievements of Manchester’, of which I am unable to give an example at this time.  My childhood memories of Manchester are centred around Moss Side where my father for a time ran a fast-food business (chip shop, as we called it back then).  I was kept locked in the cellar peeling spuds, with a 15-watt incandescent light bulb for company.  It was there in that creepy dungeon, while peering into the dark corners, that I developed my vivid imagination - not to mention my nervous twitches.  Culture?  Literature?  Be serious.  But times, I suppose, have changed.  So let us return to the competition, which is for poems and short stories.  To enter the Poetry category you submit a portfolio of three to five poems, these to consist of no more than 120 lines in total.  For the Fiction Prize the requirement is for a story running to no more than 2,500 words in any genre.
    Closing: 20.9.19.
    Prize (in each category): £10,000.
    Entry Fee: £17.50.
    Comp Page:
MMU Writing Comp.

 


Added
 1.8.19

 

Voices Poetry Competition.  This national contest comes from Maggie’s Centre in Nottingham which gives support to cancer sufferers as well as their families and friends.  There is no line limit.  Along with your poem you are asked to submit a short biography.  Entries will be published in the blog and shared on social media.
    Closing: 30.9.19 (noon).
    Prizes: 1st - £100 in book tokens.  Runners-up (2) - £50 in book tokens.
    Entry Fee: None - but a small donation to Maggie’s Centre would be appreciated.
    Comp Page:
Voices Poetry.

 


Added
 1.7.19

 

Salopian Open Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from the Salopian Poetry Society in Telford, Shropshire, is for poems of up to 80 lines.  Sir Michael Leighton will be this year’s judge.
    Closing: 30.9.19.
    Prizes: £200, £100, £55, 3 x £30.  Best Humorous Poem: £75.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £12 for four, £15 for six.
    Comp Page:
Sal Poetry Comp

 


Added
13.7.19

 

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: 30.9.19.
    Prizes: Tom Howard Prize (any style) - $2,000 + gift certificate.  Margaret Reid Prize (traditional verse) - $2,000 + gift certificate.  In addition there will be ten Honourable Mention awards of $100.  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
19.7.19

 

Littoral Press Poetry Competition.  This contest is for full collections of nature, spiritual or environmental poetry.  If you don’t have enough of this type of verse for a full collection (50 to 100 A5 pages), you can include others as long as at least 50% is in the specified genre).
    Closing: 30.11.19.
    Prize: Publication of your collection by Littoral Press as an A5 perfect-bound book with full colour covers and between 50 and 100 pages.  The book will have an ISBN.  You will receive 50 copies.  You will be the sole distributor.  Should you sell your copies and require more, this can be arranged with Littoral Press, or you could have the book printed elsewhere as you retain all rights.
    Entry Fee: £20 per collection.
    Comp Page:
L.Press 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
16.8.19

 

BHAC 2019 Sussex Poetry Competition.  Presented by Brighton & Hove Arts Council in conjunction with the University of Brighton, this contest is open to anyone over the age of 16 with links to Sussex.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.  There is also a Young Students Competition for any students under 30 years old.
    Closing: 20.10.19.
    Prizes: 1st - £1,000.  Runner-up - £250.  2nd Runner-up - A University of Brighton writing course.  Highly Commended (4) - £25.  Winners will be invited to read their poems on stage at the BHAC Poetry Festival on November 24.  Winning entries will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: Main Competition - £6 for the first, £4 thereafter.  Young Students Competition - free entry.
    Comp Page:
BHAC Poetry.

 


Added
 1.4.19

 

Troubadour International Poetry Competition.  For this annual international contest, you submit a poem of no more than 45 lines on one A4 or US-Letter size page.  They don’t say so, but the usual form is to use only one side of the page ... so if your lines consist of, say 250 words each, you will have to have a rethink, you weird person.
    Closing: 21.10.19.
    Prizes: £2,000, £1,000, £500.
    Entry Fee: £6 (at the time of writing, the fees shown in the Rules did not tally with those in the payment boxes at the foot of the page, so I think the Rules were, and maybe still are, in need of an update - a fact I mention in case you are thinking of going retro and paying by cheque).
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
5.3.19

 

Momaya Poetry Competition. This is the second poetry contest from Momaya Press of Bonn in Germany and Roxbury in the USA.  Open worldwide, it is intended to be an annual event.  The theme this year is Masks, and there is a word limit of 1,500.
    Closing: 30.10.19.
    Prizes: £70, £35, £20.  Winners along with up to 50 Honourable Mentions will be published in the Momaya Poetry Review 2019.  The three winners will receive a free copy.
    Entry Fee: £7.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 2.7.19

 

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: 31.10.19.
    Prizes: £5,000, £2,000, £1,000.  Runners-up (7) - £200.  The top three winners will be published in Poetry Review.
    Entry Fee: £7 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
PSNPC.

