Press release: 16 April 2009
The National Poetry Competition 2009 Open for Entries

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 thirty-second 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, and 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 and on the Poetry Society's Website, and get the chance to read their winning poem at the Ledbury Poetry Festival - 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 andenergy, 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 areon 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.

- Ends -

Notes to editors

  •  The Poetry Society is this year celebrating its Centenary Year with a host of events to celebrate 100 years as the nation’s leading champions of verse. Founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has 3500 members around the world, publishes the leading poetry magazine Poetry Review, and has an extensive events and education programme. ‘The Poetry Society is the heart and hands of poetry in the UK – a centre which pours out energy to all parts of the poetry-body, and a dexterous set of operations which arrange and organise poetry’s various manifestations. It has a long and distinguished history, and has never been so vital, or so vitalising, as it is now.’ Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate. To find out more visit
  • 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.
  • Neil Rollinson has published three collections of poetry: A Spillage of Mercury (1996), Spanish Fly (2001) and Demolition (2007), all published by Jonathan Cape, and winning P.B.S. recommendations. In 1997 he won the National Poetry  competition. He is currently working with 57 Productions developing a 'Poetry Jukebox' and a series of virtual online creative writing workshops.
  • Ruth Padel is a prize-winning poet, Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, and first Resident Writer at Somerset House, London. Her poetry collections include Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, Voodoo Shop, The Soho Leopard, all shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the newly published ‘Darwin a Life in Poems’. She has also published two much-loved books on reading contemporary poetry, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem and The Poem and the Journey, and a highly acclaimed nature book, Tigers in Red Weather, shortlisted in the US for the Kiriyama Prize.
  • Daljit Nagra was born and raised in West London and Sheffield. He comes from a Sikh Punjabi background and his poems reflect this experience both in their content and their innovative blend of Punjabi and English. His poem Look We Have Coming to Dover! won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2004 and became the title poem for his first collection which won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and was nominated for several prizes such as The Costa Poetry Award and the Guardian First Book Award. To Enter Download an entry form at Or send a stamped addressed envelope to: Competition Organiser (PR) 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX. Deadline for Entries : October 31st 2009


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