The National Poetry Competition 2009

2017 April 14

This year’s judges, leading poets Daljit Nagra, Ruth Padel and Neil Rollinson are waiting to read your poems. Will they uncover a future poet laureate?

The 32nd National Poetry Competition is now open for entries. As Britain’s top single-poem competition, and a highlight of the Poetry Society’s Centenary Year, it attracts entries from Nantwich to Nairobi. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, who is a possible future poet laureate, Jo Shapcott, Ian Duhig and Tony Harrison. The competition judges poems anonymously, ensuring that the award often generates vigorous debate and shock wins for previously unknown writers. Winning the National Poetry Competition is a rare and vital opportunity for a poet to have the spotlight turned on their work. They are published in the leading poetry magazine Poetry Review, on the Poetry Society’s Website, and get the chance to read their winning poem at the Ledbury Poetry Festival… all this on top of a £5,000 prize. 

Weighing up the merits of up to 10,000 poems will be Daljit Nagra, Neil Rollinson and Ruth Padel – who is also in the news as potential Oxford Professor of Poetry. Ruth gives a few tips on what she and her fellow judges will be looking for in a winning poem: “We shall be looking for original, imaginative and surprising poems, with their own voice and energy, that say something which hasn’t been said before. Crafted, but not self-conscious about it, no lazy words, and a beautiful, convincing movement through.”

What makes it the one all poets, whether new or established want to win? Dalgit Nagra, one of the judges this year explains; “Winning any prize in the National Poetry Competition is great acknowledgement for the poet that they are on the right path. The exposure does wonders for your CV, your kudos in the poetry world and for your confidence, as you will be noticed by your fellow poets!”

The winners and commendations also get the opportunity to meet the judges and key figures from the poetry world at an elegant award ceremony. Last year’s winner Christopher James was presented with his prize by Brian Patten in the glamorous surroundings of Mayfair’s Savile Club. He would urge anyone who writes poetry to have a go. “You have to be in it to win it,” he says.

Anyone out there could be the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2009 winner – all you’ve got to do is enter before the closing date on October 31 2009

To Enter Download an entry form at

Or send a stamped addressed envelope to: 
Competition Organiser (PR) 
22 Betterton Street 

Deadline for Entries : October 31st 2009

The National Poetry Competition was founded in 1978. Prizes of £5000, £1000 and £500 are awarded to the first, second and third-prize winners respectively. Ten commended poems are awarded £50 each. The winners’ poems will be published in Poetry Review and will read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in summer 2010.