As a poet, are you able to make a living? You can get your poetry career off to a good start if you enter and win some poetry competitions.
Numerous groups all over the world give cash prizes, publication rights, and other recognition to poets and authors who impress their judges. If your goal is to have your poetry published, you should enter one of these contests for poets and writers.
Top poets and writers contests
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
There are no restrictions on age, gender, nationality, or background, making this award truly global in scope and supporting writers who have not yet published a book-length work. Prize winners in fiction, poetry, and life writing will each receive £1,000 in cash and have their work published in a print edition of Wasafiri. The work of the finalists will be published on the Wasafiri website.
Nature and Place Poetry Competition
Collaboration between the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, BirdLife International, the University of Leeds Poetry Centre, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The judge, Ian McMillan, will give a broad interpretation to the terms “nature” and “place” and will accept poems about any topic related to these themes.
North Street Book Prize
Feel free to send us your 200,000-word self-published or hybrid-published novel. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, a marketing analysis from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a one-hour phone consultation with her, a $300 credit at BookBaby, three months of Plus service from Book Award Pro ($207.50 value) and a $500 account credit, and three free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter ($525.50 value).
International Welsh Poetry Competition 2023
Poet and author Dave Lewis initiated the first annual Welsh Poetry Competition in 2007. The goal is to give a platform to a new generation of poets and writers and to encourage people to write about the world as they see it today. We’re not looking for academic literature but do hope to see a new wave of raw, passionate writing emerge from Wales.
The TRP Southern Breakthrough Series
Each state in the South has a debut full-length collection of poetry represented in the TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series. The focus state for 2017 is the Palmetto State, South Carolina. To be eligible, you must be a poet who has never before published a full-length collection of poetry and was either born in South Carolina, is currently a South Carolina resident, or has lived in South Carolina for five years straight at any point. It’s possible that the author has also written chapbooks or books in a different genre. Only submissions made through the Submittable system will be considered.
Fiction Factory Poetry Competition
While the competition is based in the UK, we encourage entries from all over the world. All poems must be no longer than 40 lines. Cost to Enter: $5 USD ($12 for 3 Poems) The grand prize consists of a constructive critique of the poems submitted by the five finalists. Winner of the shortlist will receive £100 ($125 US) in cash, along with feedback on five poems and an hour of mentorship. Poetry judging via Zoom call with the judge.
Sustainable Arts Foundation
Poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers with children can compete for up to 20 annual $5,000 awards. Any author who has a child younger than 18 is welcome to apply. Send no more than 10 poems totaling no more than 15 pages, or no more than 15 pages of prose, plus an artist statement of up to 500 words and $20 by February 24 using only the online submission system. For full instructions, please see the online posting.
Each year, a single work of fiction or nonfiction by an emerging writer is awarded $5,000 and published in Chautauqua if it demonstrates “daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder readers’ imaginations.” The chosen individual will also be invited to speak at the Chautauqua Institution during the summer of 2023. Authors must not have released a book longer than 15,000 words (or 100 pages) in any prose genre. All submissions must be original and must not have been published prior to April 2022. Send $20 and a manuscript of up to 100 pages (and no more than 15,000 words) by February 28. For full instructions, please see the online posting.
An annual award for a first or second poetry collection is made, consisting of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 20 author copies. The judge is Sawako Nakayasu. Enter by February 28 with a $35 entry fee and a manuscript of 40–120 pages via the online submission system. All the rules and regulations can be found online.
Every year, one poetry chapbook is awarded $1,000, along with publication by Tupelo Press and 25 author copies. To enter, please submit a 20-36 page manuscript along with $25 by February 28. Submissions are reviewed for possible publication. For full instructions, please refer to the online portal.
Each year, two Indigenous poets will receive $1,000 and have a poem published in Poetry Northwest. All expenses paid trip to read with the judge in the fall of 2023 is also included for the winners. Eligible applicants are authors who are members of federally recognized tribal nations in the United States or its territories and have not published more than one full-length book. Heid E. Erdrich will be the arbiter. Send up to three poems of any length via the online submission system by February 28. There is no filtering of submissions before publication. There is zero admission cost. You can find full instructions online.
Virginia Commonwealth University
There is an annual award of at least $3,000 given for a first book published in the previous calendar year. When the First Novelist Award ceremony takes place at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the fall of 2023, the university will pay for the winner’s lodging and transportation costs as well as those of two additional guest panelists (typically the winner’s agent and editor). The jury will consist of VCU professors and MFA candidates. The deadline for submitting a 2022 publication is December 30 and requires one digital copy and five hard copies of the book. There is no admission fee.
