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. 

 
  

UK Poetry Competitions (currently 27)

 


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: £4 each, or £6 if you want a short critique (enclose sae for the critique if entering by post).
    Comp Page:
Click Here .

 


Added
29.6.17

 

Cinnamon Press Debut Collection Prize.  This annual contest from Welsh publisher Cinnamon Press is for poetry collections comprising 10 poems of up to 40 lines.
    Closing : Annually - 30 November.
    Prizes: A publishing contract and 100 copies of the collection.
    Entry Fee: £12 for one collection, £22 for two.
    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.

 

 

 

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
22.11.18

 

Spotlight Books Writing Competition.  Creative Future, Myriad Editions and New Writing South are seeking poets and fiction writers from under-represented backgrounds, i.e. those who face barriers due to mental health, disability, identity or social circumstances (you might for instance be a carer).  See the entry page for a comprehensive list.  If you fit the bill, submit a work of fiction of 8,000 to 10,000 words, or poetry of 40 to 45 pages (20 lines per page).  All genres welcome except explicit erotica and writing for children.
    Closing: 24.2.19.
    Prizes: Six selected writers will be supported to polish their manuscripts and further their careers.  In addition, each will be published in an individual short book.
    Entry Fee : None - free to enter (one manuscript per category per person).
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
1.11.18

 

Open House 2019.  This poetry contest from the long-running literary magazine The Interpreter’s House is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.
    Closing: 28.2.19.  Not open for entries until 2.1.19.
    Prizes: £500, £150, £75.
    Entry Fee: £1.75 each, £5 for three, £10 for six.  Winners will be published in the mag and in an Open House Competition pamphlet.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
30.11.18

 

Slipstream Poets Open Poetry Competition.  Here we have one from Slipstream Poets of West Sussex.  The contest has a line limit of 60 but no theme.  Creative writing teacher and poet Mandy Pannet will be judging.
    Closing: 28.2.19.
    Prizes: £150, £100, £50.  There is also £25 for the best West Sussex entry.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

Dear Michael

Just to let you know I’ve been entering writing competitions for several years and this year came second in the 19th Feile Filiochta International Poetry Competition. Hurrah! I probably wouldn’t have heard about it but for your site (and I still don’t know how to say it). I don’t even consider it one of my better poems – but it was free to enter. It just goes to show that literary competition judges have to be very subjective in the end, so it’s worth carrying on even when you don’t feel that confident. Anyway, I’m off to spend my winnings of 500 euros (that’s very nearly £375 in real money). Keep up the good work!
     Here’s a link to the
poem that won the prize.

      All the best - Clare Kirwan

 


Added
3.12.18

 

The Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition.  To enter this annual international contest from The Poetry Business you submit 20 to 24 pages of your poetry.
    Closing: 1.3.19.
    Prizes (4): Publication of a pamphlet by smith/doorstop Books, a share of £2,000, a launch reading at The Wordsworth Trust and a £10 gift voucher from Inpress Books, plus publication of at least one poem in The North magazine.  There will also be an opportunity to submit an extended manuscript (a further 30-plus pages) at no extra charge for possible publication in book form (instead of the pamphlet).
    Entry Fee: £28.  Yike.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
3.12.18

 

The Poetry Business New Poets Prize.  If you can arrange to be between 17 and 24, you will be eligible to enter this competition from publisher and writer development agency The Poetry Business.  The contest is for collections of poems (12 pages).
    Closing: 1.3.19.
    Prizes: Four outstanding collections will be published in pamphlet form, and the writers will receive  a year of support and mentoring led by Ann and Peter Sanson of The Poetry Business.
    Entry Fee: £8.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
1.12.18

 

Christopher Tower Poetry Prize 2019.  This annual contest from Christ Church, Oxford, is open to full- or part-time UK students between the ages of 16 and 18.  It is for poems of up to 48 lines.  This year’s theme has sunk without trace.  It’s ‘Underwater’.
    Closing: 1.3.19.
    Prizes: 1st - £3,000.  2nd - £1,500.  3rd - £500.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  One per preson.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
17.9.18

