Poetry is a popular creative outlet among all kinds of people, but attitudes to one’s own work can differ greatly. While some prefer to keep their poems private, others are keen to share their work with others.

One popular way that budding poets share their work is through entering poetry competitions.

There are many advantages to submitting your work to be judged other than the possibility of a prize; some writing competitions offer feedback on your work, regardless of how far you get in the competition, and some organisations may publish entrants’ work in an anthology or poetry collection – so you might even get spotted!

Whatever your motives for entering your work into a poetry competition, whether you have one poem you’re particularly proud of, or you simply want to share your work with the general public, entering a competition is a great way to get to know the world of poetry in a new way, one which will boost your self-esteem both in general and as a poet.

It may surprise you to know that the world of poetry competitions is diverse in several aspects.

Some competitions involve writing poetry around a certain theme, while others impose a word limit, a certain rhyme scheme or a particular form such as a haiku, however, you don’t even have to be a poet yourself, as there are also poetry recitation competitions to choose from.

If you’re looking for information on the different types of poetry competitions, or you’d like to find a competition to enter, you’ve come to the right place!

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How to Find Poetry Writing Contests to Enter

Once you’ve written a poem you’re proud of, entering it into a competition is often the next big step – but where do you find out about poetry contests?

Nowadays, the internet is the first port of call when looking for anything. There are many poetry websites that offer information on competitions, including entry requirements and fees as well as submission deadlines.

There are hundreds of poetry competitions to enter online
Find a poem writing competition to suit you ¦ source: Pixabay - cromaconceptovisual

Poetry Ireland is your one-stop shop for any literature competitions occurring around the country. Many of these competitions are local, but some extend to include participants from all across the island. It’s important to bear in mind that their level of exposure will attract lots of entrants, so don’t be disheartened if your poem doesn't place.

If you’re just finding your feet as a new poet, or you’d like to get used to the format of poetry competitions, you might prefer to enter smaller competitions first.

Many smaller poetry competitions are held within communities, sometimes by Rotary Clubs, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled in your local press!

Poetry competitions outside school

Having poetry as one of the main topics for examination as part of the leaving cert English curriculum is both a blessing and a curse. What do I mean when I say this? Having poetry as a compulsory element of your second-level education means that all students will have to engage with the topic and learn more about the life and subject matter of some of the world's most decorated poets.

The downside to this is that poetry is often looked at as another thing for students to learn off in the hope of improving their overall grades in the final exams. Poetry is so much more than this, and therefore participating in competitions and events outside of the classroom can work wonders for improving tour attitude towards the subject.

By signing up and participating in poetry competitions both in-person and online you will develop your ability to write and appreciate poetry and the various techniques which make it all the more interesting and pleasant to read. Opting to try your hand at a poetry competition will dramatically improve your confidence as a writer and will it will show in your work!

Join a club or society at college

Regardless of what you are studying at university, you should keep an eye out around your campus for any poetry or English clubs & societies.

Joining the poetry society is a great way to meet students with similar interests as well as other recreational clubs, this is a great opportunity to socialise and make great friends on campus. There is certainly no shortage of student life on the vibrant campuses scattered around the country.

Not only are these clubs a great way for college students to get involved in and engage with student life from the beginning of their college experience, but they will also present an extensive array of events each year for its members to participate in.

Many of these poetry and English societies host open poetry competitions throughout the year. These competitions are open to anybody interested in poetry and are extremely assessable and inclusive.

This is a great opportunity for those who may just be starting on their creative journeys as these competitions are both easy to enter and are less competitive than other events available online.

It's important to take baby steps in building up your confidence writhing poetry, and your college poetry society might have exactly what you're looking for!

The Irish Writers Centre

The Irish Writes Centre is just one of the many places where aspiring writers can go to explore and practice their poetry. Here you will find a pool of talented creators to meet and collaborate within a social setting. There are often many events organised throughout the year such as poetry competitions. Maybe the competition might just give you the kick you need!

The Irish Writers Centre is the national resource centre for Irish literature, supporting writers across the island. Located in the heart of Dublin’s cultural quarter, the Irish Writers Centre connects writers and readers throughout Ireland and abroad through professional training, bursaries, residencies, information, creative writing courses, networking opportunities, and regular events.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish Writers Centre has made its resources digitally available and now offers online writing courses and information sessions. The Irish Writers Centre continues to work diligently in creating an inclusive community for writers of all genres, abilities and backgrounds to participate in our activities.

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Entering a Magazine Poem Competition

It can be thrilling to see your own poetry published online or in print, and this is exactly why entering poetry competitions that are attached to a poetry magazine or blog in some way can give you the boost you need to persevere with your work.

Unlike many competitions, which only promise cash prizes for first, second and third place (as well as some other goodies thrown in), some organisations also offer to publish a selection of work from non-placing entrants.

Not only will the possibility of having your work featured in a competition anthology increase your chances of success in your poetry, but it will also give you an incentive other than the main prize to focus on.

So, which competitions offer this chance to contestants?

  • Ireland's working-class writing archive

Working-class communities have been writing poetry and stories long before our writers became part of the mainstream Irish literary landscape.

The working-class writing archive collects this work and displays it on an accessible online archive. The archive is funded by the Arts Council and supported by Poetry Ireland. The website will be arranged like a map of Dublin showing the literary legacy and output of different areas.

This is a great opportunity for Irish writers of all ages and abilities to have some of their work published and show off all their hard work to their friends, family, and the extended Irish literary community.

