Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition

Entry to the 2017 Competition has now closed.

We expect the results to be announced in late October.

Fiona Sampson

Photo: Ekaterina Voskresenskaya


Fiona Sampson MBE is published in thirty-seven languages and has received international prizes in the US, India, Macedonia and Bosnia. A Fellow and Council member of the Royal Society of Literature, she’s published twenty-seven books, received the Newdigate Prize, a Cholmondeley award and numerous awards from national Arts Councils, the Society of Authors, PBS, and twice been shortlisted for both T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes.

Fiona is Professor of Poetry at the University of Roehampton, where she is the Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre and Editor of Poem. Her new books are Lyric Cousins (EUP), The Catch (Penguin) and Limestone Country (Little Toller, May 2017).

Adult Competition Prizes

Beautiful Ty Newydd

First Prize: £1000 cash and a course at Ty Newydd, the national writing centre of Wales. www.tynewydd.wales  

Ty Newydd is the national writing centre of Wales. The centre hosts an annual programme of creative writing courses and retreats for writers of all ages and abilities, both in Welsh and English. Ty Newydd, which is the last home of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, is located in Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd. The centre, which opened its doors in 1990, is run by Literature Wales, the national company for the development of literature in Wales. For more information about Ty Newydd Writers’ Centre and to see the 2017 course programme, see www.tynewydd.wales

Second Prize: £500

Third Prize: £250

All winners get to read at the 2018 Festival – if abroad there is the possibility of Skyping at the winners’ event.  Before entering please check the rules!


Praise for the Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition:

‘Winning the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2001 gave me a huge boost. I’d never won anything, and the confidence the win gave me pushed me forward, towards more poems, my first book and beyond.’ Jacob Polley, 2001 winner , and winner 2016 T.S. Eliot Award

‘The Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition is vitally important to the health of new writing in many ways: it forces people to write new poems, and to send them out into the world. It reminds us, in these tumultuous times, of the importance of heightened language in helping us to think, and it places brand-­new writing at the heart of a literary festival.’ Ian McMillan, 2015 Judge

‘It was a huge confidence boost for me when I found out I’d won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Competition. It was wonderful to get such wide readership for my winning poem “On Fishing,” and as an American, it’s doubly thrilling to win a contest in the UK, to think that my words are able to travel across an ocean and still hold meaning.’ Miller Oberman, 2016 Winner.


Poetry Competition Winners 2016!

Many thanks to the nearly 1200 entries to the 2016 Poetry Competition. Judge Imtiaz Dharker read each and every one. All poems can be read at the attachments, below.  The field was striking for its internationalism, and variety. Congratulations to the winners and you can listen to them through the podcast of the winners’ event, held on Saturday 1st July, 2017.



Miller Oberman. Photo: Jeanette Sears

First Prize: Miller Oberman, On Fishing

Miller Oberman’s first book, a collection of poems and translations titled The Unstill Ones is due out from Princeton University Press in fall 2017. A former Ruth Lilly Fellow and 92Y Discovery Prize winner, he has published poems and translations in Poetry, London Review of Books, The Nation, Boston Review, Tin House, berfrois, and Harvard Review. Miller is a teaching fellow at the University of Connecticut, and lives in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with his wife, rock singer Louisa Solomon of The Shondes.

Second Prize: Richard Evans, Icari         Third Prize: Paul Nash, August Blossom  Read the winning adult poems here

Young People 12 – 17:

First Prize: Zoe Moore For The Birds  Second Prize: Jessica Wang Diaspora Third Prize: Sarah Ang, Snow White’s Revenge    Read winning young people poems here

L-R Richard Evans, Paul Nash, Zoe Moore, Sarah Ang


Children 11 and under:

First Prize: Rafiella Chapman The Moon Second Prize: Jonah Prince On the Fence Third Prize: Laurence Guard Toppling

Read the winning children’s poems here

L-R Rafiella Chapman,  Jonah Prince and Laurence Guard

Children Winners


Adult Prizes

First Prize: £1000 cash and a course at Ty Newydd, The national writing centre of Wales. www.tynewydd.cymru
Second Prize: £500
Third Prize: £250

Young Persons’ prizes

First Prize: £100 cash
Second Prize: £50
Third Prize: £25

Children’s Prizes

First Prize: £25 book token
Second Prize: £15 book token
Third Prize: £10 book token

All winners get to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 – if abroad there is the possibility of Skyping at the winners’ event.

The Festival is very grateful to Ty Newydd the national writing centre of Wales for continuing to support this competition.


  1. Poems must have been received on or before Thursday 13th July 2017 at 5pm (British Summertime).
  2. All poems must be the original work of the entrant and should not have been previously published, accepted for publication by a magazine, nor entered in other competitions.
  3. The length of each poem must not exceed 40 lines.
  4. Each individual poem, regardless of length, must be typed on one sheet of plain A4 paper (except Children’s category, which can be handwritten). Please submit two copies of each poem – unless you enter on-line.
  5. The competitor’s name must NOT appear on the poem.
  6. All poems must be accompanied by a fully completed entry form.
  7. Please keep a copy of your poem, as manuscripts cannot be returned.
  8. Copyright remains with the author, but Ledbury Poetry Festival reserves the right to have entries performed at the Festival, on radio, TV, or stage, published on the internet, in an anthology or used for publicity purposes at any stage in the future.
  9. No acknowledgement of entry will be sent unless the competitor sends an SAE marked ‘Acknowledgement’.
  10. Competitors wishing to be informed of the results should enclose an SAE marked ‘Results’.
  11. The decision of the judge is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  12. The Festival reserves the right to withhold prizes if such an action is justified.
  13. Entries not complying with competition rules will be disqualified.
  14. The winner of the adult first prize will be expected to provide for his/her own transport arrangements in order to attend the Ty Newydd course in North Wales, regardless of whether he/she is a UK resident or not.
  15. The winner is entitled a place in a shared room accommodation on any 2017-18 course available at Ty Newydd pending availability, except for non-tutored retreats and masterclasses. However the Festival cannot accept responsibility for re-arrangements or circumstances beyond its control.