 

Hippocrates Young Poets Prize for Poetry and Medicine.  This international contest is open to young poets of between 14 and 18.  Poems of up to 50 lines on a medical subject are required.
    Closing: 1.3.19.
    Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250.  Winning poems will be published online and in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £2 each,  £15 for ten.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

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
15.1.19

 

Brotherton Poetry Prize.  This new international contest from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre is for poets who have not yet had a full collection published.  To enter, you submit up to five poems with a combined line count of up to 200.  Winners and shortlisted poems will be published in an anthology.  Amongst the judges are Simon Armitage and Melvin Bragg.
    Closing: 4.3.19.
    Prizes: 1st - £1,000 and the opportunity to develop your creative practice with the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.  Runners-up (4) - £200.  All shortlisted poets will receive £150 for travel expenses to attend the competition announcement.
    Entry Fee: £10 per five poems.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
7.11.18

 

Neil Gunn Writing Competition.  This annual international contest from The Neil Gunn Trust and  High Life Highland Libraries has two categories for adults: Poetry and Short Story.  For the former there is a 40-line limit, while the latter has an allowance of up to 2,500 words.  Entries should be inspired by one of the following quotes from the works of Neil Gunn.  ‘Suddenly something came out of the land, some cool shiver of Spring.’ Or:  ‘... at last, all the pieces, the whole pattern.’  Entries, they say, can be in any variety of English or Scots, or a combination of both.  Any variety?  I think they’re asking for trouble there.  The contest also has categories exclusively for Highland Council schools, as detailed on the website.
    Closing: 8.3.19.
    Prizes (in each adult category): £500, £300, £200.  Winners will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: £8.  Only one entry per person per category.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 9.2.19

 

Poets & Players Poetry Competition.  This regular contest from Poets & Players of Manchester is for works of up to 40 lines on any subject and in any style.  The judge is poet Kei Miller, who will read all the entries.
    Closing: 13.3.19.
    Prizes: £600, £200, £100.
    Entry Fee: £4 for one, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
Click Here

 


Added
 8.2.19

 

Wicked Young Writer Awards.  Launched by the long-running West End musical Wicked, this annual contest for young writers between the ages of 5 and 25 is for stories, poems, and plays on any subject running to no more than 750 words.  There are six age categories, as detailed  below.  If you are 15 to 25 you can also enter a separate non-fiction category for essays, articles, biographies, reviews or letters.  Michael Morpurgo is an honorary judge of the Awards, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is a patron - so there is a certain amount of prestige attached to this.
    Closing: 18.3.19.
    Prizes: I know most of you will be too young and pure to be motivated by avarice, but bear with me while I list the prizes for the benefit of the rest.  Winners in the 5-7, 8-10 and 11-14 categories will receive a £50 book token and £100 in books for the winner’s school.  Winners in the 15-17 category receive a £50 book token and a writing masterclass with a professional author.  18-25 category: £50 book token and a self-publishing package from Spiderwise.  All winners will also receive four tickets to see the London production of Wicked, and they will be able to meet cast members after the show.  In the non-fiction category the winner will receive work experience at First News newspaper, shadowing the editor Nicky Cox, MBE.  All finalists will see their work published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
5.1.19

 

Poets & Players Poetry Competition.  This contest from Poets & Players, one of Manchester’s leading organisers of poetry and music events, is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.  The judge is poet, novelist, short story writer and essayist Kei Miller.  He will be reading all the entries, although possibly not those with 41 lines or more as these will have been pounced upon by a cold-hearted sifter and consigned to oblivion (and serves you right too - I told you it was 40 lines max, but you thought they wouldn’t mind an extra bit in view of the brilliance of the writing).
    Closing: 13.3.19.
    Prizes: £600, £200, £100.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

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
11.12.18

 