 

 

 

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
 1.5.19

 

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: 31.10.19.
    Prizes (in each cetegory): £500, £150, £100.  In addition there is the Bedford Short Story Prize of £100 for a local resident, and a young writers prize of £100 for entrants between 17 and 30.
    Entry Fee: £6 each, £12 for three.  Full-time students: £4 each, £8 for three.  Net proceeds will be donated to charity.
    Comp Page:
BWC.

 


Added
 1.7.19

 

Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition .  This annual contest from the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, is for poems of up to 40 lines in English on any subject.
    Closing: 30.11.19.
    Prizes: 1st - 2,000 euros, publication in Southword Journal, and a week’s residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.  2nd - 500 euros and publication in Southword Journal.  3rd - 250 euros and publication in Southword Journal.  Runners-up (10) - publication in Southword Journal and a fee of 50 euros.
    Entry Fee: 7 euros each, 30 euros for five.
    Comp Page:
GregOD Poetry .

 


Added
12.8.19

 

NAWG Open Writing Competition.  Here we have a repeat of the annual open-to-all contest from the National Association of Writers’ Groups.  It has two categories: short story and poetry.  Stories should be between 500 and 2,000 words, while the poems should have no more than 40 lines.  This year’s theme is Betrayal.  The judges are Tim Wilson (stories) and Alison Chisholm (poetry). 
    Closing: 30.11.19.
    Prizes (in each category): £200, £100, £50.  Winning entries may be published on the website, in Link magazine and/or in the annual anthology.
    Entry Fee: £5 for a single poem or short story.  You can enter three poems for £10.
    Comp Page:
NAWG Open.

 


Added
16.8.19

 

Anglica Poetry Competition.  Here from English language and literature tuition organisation Anglica is a free contest for poetry of up to 100 lines (extracts from longer works are permitted).  Poems should be written in a discernible metre but other than that you are encouraged to follow your fancy however outlandish, passionate or dull.  I would advise going easy on the dull, but I’m not judging this, so who knows?  For inspiration they suggest looking at the poems of John Milton or the sonnets of Shakespeare.
    Closing: 1.12.19.
    Prizes: £50, £20.  The best poems will feature in the Anglica Journal.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Anglica Poetry.

 


Added
 2.7.19

 

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: 31.12.19.
    Prizes: 1st - 10,000 euros.  Runners-up (3) - 1,000 euros.
    Entry Fee: 12 euros.
    Comp Page:
Moth Poetry Comp .

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     I discovered your website last year and entered lots of comps - no prizes in 2008. This year I decided just to enter The Trowell and District Writers Trust competitions - again directed from your site and also in the hope of bettering my marks compared to my entries last year.
     I am delighted to say I went along to the Presentation yesterday and received 1st prize in the Open Poetry competition - a lovely certificate, a shield and some prize money.
     I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon which had a "Stand and Deliver" poetry competition as well as a raffle, refreshments, sales of Members poetry, and time to chat and get to know people.
     The comps are great - all entries receive a mark and a short critique - I found all these helpful and encouraging. I feel I have new friends and a lovely day to look back on.
                                                                                -  Kate Brumby

 


Added
14.5.19

 

The Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition.  Here’s another Corker from Ireland.  Sorry couldn’t resist that.  I’ll start again.  This one from Cork in Ireland is for poems of up to 50 lines (including line breaks) which feature the five words given on the website for that week.  A shortlist of 12 poems will be selected after the final closing date next January, and the winner will be chosen from that.  Ó Bhéal, incidentally, is a weekly poetry event in Cork (and as you probably know, the word itself is Irish for ‘word of mouth’).
    Closing: Every Tuesday at noon until the last week of January 2020.
    Prize: 500 euros and an invitation to read at Ó Bhéal’s twelfth anniversary event in Ireland on 13.4.20, with travel expenses of 100 euro and B&B accommodation.
    Entry Fee: 5 euro.
    Comp Page:
Ó Bhéal Five Words.

 


Added
12.8.19

 

The Plough Poetry Prize.  Arr, it be that time again.  The Plough Prize is back for its umpteenth annual appearance.  It comes from the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington, Devon.  It is for poems of up to 40 lines in any style and on any subject.  The judge this year is  Greta Stoddart.
    Closing: 31.1.20.
    Prizes: I’m tempted to say ploughs, but I think I’ve done that one before.  The prizes are actually quite useful amounts of money: £1,000, £500, £250.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
Plough PP.

 


Added
10.7.19

 

John Byrne Award.  This offering from Edinburgh, which is open to those aged 16 to 30 living in Scotland, is an online exhibition and creative competition exploring personal and societal values.  All manner of creative work can be entered, but what we are interested in here is the prose and poetry.  For this you submit a single piece of work (anything from a novella to a short story, article, poem, etc) along with a question that summarises the thinking behind the work, and a short paragraph explaining why this question is important.  The question will appear as the title of your work on the website.  You can read some entries on there now.
    Closing: End of each month until 31.1.20.
    Prizes: Monthly - £250.  Final - £2,500.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page:
J.B.Award.

 
  

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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.
 

 
     

Finally, as you sift through the remnants of your shattered dreams and wonder if it’s worth going on ... www.samaritans.co.uk/


Disclaimer

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


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