Have a question about the National Poetry Competition? See below for answers to the most common queries. If your question remains unanswered, please contact us.

Do line spaces between stanzas count as part of the 40 line limit? What about titles, epigraphs and dedications?

The forty line limit applies only to the written lines of the poem, not the lines between stanzas. Titles, epigraphs and dedications are not counted as lines either.

Can I make changes after my poem has been submitted?

Changes cannot be made to poems after they have been submitted. If you want to submit a more recent version of your poem please send it as a separate entry. Both versions will be seen by the judges.

I accidentally left my name or contact details on my entry, will my poem be disqualified?

Please contact us as soon as possible after making your entry so we can remove your contact details. If your contact details are left on your poem, this may result in your poem being disqualified.

Are simultaneous submissions allowed?

You may submit your poem to other competitions or publications at the same time you submit it to the National Poetry Competition on the understanding that if you win our competition you will immediately withdraw it from elsewhere. However, to avoid complications, we would strongly recommend you do not do this. If your poem wins another competition or is published before our winners have been announced, you’ll need to let us know as soon as possible.

How will you know which poems are mine if I don’t write my name on them?

Poems are coded by administrative staff so that they can be judged as anonymous works and then married back to your entry form once the judges have made their decision.

If my poem is a few more than 40 lines, will it be disqualified?

Yes. Poems longer than forty lines are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

Can I use a pen name?

You may, although all entries are made anonymous before they are seen by the judges. When the winners are selected we will check how they wish to be referred to when their poems are published in The Poetry Review, in press releases and on the Poetry Society website.

Must entries be unpublished?

Yes. Poems that have already been published are not eligible to win the National Poetry Competition.

Does having a poem on my own blog, Twitter or Facebook page count as website publication?


Can I send the same poem that I entered in last year’s competition?

Yes, so long as that poem hasn’t been published or placed in another competition in the intervening period.

Can I enter a revision of my first poem as a second entry?


I accidentally submitted the wrong poem. Can I switch it?

Alterations cannot be made to poems once they have been submitted. If you’d like the judges to consider another poem, please send it as a new entry.

Can you check you received my poem?

If you want confirmation of a postal entry please include an SAE with your poem and entry form, which we will post back to you. Online entries will be confirmed by email shortly after you submit. There is nothing more that Poetry Society staff can do; please do not telephone the office or email to ask if your entry has arrived unless you have not received automatic confirmation by email or your SAE (please allow a reasonable amount of time before chasing SAEs as entries are processed in batches).

Can you check that the poem I entered is the one I intended to enter?

The competition generally receives over ten thousand poems each year, which means we won’t be able to go through and check work once submitted.

Since entering my poem to the National Poetry Competition my poem has won another competition / been published elsewhere. What should I do?

Congratulations! You’ll need to contact us to let us know your poem has found a home, so we can withdraw your entry from the competition. Please be aware that refunds cannot be made for withdrawn entries.

Reading the poems that have previously won or been commended in the competition, I notice a lack of established poetic forms (sonnets, villanelle, roundel etc.) represented – why is this?

Of the large number of poems that are entered into the competition, a very, very small fraction of them are written strictly in an established form. However, the competition welcomes all entries, whatever their structure, form or rhyme scheme.

When will the competition winners be announced?

Competition winners are usually announced in the spring. Please check back to the website once the competition has closed for further details / specific dates.

Some competitions sift the entries before they send them to the judges. Will the judges of the National Poetry Competition definitely see my poem?

Yes. Unlike many poetry competitions, we do not implement an elimination round. The judges on the panel read all entries submitted into the competition.

My poems have been uploaded and are ready to be submitted. How do I pay?

Once you have submitted your first poem (click ‘Submit Poem’ at the bottom of the page – you may have to scroll down to see this), you will have the option to first see a preview of the poem(s), and then pay for your entry. Please take care at the preview stage of the process to check that your poem is as you would like it to be, as you will not be able to edit your work once it has been submitted.

I have already entered once, paying £7. Does this mean I can enter again paying only £4?

You must enter your poems in one transaction if you want to take advantage of the cheaper price for additional poems. The first poem in each paid-for entry will always cost £7, so it’s best to submit and pay for all your poems in one go to get the best price. 

As a member entering online, how do I take advantage of the free entry (second poem)?

You must use this at the same time as you submit your first entry. If you submit a second poem in that same entry, that second poem will be free. Please note that if you have already paid for an entry and wish to submit more poems, you’ll need to start a new entry, the first poem of which will cost £7.

I am entering online. Do I need an entry form / to post you anything?

We’ll get all the contact information we need from your online entry -so if you’re entering online, please don’t send us anything in the post. 

Why aren’t there any identifying marks on the poem preview?

Once your poem has been submitted and paid for, a simple code is added to it so that the winners can be identified.

Can I enter by post?

Because the team at The Poetry Society are currently working from home, we strongly recommend that you enter online in 2020. If you are unable to do so or are having trouble using the online entry system, you can contact us as [email protected] and we’ll do our best to help.

How will I receive confirmation that my entry has been submitted?

Once your payment has gone through, you will be sent a receipt via email from your chosen payment method. This indicates that you have successfully entered the National Poetry Competition.