Poetry London 2018 Competition

Poetry London’s 2018 competition is now closed. Judge Kwame Dawes is reviewing entries. Winners will be notified by 16 July 2018; the first, second and third prizewinners will be published in the Autumn 2018 issue of Poetry London and on our website. The prizes will be awarded at our Autumn launch reading in London in October.

The distinguished poet Kwame Dawes is the judge of its new 2018 Poetry London Clore Prize. He is the author or twenty-one books of poetry, and numerous other works of fiction, criticism and essays. His most recent collection, City of Bones: A Testament appeared from Northwestern University Press in 2017.

His awards include the Forward Prize, The Musgrave Silver Medal, several Pushcart Prizes, The Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, and an Emmy. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, Associate Poetry Editor for Peepal Tree Books, and Director of the African Poetry Book Fund. He also serves as Chancellor Professor of English at the University of Nebraska.

The closing date for the 2018 competition was 1 May 2018.

“Why read Kwame Dawes? Because he knows how to ‘listen for the calm voice of God.’ Because he will show you how to grieve and not be torn open… Because Dawes is the poet to read when ‘all talking / is over’ and you sit alone in this room.”Ilya Kaminsky

Competition Rules

1. Entries must be in English, your own unaided work, and not a translation of another poet. Entries must not have been previously published or self-published, in print or online, or have won a prize in another competition. The maximum length is 80 lines.

2. Your name and address must not appear on the poems entered, nor any other marks that could identify you.

3. Entries must be typed or written clearly in black on white A4 paper or us letter size.

4. Each poem must start on a new page. They will be judged separately on their own merits.

5. You may enter as many poems as you wish, accompanied by the appropriate entry fee. For Poetry London subscribers the entry fee is £3 per poem; for non-subscribers £7. You are also eligible for the lower entry fee if you take out a subscription now: see form for details.

6. The closing date is 1 May 2018. Winners will be notified by 16 July 2018; the first, second and third prizewinners will be published in the Autumn 2018 issue of Poetry London and on the magazine’s website. The prizes will be awarded at our Autumn launch reading in London in September (date to be confirmed). Copyright remains with the authors, but we reserve the right to publish the winning poems.

7. The results will be published on our website by 16 July 2018.

8. We will not enter into any correspondence about entries, or make changes to entries received. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. The judge’s decision is final. Your entry in the competition means you accept these rules. We will abide by good practice in the running of this competition, but cannot be held responsible for circumstances beyond our control. Should the named judge be unable to proceed, we aim to find an alternative judge of equivalent standing as a poet. Prizes may be withheld or altered if we receive no outstanding poems, or insufficient entries.

Competition Entry Form

Fill out my online form.


Have a question about the Poetry London Competition? Here are our answers to the most common queries. If your question remains unanswered please contact us and we’ll try to help!

Must entries be unpublished?
Yes. Poems that have already been published are not eligible to win the Poetry London Competition.

Does having a poem on my own blog, Twitter or Facebook page count as website publication?

Do line spaces between stanzas count as part of the 80 line limit? What about titles, epigraphs and dedications?
The 80 line limit applies only to the written lines of the poem, not the lines between stanzas. Titles, epigraphs and dedications are not counted as lines either.

If my poem is a few more than 80 lines, will it be disqualified?
Yes. Poems must be within the 80-line limit to be eligible for the Poetry London Competition.

Can I make changes after my poem has been submitted?
Changes cannot be made to poems after they have been submitted. If you want to submit a more recent version of your poem please send it as a separate entry.

I accidentally left my name or contact details on my entry, will my poem be disqualified?
Yes. You will need to resubmit your entry (refunds cannot be made).

Are simultaneous submissions allowed?
You may submit your poem to other competitions or publications at the same time you submit it to the Poetry London Competition on the understanding that if you win our competition you will immediately withdraw it from elsewhere. If your poem wins another competition or is published before our winners have been announced please let us know (refunds will not be made).