Poetry Ireland Review

Poetry Ireland Review is another outlet that writers have to showcase some of the poems that they have been working on. There are three issues published each year and applications are accepted throughout the year. This makes the competitions ideal for students as they will also have the opportunity to make their poetry submissions through the holiday period so that their study timetable remains uninterrupted!

Poetry Ireland welcomes unsolicited submissions of poems, and proposals for articles and reviews, from Ireland and abroad, in Irish or English. They also encourage more submissions from women and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, who are currently under-represented in the submissions we receive throughout the year.

All you have to do is a simple Google search and you’ll come across thousands of poetry competitions to enter. The world of poetry is vast and diverse, and the types of competitions available reflect this, however, there are several poetry competitions that carry a certain type of prestige.

The most prestigious creative writing contests are often the ones that are most widely known and respected. For instance, 500 words, which is run by BBC Radio 2, has gained lots of exposure (and therefore respect) through being discussed on-air.

There are many kinds of prizes for poetry competitions
Who knows? Your work could be published in an anthology ¦ source: Pixabay - Pexels

Of course, entering a widely-known competition means that your chances of success are significantly slimmer, however, this makes a potential victory all the more appealing!

Here are some of the most highly-respected poetry competitions in Ireland:

Dodging the Rain Submission Call

Dodging The Rain is an art and literary journal committed to representing a variety of new work by emerging writers and artists. It provides an internet platform that showcases writers and artists worldwide. It is published on the first of each month with a standing submission deadline of the 18th.

Its editorial team welcomes all genres of literature and art and rejects any work promoting intolerance, hatred or fear. Contributors maintain ownership of and the right to republish their content. This competition provides an exciting opportunity for young poets to get the exposure they deserve and hosts some stiff competition each year.

  • Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is an annual contest open to all emerging poets between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. This award is by far the most famous and most prestigious poetry award for young writers. Poems can be on any topic, and there is no entry fee!

  • Crossways

Crossways publishes both literary poetry and short fiction. They welcome submissions from new and established authors, anywhere in the world, as long as they are writing in English. Because they are based in Ireland, they have a particular interest in writing connected to the country. They are always open to submissions.

  • Bath Magg

Bath Magg also run their poetry competitions three times a year and gives applicants the chance to have some of their work featured in their publications. The competition has no restriction on theme or length but for long poems or sequences no more than three A4 pages is suggested.

This gives writers complete freedom in the work that they submit and makes the entries all the more personal and fascinating to read. The magazine aims to respond to all submissions within four weeks from the close of the submission window so you'll soon find out exactly how you did!

Have a Go at Poetry Reading

For those who are less passionate about writing poems and, instead, simply enjoy reading others’ work, poetry recitation competitions are a fantastic way to get stuck into the world of poetry whilst getting to grips with the fine details of individual poems as you learn to perform them aloud before an audience.

Reading poetry is a performance
Poetry recitation is an entirely separate skill to poetry writing ¦ source: Pixabay - StockSnap

Poetry recitation competitions are different from poetry writing contests in that they tend to be smaller-scale. This is because entrants are required to travel to a performance venue on the day of the poetry contest – something that is not necessary when submitting a piece of work.

For this reason, you’ll likely find that such contests run on a community or regional level. However, there are some, such as Poetry by Heart, which takes place on a much larger scale and allows video submissions of poetry recitals.

What is a Poetry Slam?

For those who enjoy creating their own poetry as much as they love reciting it, there is a genre of poetry competition called the ‘poetry slam’.

Poetry slams are competitions in which contestants must perform spoken word poetry against one another, usually on a specific theme chosen on the evening, and are scored by a panel of judges.

Competitions of this type are found in all kinds of places; you might see some at festivals, or as standalone events in the trendy corners of your nearest city.

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Evidently, there are quite a few reasons why you should consider brushing up on your poetry writing and comprehension skills. If you've never tried writing poetry before then why not give it a go? At the very least it will help you to jump up a few grades in your English exam!

If you are looking to improve your skills before entering that poetry competition, there is an abundance of both core and supplementary resources available to students poetry either as a hobby or as part of the leaving cert program. Despite having access to this material it is still rather extensive and may prove difficult for students to fully comprehend.

This is often the case for students, particularly in situations where time is constrained such as in the final months of the leaving cert English course.

Now that you have somewhat of a roadmap of how to go about developing your poetry skills in Ireland and where you can enter competitions to showcase all of your hard work you might want to consider finding a tutor to help you in your learning.

Getting a tutor to help you with your poetry can also prove to be a valuable resource when preparing for an exam, many Superprof tutors have worked with thousands of students in the past. This means that they will be able to assist you not just with your poetry, but also your exam preparations, introducing tactics for the final exam so that you can maximise your grade on the day.

Superprof is a community that comprises millions of tutors around the world. Here, students can choose from a library of available tutors that operate in their preferred location and maximise their grades in the subject.

With many tutors that list their services on the site, students will have the option to arrange a trial tutoring session with their preferred tutor free of charge. This gives students the opportunity to select a tutor based on their respective preferred style of learning.

Superprof also provides students with the option to work from the comfort of their own home, the home of the tutor or alternatively, on a remote basis via webcam. This degree of choice enables students to target their specific weaknesses with poetry in a manner that best suits them.

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Samuel

I enjoy reading fiction, playing chess, live music and traveling.