Wild Poem competition

In keeping with the Wild! theme of our 2020 festival, we are holding a contest for a poem inspired by that theme. Your poem(s) can be as unruly and untamed as you like in your take on the theme.

The winning poet will receive £200, the second £75 and the third £25.

Prizes will be awarded at a special Competition event on April 18 at the 10th Cheltenham Poetry Festival (or posted to any winner who can’t attend.) Shortlisted poets will be given a complimentary ticket to the event, and invited to read their successful poem. The winners will then be announced.

Judges: Poet Ben Ray* and Festival Founder and CEO Anna Saunders, who will read all entries anonymously.

Our sponsors for this competition are two wonderful independent shops in Cheltenham.

*Ben Ray

Ben is the 2019 New Poets Prize winner with The Poetry Business and was long-listed for the 2019 National Poetry Prize. An accomplished young poet, he comes from the Welsh borders with ‘a fresh and original poetic voice – full of wit, twists, surprises, echoes and challenges’ (Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian). His second collection ‘What I heard on the Last Cassette Player in the World‘ is released with Indigo Dreams Publishing, and he has work published with Seren Books. His third collection ‘The Kindness of the eel’ will be published with The Poetry Business in 2020.

Competition Rules

Opening: 15 November 2019 Closing : 11.59pm 29 February 2020

  • Open to all poets from anywhere in the world.
  • To maintain anonymous judging, there must be no identifying marks on any poem or title..
  • All poems must be entirely the entrant’s own work and must not have been published in print or online before the closing date of the competition.
  • All entries must be in English and no translations are permitted unless the poet has translated their own original poem.
  • Your entry should contain no more than 70 lines.
  • You may submit up to four entries, provided an entry fee is paid for each. Each poem must be in a separate file in Word or  Rich Text format.
  • Each poem must have a title for reference in judging. Each file’s name should be the title of its poem, or the first four words if the title is long.
  • Entries should be emailed after paying an entry fee and completing an entry form.
  • Do not put any identification on the work. The competition administrator will match your entry title to your email address after anonymous judging is complete.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but a poem must be withdrawn in the event of it winning a prize or publication elsewhere. Entry fees are not refundable once an entry has been received.
  • Work will not be returned, so please keep a copy.
  • We are unable to give feedback on individual entries or on the results of the competition — the judges’ decisions are final.
  • The shortlist will be emailed to all contestants by 30 March 2020 and published on this web site. Winners will be announced at the 2020 Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
  • The fee is £4 or £14 for four entries. The Early Bard lower entrance fee rate expired on 14 January.
  • Fees must be paid before entries are submitted. Once you have paid and completed your entry form and paid your entry fee(s), you will be be able to click on the link below and attach your entries to an email.

    Payment is collected by PayPal on behalf of Cheltenham Poetry Festival.
    You can pay by Credit or Debit card and do not need a Paypal account to do so.
    If you do have a PayPal account, you can use it to pay.

Your personal data will only be used in connection with the competition

Please start your entry here

Pay £4 each for 1 – 3 poems

Entry fee for 1-3 Wild poem at £4 per poem


OR Pay £14 for 4 poems

Entry fee for 4 Wild poems — £14


After paying, click here to email your poems as attachments, each poem a separate file labelled with your poem’s title.

Or use your normal email to send your poems to wildpoems@yahoo.com

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