How will you know which poems are mine if I don’t write my name on them?
Poems are coded by administrative staff so that they can be judged as anonymous works and then tied back to your entry form once the poems have been judged.

Can I send the same poem that I entered in last year’s competition?

Can I enter a revision of my first poem as a second entry?

I accidentally submitted the wrong poem. Can I switch it?
No. The rules state that alterations cannot be made to poems once they have been submitted. If you want the judges to consider another poem, please send it as a new entry.

Can you check you received my poem?
If you want confirmation of a postal entry please include an SAE with your poem and entry form, which we will post back to you. Online entries will be confirmed by email after you submit. Please do not telephone the office or email to ask if your entry has arrived unless you have not received automatic confirmation by email or your SAE (please allow a reasonable amount of time before chasing SAEs as entries are processed in batches).

Can you check that the poem I entered is the one I intended to enter?
The competition generally receives thousands of poems each year and staff cannot go through these to find a specific entrant’s work.

Since entering my poem to the Poetry London Competition my poem has won another competition / been published elsewhere. What should I do?
Please contact us to let us know and withdraw your poems (refunds cannot be made).

My poems have been uploaded and are ready to be submitted. How do I pay?
Once you have completed all of the required sections of the form and uploaded your poems, click the ‘Submit’ button and you will then be able to pay for your entry and complete the submission process.

As a subscriber to the magazine entering online, how do I take advantage of the reduced entry fee?
Just check the ‘Subscriber’ box on the entry form, and calculate your total according to the reduced rate of £3 per poem.

I am not currently a subscriber but would like to subscribe now, to take advantage of the reduced entry fee. What should I do?
You can subscribe at the same time as submitting your entry. Just check the ‘I would like to subscribe now’ box on the entry form and then select the type of subscription you would like to take out. You can then calculate your total according to the reduced rate of £3 per poem.

I am entering online. Do I need an entry form / to post you anything?
As you go through the online entry process the website will ask you for all of the information we will need in the event that your poem wins (name, address, telephone number etc.). There is no need to submit a postal entry form at the same time. Please do not enter the same poems online and by post, or send postal copies of entries made online – this is unnecessary and leads to confusion.

Why aren’t there any identifying marks on the poem preview?
These will be added later. A simple code is added to the poem so that the winner can be identified.

How will I receive confirmation that my entry has been submitted?
Once your payment has gone through, you will be sent a confirmation email.

I sent my postal entry very close to the deadline. What if it doesn’t reach you in time?
Entries postmarked on the date of the deadline will be accepted.

I am entering by post and plan to send a cheque. Can I pay in my own nation’s currency, or does it have to be in sterling?
Payments must be made in £ sterling. Entries accompanied by payment in a currency other than £ sterling will not be accepted.

Can I pay with cash?
We do not accept payment in cash. Please do not send cash in the post. Cheques, credit/debit cards and postal orders are accepted. Cheques should be made payable to Poetry London. Entrants should write their name and phone number on the back of cheques.

Can I submit my entry by hand?
Yes, but we cannot accept poems delivered after the deadline.

My Cheque has not been cashed after a month, should I cancel it?
If you are paying by cheque, please do not stop/cancel your cheque if is not been cashed in 2 to 3 months. We process entries in batches and we are a very small team, so it can take up 5 or 6 months for us to process the cheques. If you stop or cancel the cheques, we will have to withdrawn your poems from the competition and pass on to you the bank charges for stopping/cancelling the cheque.

When will the competition winners be announced?
Competition winners will be notified by 16 July 2018, and the results will be announced on our website on this date.

Does the Poetry London Competition sift the entries before they send them to the judges?
Yes, we receive too many entries for our judge to be able to read them all. Before poems are handed over to our judge, the editors of the magazine will eliminate around two thirds of the entries. All poems that make it through this round will be seen by the judge. Every poem will be read anonymously by an experienced poetry editor, whose judging is fair and unbiased.


Poetry London is delighted to announce that this year the Poetry London Competition is generously funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation and match-funded by Catalyst Evolve, Arts Council England.