The 2021 Competition is now closed. Thank you to all who entered and also to everyone who shared. Winners will be contacted by 7 April.
We are pleased to announce the 9th poetry competition run by Poets & Players, one of Manchester’s leading organisers of poetry and music events.
Our judge for 2021 is Seán Hewitt
Seán Hewitt lectures in English literature at Trinity College Dublin, and is a Book Critic for The Irish Times. He won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2016, the Resurgence Prize in 2017, and an Eric Gregory Award in 2019. Tongues of Fire (Cape, 2020) is his debut collection of poetry, and was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2020. His next book, All Down Darkness Wide, will be published by Cape in the UK and Penguin Press in the USA in 2022.
A video message from judge Seán Hewitt:
What previous judges have said about the Poets & Players Competition:
When Poets & Players asked me to judge their competition I happily agreed. It’s an organisation I have long admired, from its earliest days with the inspiring founder Linda Chase, to today’s impressive incarnation in the splendid Whitworth Gallery. (Pascale Petit, 2018)
Poets & Players is one of the most significant and impressive poetry organisations in the country: the quality of the readings it puts on, its presence in the city is remarkable, so I’m delighted to be part of it in judging this competition. (Michael Symmons Roberts, 2017)
What was electrifying about this year’s entries … was not just the wide and eclectic range of subject matters … but also the range of forms and tones, the many tongues and registers that together created a resonating and distinct entry of poetry. (Jackie Kay, 2016)
What a fabulously organised competition… One tries to dissuade people from the idea of competitions but if you’re going to have one have it like this. (Paul Muldoon, 2015)
It was actually really fun judging the competition because you get the sense of what is happening in poetry right now … it was fascinating to take the temperature, as it were, of contemporary poetry. I’d like to thank Poets and Players organisation for running the competition, for wanting to run the competition, but also in general for the work that they do in promoting poetry in Manchester and the broader area, it’s a commendable organisation and I’m delighted to be associated with it. (Vona Groarke, 2014)
This competition was scrupulously organised, and I loved the fact that the anonymity of the entries allowed each poem to speak for itself. (Jacob Polley, 2013)
POETS & PLAYERS PRIZE
Seán Hewitt will read ALL poems. All poems will be judged anonymously.
1st Prize: £600
2nd Prize: £200
3rd Prize: £100
Commended poets at the judge’s discretion.
Closing Date: 1 March 2021
Winners will be informed by 7 April 2021 and will be invited to read alongside Seán Hewitt at the prize giving ceremony (date to be confirmed). If you have not been notified by 7 April 2021, we are afraid you have not been successful.
RULES AND OTHER INFORMATION
- The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16, except for members of the Poets & Players committee.
- Poems can be on any subject, in any style or form, but must be the author’s own original work (no translations). They should not have appeared anywhere before, online or in print. Please do not submit poems that are currently under consideration elsewhere.
- Maximum line length for individual poems is 40 lines (excluding title). Please do not include photographs or illustrations.
- No changes can be made to poems once submitted and we regret that we are unable to provide feedback or make any refunds.
- You may submit as many poems as you wish, accompanied by the appropriate payment and Entry Form/s.
- Please note that all competition entries must reach us by 1 March 2021, up to 12 midnight on this date (GMT); Entries arriving after this date will not be considered.
HOW TO ENTER BY EMAIL
ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form (see the link below):
Please email the completed Competition Entry Form and poems to
All email entries will be acknowledged.
- Please ensure that all poems are sent as a single attachment and not in the body of the email. Please use your name as the title of the document (poems and Entry Form can be in the same document but must be on separate pages). If you are submitting more than one poem you should include them all in the same attachment but please ensure pages are numbered and start each poem on a new page. Poems must be in English. Single spaced and font size 12. Please save documents as doc, docx or PDF.
- You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the Entry Form/s.
- Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
- Entry fee is £4 per poem or 3 for £10. Email entries must be paid by PayPal. IMPORTANT please include the PayPal reference number on the Entry Form.
CHECKLIST: Completed Entry Form including PayPal reference; poems on separate sheets (with no identifying information).
Entrants retain copyright of their poems, however, we will publish the winning poems on our website and/or in the Whitworth Art Gallery. We would also hope to receive permission to make a video recording of the winners reading for use on social media.