Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition 2021

Ledbury Poetry Festival 2021 Poetry Competition has a great first prize of £1000 cash. The competition has been an important first step in many poets’ careers, and has categories for Adults, Young People and Children. In addition to cash prizes, winners of all categories are invited to read their poems at the internationally renowned Ledbury Poetry Festival 2022.

 Anthony Anaxagoro

Anthony Anaxagorou
Credit: Alessandro Furchino Capria

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize. It was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year. In 2020 he published How To Write It with Merky Books; a practical guide to writing fused with tips and memoir. Among awards such as the H-100 Award (2019), Anthony is an honorary fellow of the University of Roehampton, Artistic Director of Out-Spoken, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press.

Closing Date: 5pm BST on Thursday 15 July 2021


Adult – 18 years or older

First Prize: £1000 cash
Second Prize: £500
Third Prize: £250

Young Person – 12 to 17 years old

Young People winners receive smaller cash prizes,

Child – under 12 years old

Child winners receive book tokens.

All winners are invited to read at the 2022 Poetry Festival.

The Poetry Competition has now closed

Competition Rules

  1. Poems must be received on or before Thursday 15th July 2021 at 5pm British Summer Time.
  2. All poems must be the original work of the entrant and should not have been previously published, broadcasted, or accepted for publication by a magazine.
  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 online.  If entering online, each poem must be on a separate page in your document.
  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.

Stuck for ideas?

Transcripts of LPF poetry workshops packed with warm up writing exercises and prompts

Resource page for Young Writers

2020’s Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition

JUDGE: Liz Berry was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto 2014), described as a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’ (Guardian) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Her pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018.

Liz is a patron of Writing West Midlands and works as a tutor for organisations including the Arvon Foundation and The Poetry School.

Picture credit Lee Allen.


First Prize has been won by Kim Moore for her poem “All Night A Bird”. Judge Liz Berry said “this poem had my heart in my throat”, calling the poem “beautifully haunting, deeply unsettling”. Kim Moore wins £1000 alongside a residential course at Ty Newydd Writing Centre and an invitation to read at the competition winners’ event in the 2021 Festival.

About Kim Moore: Kim Moore’s first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves won the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition in 2011. Her first full-length collection The Art of Falling was published by Seren in 2015 and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and her second collection All The Men I Never Married will be published by Seren in 2021.

Of her win, Kim says “I am writing this still not quite believing that I’ve won! It’s even more special that it’s the Ledbury Poetry Competition because the Festival is so close to my heart, and has been so important to me over the years in my development as a poet. “


Second Prize goes to Kizziah Burton, far right, from Texas USA, with her poem “Cist”, and Third Prize to UK poet Felicity Sheehy, right,  with “The Shapeshifter’s Wife”. Kizziah and Felicity win £500 and £250 respectively, and are also invited to read at the winners’ event in 2021.

About Kizzíah Burton:

Kizzíah Burton’s poems have been shortlisted and longlisted in various places, such as The
Sappho Prize for Women Poets 2020; The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition;
NIMROD International – Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize; San Miguel de Allende Writer’s Conference & Lit Honorable Mentions; Women’s Poetry Competition 2018 sponsored by The Poetry Book Society/mslexia–poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Dufy selected two of her poems. A recipient of awards from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation for three years and a travel grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, Burton is graduate fellow of The University of Southern California, Los Angeles

“Thank you for your warm and enthusiastic phone call this morning on behalf of the competition.
It was like getting a call from a mythical place. I am so moved by the award and your words from Liz Berry. Liz Berry’s work, her excellence, has been a source of strength and light. Her recognition holds important and personal meaning for me. As does the communion of Ledbury and its celebration of poetry and support to poets world wide. Thank you dearly with all my heart for this award.”

About Felicity Sheehy:

Felicity Sheehy’s poems have appeared in The New Republic, The Yale Review, Narrative, Poetry Ireland Review, The Adroit Journal, Poet Lore, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. She has received an Academy of American Poets Prize, scholarships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and the Jane Martin Prize. She has received additional prizes and support from Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, the York Poetry Prize, and the Limerick Writers’ Centre. In 2019 and 2020, she was listed as one of Narrative’s 30 below 30 emerging writers. Comments on winning: I’m honoured and thrilled to be recognised in this contest!

Adult Highly Commended: Shipping Forecast for the Sea of Trees by Stevie Ronnie; After Elizabeth Bishop by Grace MacNair

Ledbury also has categories for young people and children. Liz Berry found the Young People’s Poetry “accomplished, deeply moving and zinging with life”.


The Young People category winners are: First Prize: Sarah Mohammed, left,; Second Prize: Irma Kiss Barath, centre; Third Prize: Jessica Yu, right. All three poets are from North America: Sarah is from the US, and Irma and Jessica are from Canada. We look forward to hearing them read at the winners’ event.

Young People Highly Commended: 

Softness by Miles Rafael Bairley-Ujueta; A Burning Sun Has No Language by Ife Olatona; Dear Mama by Nikita Bhardwaj

Children’s Prizes

Liz Berry says: Dear very-young-poets, your poems were a joy! I loved your ideas, your pictures, your playfulness and light. I read your poems with my two little boys and they made us laugh and say ‘wow’ and want to write our own poems. We all thought your work was brilliant – keep going!

First Prize: £25 book token and a reading at the 2021 Festival: Josephine Mahmood “The Snowy Owl’s Screech”
Second Prize: £15 book token and a reading at the 2021 Festival: Margot Holloway-Smith “The Annoying Thing About Oxes”
Third Prize: £10 book token and a reading at the 2021 Festival : Manya Kumar “The Cumulonimbus Cloud”

Josie (left) started writing poetry during lockdown because she was (like many other people) bored and out of ideas of things to do! She has also started writing a novel, called “Pitch Black”, and is currently on chapter five. She likes spending time with her cousin doing fun things such as photoshoots. She also enjoys taking her dogs on walks, gymnastics, cooking, TV and going out with her friends. Her comment on winning is: “I like writing but I’m really surprised I won!”

Margot Holloway-Smith (right) is 10 years old and lives in London. She loves to sing, dance and write. When she is older, she wants to be a photographer. “I can’t believe I came second. I’m filled to the brim with excitement. My mouth was talking slur when I found out.”


Manya Kumar, left. “My name is Manya Kumar and I am in Year7. My favourite food is Pizza. I love dancing ,singing , writing and lots of artwork. I have done many dance performances and my favourite dance form is contemporary. I love travelling with my family and friends; my favourite holiday is in Scotland where we stayed in a big cottage. I prefer writing down my thoughts in form of poetry/narratives or song. I am so proud to receive this recognition from Ledbury. It encourages me to keep writing . I look forward to meet like minded people and share experiences . Thank you so much for this award”


Children Highly Commended: Little Dragon of Water by Leo Wiseman.

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition, we hope you are encouraged to keep on writing poetry!