The Binstead Prize.  This contest from Binstead Arts and the South Downs Poetry Festival is for  poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  Award winning poet James Simpson will be judging.
    Closing: 29.3.19.
    Prizes: £250, £150, £50.  Prizewinners will be invited to read their poems in Binstead Church during the poetry evening, one of the events in the 2019 Binstead Art Festival.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here

 


Updated
 11.2.19

 

Poetry on the Lake Festival Competition.  This annual international contest from Italy, now in its eighteenth year, has two categories: Silver Wyvern, for poems of up to 42 lines, and Formal for traditional forms (sonnet, sestina, villanelle, etc) up to 42 lines).  There is no compulsory theme, but there is a separate prize for the best poem in either category that has the theme of ‘Spirit’ (interpret this as you wish).
    Closing: 31.3.19.
    Prizes: Silver Wyvern: 500 euros, 200 euros.  Formal category: 100 euros.  Best ‘spirit’ themed poem in any category - 100 euros.
    Entry Fee (online): £10 for the first, £8 thereafter.  Early bird entries (by 31.12.18) - £6 each.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
1.11.18

 

Fish Poetry Competition.  Poems of up to 300 words are invited for this contest from Fish Publishing based in southern Ireland.  Billy Collins will be judging.
    Closing: 31.3.19.
    Prizes: 1st - 1,000 euros.  2nd - A week’s residency at Anam Cara Writers’ retreat.  3rd - 200 euros.  The top 10 poems will be published in the Fish Anthology 2019.
    Entry Fee: 14 euros, for the first, 8 euros thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here .

 


Added
1.10.18

 

Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Competition.  This contest from Winning Writers in the USA is for published or unpublished humorous poems of up to 250 lines.  Before entering, it is advisable to check some of the past winners and judge’s comments (in the Contest Archives), as here you will find information about things the judges frown upon.
    Closing: 1.4.19.
    Prizes: 1st - $1,000 plus gift certificate.  2nd - $250.  Runners-up (10) - $100.  The top 12 entries will be published online.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  One entry per person.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 1.2.19

 

Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize.  The Alpine Fellowship is a charity project of the German-based ‘Argosophia Stiftung’ ... which I’m sure needs no introduction from me.  The prize is international in scope.  It is awarded for the best piece of writing in any genre, running to no more than 2,500 words.  This year’s theme is Identity, this being the topic of the Fellowship’s 2019 symposium later this year (click on ‘2019’ at the top of the comp page for details).
    Closing: 1.4.19.
    Prize: £10,000, £3,000, £2,000.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  One entry per person.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
1.12.18

 

Ver Poets Open Competition.  This annual contest from Ver Poets of St Albans in Hertfordshire is for poems of up to 30 lines on any subject.  Kathryn Maris, creative writing tutor and poet, will be judging.
    Closing: 30.4.19.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £100.  Winning and selected poems will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £10 for three, £3 each thereafter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

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
 1.2.19

 

Grey Hen Poetry Competition.  This contest from Grey Hen Press is for poems of up to 40 lines by woman who are prepared to admit to being over 60.  There is no theme.
    Closing: 30.4.19.
    Prizes : £100, £50, £25.  Winners will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: £3 each, £10 for four.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
16.12.18

 

Ware Poets Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Ware Poets of Hertfordshire is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  There is a separate category for sonnets.  Poet Maggie Butt will be judging.
    Closing: 30.4.19.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £150.  Ware Sonnet Prize - £150.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, £12 for four, £3 each thereafter.
    Entry Form and Details (pdf):
Click Here.

 


Added
22.1.19

 

Tamworth Litfest Writing Competition.  This contest from Tamworth in Staffordshire is for stories and poems on any subject.  There are three age categories, each having a different word limit as follows: 16+ (above school age and beyond) - 1,500 words, Secondary School (years 7 to 11) - 1,000 words, Primary School (up to and including year six) - 500 words.
    Closing: 30.4.19.
    Prizes: Age 16+ - £100, £50, £25.  Secondary school - £50, £25, £15.  Primary school - £20, £15, £10.  Best entries could appear in an anthology.  Proof of age will be required prior to awarding of the prizes.
    Entry Fee: Age category 16+ - £4.  Other age categories - free entry.
    Comp Page
Click Here.

