Established in 1978, and still going strong, The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition is one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious poetry contests for experts and beginners. Winners include both established and emerging poets, and for many the prize has proved an important career milestone. The list of past winners includes the current UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Harrison, Ruth Padel, Jo Shapcott, Colette Bryce and Philip Gross – among many others. The most recent winner was American poet Eric Berlin for his powerful poem ‘Night Errand’. All the entered poems are read by the judges, and the work is judged anonymously, so everyone is in with a chance.
The first prize is £5,000, and there are cash prizes for a further nine winners. Winning and commended poems will be published in an anthology and on The Poetry Society’s website, reaching thousands of readers from all over the world when the prizes are announced in spring.
The Poetry Society opens up further opportunities for all winning and commended poets each year, including invitations to read at events and festivals around the UK plus ongoing support and recognition in the years ahead. Recent winners have had their poems adapted into film poems, shown at festivals in the UK and Europe, and have performed at events at Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts and the Bluecoat in Liverpool – as well as at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the BBC Proms Extra Lates.
You can catch the most recent winner Eric Berlin at the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival in November, where he will be reading alongside commended poet Geraldine Clarkson and past winner Ian Duhig. And you can listen in to past National Poetry Competition events with Transatlantic Poetry or at Ledbury Poetry Festival for free online.
Entries for the National Poetry Competition are now closed. There are also plenty of free resources for writers on the website – including top tips from past winners about entering competitions, what judges are looking for in winning poems and writing workshops from our partners the Poetry School.