2019 International Poetry Competition

£1000 first prize for a single poem

Guest Judge: Zaffar Kunial


Ouroboros, Ella Duffy

Highly Commended

A cure for Rosesickness, Hilaire

Tutankhamun's Perfume, James O’Hara-Knight

For an Unknown Migrant, E. E. Jones


Starfish, Matt Riker

Two thousand and ninety-nine, Doreen Hinchliffe

Barbecues, Rebecca Watts

This is how it will work, Mark Fiddes

The Hospice Planet,Andrew George

Tired, Karen Morash

A Five Stage Guide to Processing Firewood,Bill Bradford

Sehnsucht, Laura Theis

Catherine the Great Reassesses Her Expansionist Policies, Tania Hershman

Coming of Age, Matthew McDermott

The new kids inside the old block, Marie-Louise Eyres

Pheasant Plucker, Benjamin Cusden

Locarno, Matthew Paul

We are not ashamed of our Buckshee life, Jane Burn

Seasaw, Aileen La Tourette

Keep calm and cross off, Steph Morris

The Election That Everyone Lost, Graham Turner



My Mother Climbing a Tree, 1955, Jonathan Edwards

You Have No Idea What I’m Saying, Catherine Edmunds

That Feeling When Friends and Family in the Pacific Northwest Complain of a Smoky Dystopia Because California is on Fire, Matt Hohner

Home is where it gets dark, Jackson

Icicle Symphony, Helen Grant

Windy Day With Princesses, Sarah Diamond

Middle C, Sharon Black

the blackout, S. K. Grout

After the Odyssey, Caroline Hammond

Hikikomori, Konstandinos Mahoney

Saudade Rumba, Jed Myers

View from Llandudno, Terry Quinn

Echoes of Empire, Claire Temple

Postcards from your shoulder, Joanna Wyld

Blue Monday, Sarah Barr

hi-fi, Henry St Leger

Uranium Mine at Shinkolobwe, Belgian Congo, Lauren Delapenha

Earth’s Change, Geraldine Clarkson

Dear Mother You’re Dying, Aaron Kent

New Cross Evensong,Robin Houghton

Fragments, Antony Mair

Frogs, Tabitha Hayward

Damp in the basement, Estelle Price

As If, Jack Bigglestone

A Short History of the Western World in Fleece,Heidi Beck

For the Love of Roland Barthes, Chiara Naomi

Staying Under, Jo Brandon

Cannibal Tom in Sydney, Angela Gardner

The River God Waits, Alan Dunnett


Previous winners include: Tessa Foley, Lesley Saunders, Kirsten Irving, Andrew McMillan, Inua Ellams, Lesley Saunders, Sophie Fenella, Aisleen la Tourette, Jon Stone.
Previous judges include: Glyn Maxwell, Liz Berry, Lorraine Mariner, Barney Norris, Antony Dunn, Clare Pollard

Here is the winning entry from 2018, Jon Stone's 'The Lookout'. .


We are absolutely honoured that Zaffar Kunial will be our guest judge this year.  Zaffar was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in 2018 for 'Us'. 

Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and lives in Hebden Bridge. He published a pamphlet in the Faber New Poets series in 2014 and spent that year as the Wordsworth Trust Poet-in-Residence. Since his first public reading, of 'Hill Speak' at the 2011 National Poetry Competition awards, he has spoken at various literature festivals and in programmes for BBC radio, and won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for his poem 'The Word'.

'Zaffar Kunial is a poet whose work thrills me, who makes you return to the origins of things, places, language and people again and again. He's a poet who takes traditions seriously but makes of them something entirely new - a must.' (Jackie Kay)

'Us by Zaffar Kunial abounds with poems which are witty, playful and heart-breaking by turns. Drawn to the place where things don't quite meet, which he describes as "a kind of abysmal underneathness/or usness/under the heights of language", his is a wondrous poetic of loopholes, portals and translations, and of the magic in-between'. (Sinead Morrissey Chair of the T. S. Eliot Prize judges)

Order the 2019 anthology from our store here:  http://www.livecanon.co.uk/store/product/2019-anthology

Watch here some of the winning poems, from 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015...