 


Added
15.2.19

 

Creative Future Writing Awards.  Creative Future is seeking poets and fiction writers from under-represented backgrounds, i.e. those who face barriers due to mental health, disability, identity or social circumstances (you might for instance be a carer).  See the entry page for a comprehensive list.  You also need to be over 18, resident in the UK and not published in book form, etc, by an established press/publisher.  If you fit the bill, submit a work of fiction of up to 2,000 words, or poetry of up to 300 words, on the theme of Home.
    Closing: 2.6.19.
    Prizes (in each category): 1st - £100, a Chapter and Verse Mentorship, manuscript assessment and a chance to attend a TLC industry day, plus meet the professionals, plus a copy the Creative Future guide Pitching to Agents.  2nd - £75, a manuscript assessment, a five-day writing retreat with full board, a copy of Pitching to Agents (prose) or Social Media Guide (poetry).  3rd - £50, partial manuscript assessment and coaching, a year’s subscription to Writing Magazine , and a copy of the guide shown above.  4th - £25, a poetry tutorial or story critique, a year’s sub to Mslexia Magazine and a copy of the guide mentioned above.  There are also prizes for Highly Commended and Commended, and then there are ‘Joint prizes’, presumably so you can smoke away the blues after not winning the top prize ... oh, hang on, I think I’ve misunderstood that one.  It seems these prizes are something extra that all winners get jointly.  Well, that’s a disappointment.
    Entry Fee: Entry is free, although there is an optional suggested donation of £3 (either way, it’s one entry per category per person).
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 

 

 

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
 1.2.19

 

Segora International Writing Competition.  This is the thirteenth of these contests from Poetry Prose and Plays, which is based in France.  It is for short stories of between 1,500 and 3,000 words, poems of up to 50 lines, one-act plays with a running time of up to 35 minutes, and vignettes of up to 300 words.  Not many vignette contests about these days.  This is because hardly anyone knows what a vignette is. You do of course, and in fact you probably have a dozen or so already written.  For the rest, I’ll give by way of enlightenment a definition from Collins: ‘A short piece of writing that clearly expresses the typical characteristics of something or someone.’  You can read last year’s winners for all categories on the website.
    Closing: 15.6.19.
    Prizes: Short Stories and Poetry - £300, £50, £30.  Vignettes - £100.  Plays - £150, £50.  Winners will be published on the website.
    Entry Fees: Short Stories - £8 each, £14 for two, £20 for three.  Vignettes and Poems - £5 each for the first, £2.50 each thereafter.  Plays - £12.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

 


Added
 12.2.19

 

George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition.  This contest from the Suffolk Poetry Society, a registered charity, is for poems of up to 50 lines on any subject.  To enter you need to have been born in Suffolk, or work or reside there, or have been educated there.  Alternatively you can buy eligibility by joining the Society (details on entry form).
    Closing: 29.6.19.
    Prizes: £600, £300, £150.  Runners-up (2) - £75.
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page:
Click Here

 


Added
 9.2.19

 

Hastings Litfest Writing Competitions.  This one from the Hastings Literary Festival is for short stories of up to 1,500 words, poems of up to 40 lines and flash fiction of up to 500 words.  The theme is In Other Words.
    Closing: 30.6.19.
    Prizes (in each category): £100, £50, £25.  Winners and highly commended entrants get a Litfest Trophy (which you can be casually polishing when the vistors arrive).  There will be an anthology featuring the top three entries from each cetegory.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page:
Click Here

 
  

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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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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 competitions, see the full list of literary contests on my Writing Comps page.

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My Humorous        This is the Prizemagic website                   Poem:
     
Verse                Email comps@prizemagic.co.uk               Being a
   & Songs             Copyright: Michael Shenton 2019                  Writer

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