National Poetry Competition 2013

Deadlines and an intense work schedule have been keeping me from writing for this blog of late, but I hope news of this national competition will more than compensate for my inattention. Since I won the second Ted Hughes Award for New Works in Poetry, the Poetry Society have been sending me information about the other competitions they administer. I’m always happy to promote these opportunities and so post the press release here:


One of the most prestigious competitions of its kind, the National Poetry Competition  attracts around 13,000 entries each year, from around the UK and beyond. Judged anonymously, the competition puts established and emerging writers on a level playing field. The 2013 winners will be announced in March 2014.

Winning the competition has been an important milestone in the careers of some of today’s leading poets such as the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy , Ruth Padel , Philip Gross , Colette Bryce , Tony Harrison  and Jo Shapcott.

Last year’s competition was won by Patricia McCarthy  who acknowledges the competition’s value:

“It is a real honour to win the National Poetry Competition and it seems to open up all sorts of other opportunities for the winning poet, all helped along by the Poetry Society.”

Julia CopusMatthew Sweeney and Jane Yeh are this year’s judges, and the prizes are £5,000 for the overall winner, £2,000 for the second, £1,000 for the third, with seven commendations of £100. The top three winners are also published in the Poetry Society’s leading international journal, Poetry Review.

The deadline is 31 October and you can enter online now or download an entry form from the Poetry Society website.

Since its launch in 1978, the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition has marked a milestone in the careers of many of today’s leading poets. Previous winners include Philip Gross, Jo Shapcott, Tony Harrison, and the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.


Julia Copus is a poet and radio dramatist. Her latest collection The World’s Two Smallest Humans (Faber) was shortlisted for both the 2012 T.S. Eliot Prize and Costa poetry prize. Her previous collections, The Shuttered Eye and In Defence of Adultery, were PBS Recommendations. She won First Prize in the National Poetry Competition (2002) and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (2010). In 2011, her sequence of poems about IVF, Ghost, was adapted as a BBC Radio 3 play entitled Ghost Lines. She is a Lector for the Royal Literary Fund, and in 2008 was made an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter.

Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal in 1952 and is currently based in Cork, having previously been resident in Berlin, Timisoara and, for a long time, London. His collections include Black Moon (2007), Sanctuary (2004) and Selected Poems (2002). A retrospective selection, The Night Post, was published by Salt in 2010. His new collection, Horse Music, was published by Bloodaxe in 2013. A satirical thriller, set in the world of contemporary poetry, co-written with the English poet, John Hartley Williams, was published in November 2012 by the Muswell Press under the title Death Comes for the Poets.

Jane Yeh was born in America and educated at Harvard University. She holds master’s degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first collection of poems, Marabou (Carcanet, 2005), was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh Festival poetry prizes. Her latest collection, The Ninjas, was published by Carcanet in 2012, and her poems appear in anthologies including The Best British Poetry 2012. Currently Senior Researcher in Creative Writing at Kingston University, she also teaches courses for the Arvon Foundation, and writes on books, theatre, fashion, and sport for publications such as the TLS and The Village Voice. She lives in London.


The National Poetry Competition was founded in 1978. The judges select ten top winners and the prize money this year totals £8,700 (first prize: £5,000; second prize: £2,000; third prize: £1,000, plus seven commendations, each £100). The top three prize winners’ poems will be published in Poetry Review, Britain’s leading poetry magazine. Previous winning and commended poems can be read on the Poetry Society website, The Ledbury Poetry Festival features an event with National Poetry Competition winners and judges every year. To enter the National Poetry Competition visit


The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote a “more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”. Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has nearly 4,000 members worldwide and publishes the leading poetry magazine, Poetry Review. With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, the Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages. The Poetry Society also runs the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and awards for young people, including SLAMbassadors

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