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No one can deny it. You've all had a go. Whether it's a full-blown attempt at a sestina, a bit of lovelorn doggerel for a Valentine card, or an enforced exercise at school, everyone has, at sometime or another, written a poem.

From now until 30 October, you have the chance to enter your work into Britain's most prestigious poetry competition, The National Poetry Competition. Now averaging more than 5,000 entries, and with total prize money of pounds 6,500, the competition has been won by both published and previously unknown poets. Jo Shapcott, Tony Harrison and Carol Ann Duffy are among those awarded prizes in the past.

This year, for the first time since its inception in 1977, the competition has a sponsor. BT has entered into a partnership with the Poetry Society, and the competition includes a further six prizes for poems about phone calls with the title "Stay in Touch".

The 1999 judges are the IoS's Ruth Padel (herself a former prize-winner in 1996), John Agard, Robert Crawford and Michael Rosen as Chair. Ruth Padel says, "There really is more interest in poetry now in Britain than ever before, this century. The National Poetry Competition is one place where the variety, quality, volume and passion comes out."

The cost of entry for the first poem submitted is pounds 5. For additional poems it is pounds 3.


The competition is open to anyone aged 18 and over. Poems must not exceed 40 lines (not including title). The closing date is Saturday 30 October 1999. Entries must be in English. The competition is open to non-UK applicants. Each poem must be given a title. All poems are judged anonymously and the name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript. Poems must not have been previously published or broadcast, and must be the original work of the author. There is no restriction on the number of poems submitted by each applicant. Each poem will be judged separately. Entries will be accepted only when accompanied by an entry form (forms may be photocopied). One entry form covers multiple entries. Competition entries cannot be returned. Poems for the National Poetry Competition may be on any subject. Poems for the BT prizes must be titled "Stay in Touch". Poems must be typed on one side only of A4 paper. Do not use staples on your manuscript. All winners will be notified on or by 31 January 2000.

For further information about the Competition, or the Poetry Society's publications and memberships, please call 0171 420 9880. Website:


Please complete this form in block capitals, attach your poems, enclose payment and send to:

The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BU

Please make cheques payable to The Poetry Society.




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