Anisfield-Wolf Books Awards
For a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) released in the previous year and “that contribute to our awareness of racism and our respect of cultural variety,” three to four prizes of $10,000 each are granted each year. There is also an award for lifetime achievement. Among the judges are Rita Dove, Simon Schama, Steven Pinker, Joyce Carol Oates, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. The deadline for sending five copies of a book published in 2022 is December 31. You can drop by without paying anything.
The Derek Walcott Poetry Prize
Poets must submit their entire bodies of work alongside a submission form and a $20 registration fee.
This is a new poetry competition offering a grand prize of $1,000 to the author of the best poetry collection written in English, provided that the author is not a U.S. citizen. The winning playwright will also be invited to read at the Boston Playwrights Theater. Submission of a full poetry collection, along with an entry form and a $20 entry fee, can be made on the Arrowsmith Press website. Disqualified, huh? More writing and poetry competitions can be found in the links below.
Autumn House Poetry Contest
Every year around the middle of the year, Autumn House Press hosts a poetry contest. A full-length poetry manuscript and $2,500 are up for grabs in this contest. If you’re a writer, you should enter this competition because even if you don’t win, your work may still be published if you’re one of the finalists.
It costs $30 to enter, and the publisher strongly discourages you from including any visuals. Poems must be brand new, never before published works, and always start on a fresh page.
Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award
Poets & Writers gives away two $500 cash prizes annually to a poet and a fiction writer from a single state; in 2022, that state will be Nebraska for the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. The winning author will also spend a month at the Jentel Artist Residency Program, where they will be able to meet and interact with other writers, editors, agents, and publishers.
There should be between seven and ten pages of poetry submitted. People can participate without paying anything. Keep reading for details on additional writing competitions.
Poetry Society of Virginia Student Contests
Teen poets from across the Commonwealth can enter a contest organized by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Each student can submit one anonymous poem and compete with other poets their age.
Poems submitted to this contest must be 35 lines or less. All grade levels have first, second, and third place prizes. Poems selected as winners may also be published.
Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize
Utica College hosts an annual poetry contest, named after the late poet Eugene Paul Nassar. The winner receives $2,000 in cash and the opportunity to give a reading and lecture at the university.
This competition requires an entry form, a CV detailing the author’s previous work, and two copies of the full poetry collection. No submissions will be accepted that are shorter than 48 pages. No money is required to participate in this contest.
The Pushcart Prize
The fact that this competition isn’t limited to poetry alone makes it special. Instead, previously published works of poetry, short fiction, essays, memoirs, and chapters from novels that stand on their own are eligible for nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Works that are selected for publication in the Pushcart Prize anthology are published in the annual literary magazine of the same name.
There is no entry process for the Pushcart Prize. In its place, it invites editors from periodicals and independent publishing houses to nominate up to six works per year for possible inclusion.
Wisconsin Institute For Creative Writing Fellowships
At the UW-Madison campus, the university gives a Creative Writing Fellowship to at least five authors annually. There is no cash award, but the winner will receive a stipend of at least $39,000 to put toward their education.
Poets and other writers of fiction working on their first or second books are encouraged to apply for the fellowship. Poems may be up to ten pages long, and a $50 entry fee is required. Applicants are also required to supply two references.
The Airlie Prize is given annually by Airlie Press to honor a book of poetry. Press editors will be the judges, and the winner will receive $1,000 and exposure in the press.
Send your 48-90 page manuscript and $25 to Arlie Press for consideration.
Are contests for writers worth entering?
From them, you learn new things. They help you get better at what you do. In doing so, you pick up valuable lessons in discipline and punctuality. It’s worth your time and money to try out a few options.
What three elements must a Poetry have?
Poetry can be distinguished from other forms of writing primarily by its unique sound, rhythm, rhyme, and structure. In a collection of poems, the first three are the most memorable when read aloud. In poetry, this last point stands out the most.
What are the most prestigious poetry contests?
It can be challenging to discover poetry competitions that are open to novice writers. However, a few notable exceptions are the Dylan Thomas International Poetry Prize, the Walt Whitman Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and the Montreal International Poetry Prize. If you submit a collection of poems rather than just one, you’ll win more money ($2,000-$10,000).
The goal of entering and winning a writing competition should not be the only consideration. They focus on developing as a writer by reading the works of others and practicing the craft repeatedly.
Finally, though, competition victories can do wonders for your resume and self-esteem.
Select the free writing competitions that most interest you, and then crack open that fresh diary entry (or blank document on your computer). Have a good time!