The Winners of our 2023 Competition Judged by Philip Gross

We are delighted to announce the three winners of our 2023 competition judged by Philip Gross:

Laura Theis (1st)

Sara-Jane Arbury (joint 2nd)

Steve Pottinger (joint 2nd)

All three winners will join Philip Gross on 20 May at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for a free event where they will read their winning poems and also read some of their other work. Philip Gross will also read for us (more details of this event will follow shortly). If you can’t make it to this event the poems will be published on the website after the event.

Many congratulations are also due to the five poets whose poems Philip Gross has singled out for commendation (in alphabetical order):

Ken Evans

Naoise Gale

Vlad Pasca

Thea Smiley

Christian Ward

The Winners

Laura Theis (1st Prize)

Writing in her second language, Laura Theis received a Distinction from Oxford University’s MSt in Creative Writing. Her work appears in venues such as Poetry, Mslexia, Magma, Rattle, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies by Candlestick Press, Broken Sleep Books, Pan Macmillan, and Aesthetica, amongst many others. Her Elgin-Award-nominated debut ‘how to extricate yourself’, an Oxford Poetry Library Book-of-the-Month, won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize. She was the recipient of the Society of Authors’ Arthur Welton Award, the AM Heath Prize, EAL Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize, Mogford Prize, Hammond House International Literary Award, and a Forward Prize nomination. 

A runner-up for the Mairtin Crawford Award, she was shortlisted for the Women Poets’ Prize, the Bridport Prize, the Margaret Reid Poetry Prize, the Hippocrates Prize, the Alpine Fellowship, and a finalist for numerous other literary awards including the National Poetry Competition and the BBC Short Story Award. Her forthcoming book  ‘A Spotter’s Guide for Invisible Things’ has won the 2022 Live Canon Collection Prize.

She lives in Oxford with her partner (a neuroscientist) and her dog (a lunatic).

Sara-Jane Arbury (Joint 2nd Prize)

Sara-Jane Arbury is a writer, poet, performer and tutor. She has collaborated with many organisations including Oxford University Press, the National Literacy Trust, Ledbury Poetry Festival and Writing West Midlands, and is a former Director of the Voices Off programme at Cheltenham Literature Festival. Sara-Jane was a finalist in the 2021 Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition and longlisted for The Plough International Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in anthologies, most recently Tools Of The Trade: Poems For New Doctors published by The Scottish Poetry Library. Sara-Jane is Writer-in-Residence for Herefordshire’s site-specific theatre company Feral Productions.

Steve Pottinger (Joint 2nd Prize)

Steve Pottinger is a founding member of Wolverhampton arts collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. He’s an engaging and accomplished performer who has performed the length and breadth of the country, and his work regularly appears online in CultureMatters and the Morning Star. His sixth volume of poems, ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ published by Ignite Books, is out now. His website is at 

Judge: Philip Gross

Photo credit: Stephen Morris

Philip Gross has published 25 collections, for adults and for young people, over 40 years of publication; his latest, The Thirteenth Angel (Bloodaxe, 2022), a PBS Recommendation, is shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. He won the T.S. Eliot in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator, e.g. with Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018), with scientists on the young people’s collection Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018) and with artist Valerie Coffin Price and Welsh-language poet Cyril Jones on Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021).


About Janet Rogerson

Janet Rogerson
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