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10 Paid Poetry Contests (And How to Enter Your Poem to Win!)

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Are you a budding poet looking for a platform to showcase your talent and earn some cash doing it? Or perhaps you’re an avid poet lover who’s always on the lookout for new, exciting voices in the world of verse? Either way, poetry contests may be just the thing!

With a ton of contests taking place throughout the year, there’s ample opportunities for you to enter your work, compete against other poets, and potentially win money prizes and awards. 

So whether you’re a newcomer or you’ve been in the poetry game for quite some time now, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about poetry contests and where to find them…

Are Poetry Contests a Good Way to Make Money? 

Absolutely! There’s good money to be won in poetry competitions, and not to mention the instant confidence-boost and credibility you’ll get from being a part of them, too. 

Most contests award sums up to $500, however it’s not uncommon to find prizes in the $1000 plus range. Plus there’s a dozen of contests that are open for entry at the same time, giving you more chances of winning!

While a lot of these contests offer great cash prizes which can aid you in your literary career, it’s important to note that some entries focus more on giving a token prizes, like a publication in a journal or a some sort of honorarium. 

Where to Find the Best Poetry Contests and How to Enter:

Before we dive into the numerous contests taking place, we need to give you a quick disclaimer on the unfortunate scams that, in very rare cases, can occur. Be sure to check the tell-tale signs if you’re not sure whether a poetry contest is completely legit or not.

#1 – 2023 Young People’s Poetry Competition

This poetry contest is specifically for those aged between 5 and 18 years old who live in the UK, and the theme for this year is ‘memory’. This theme was chosen because of its close relation to the Causley Trust – a charity that celebrates the work of famous poet, Charles Causley. 

How to enter: Poems should be digitally emailed to admin@causleytrust.org 

Deadline: 31st March 2023
Prize: Judged by David Devanny and and others on a panel, the prizes are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and awards will be presented in the 2023 Summer Festival of Arts and Literature.

#2 – Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 

A poetry contest that is interested in seeing the best humor poems with a maximum submission of 250 lines. No age restriction for this competition, and both published and unpublished work are accepted. 

Deadline: April 1st 2023
Prize: First place prize is $2,000 plus a two-year gift certificate from lead sponsor, Duotape ($100 value). Second place is $500 and the 10 runner ups after this are awarded $100 each. All 12 entries in total will have their work published online.

#3 – The Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prizes 2023

Alpine Fellowship are running their poetry competition from the beginning of January until March 2023. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and all entries must be written in English. They accept a single poem or a collection of poems with a maximum of 500 words per entry for the contest. 

Deadline: 1st March 2023 before Midnight (UK Time) 

Prize: First place receives £3,000 cash grant, second place is awarded £1,000 travel expense, and third place withs £1,000 with travel expense and each runner up will receive travel expense support to attend the 2023 symposium. 

#4 – Annual BSFS Poetry Contest 

Every year, Baltimore Science Fiction Society runs a poetry contest with an awesome theme for avid poets to get stuck into. This year’s themes are science / fiction / fantasy / horror / science. 3 poems can be accepted per person and it needs to be a maximum of 60 lines each to be submitted. There are no entry fees and poems must be submitted via this submission link. 

Deadline: March 1st 2023

Prize: 1st place = $100, 2nd place = $75 and 3rd place = $50. 

#5 – Austin Community College – Balcones Prizes

This poetry contest requires a $25 entry fee for poems and $30 for fiction books. Submissions must be sent to balcones@austincc.edu

Deadline: 28th February 2023

Prize: Two prizes of $1500 will be awarded for a poetry collection, and a book of fiction published in the previous year. Authors or publishers may submit three copies of a book published in 2022, and any poetry collections must be at least 42 pages. 

#6 – James Welch Prize for Indigenous Poets

The James Welch Prize is awarded to two outstanding poems each written by an Indigenous U.S poet. The prize is open to newcomers who are recognized within their communities of tribal nations within the US. And only poets who have not yet published more than one book-length of work in any genre are eligible. This poetry contest is to celebrate and recognize al Native writers who are in the community. 

How to Submit: Each entrant may submit up to three poems in a single submission but be sure to only enter once. Submissions must include a cover letter with tribal affiliations alongside a brief biography. Avoid including any personal information on the poems themselves as entries will need to be anonymous at each stage of the judging process. More information on how to submit can be found here.

Deadline: February 28th 2023 

Prize: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Poetry Northwest are given annually for a single poem by an Indigenous poet. Winners will also have an all-expenses-paid trip to read with the judge in the upcoming fall. 

#7 – OmniDawn Publishing – First/Second poetry Book Contest 

Judged by Sawako Nakayasu, Omnidawn Publishing poetry contest seeks a wide range of approaches, forms and diversities (like lyric and prose poems) to send to the judge. Online submissions can be accepted from all around the world and simultaneous or multiple submissions are acceptable. A $35 entry fee is required. 

Deadline: 28th February 2023 

Prize: The winner will be awarded $3,000 plus 20 author copies are given annually for a first or second poetry collection. 

#8 – Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award

Broadside Lotus Press, who run this poetry competition, use this as an opportunity to award an African-American poet for their literary work. For this contest, two copies of a manuscript of roughly 60-90 pages must be submitted by the deadline. There are no entry fees required. Submissions must go to broadsidelotus@gmail.com 

Deadline: March 1st 2023 

Prize: A cash prize of $500 and a publication by Broadside Lotus Press will be awarded to the winner. 

#9 – Four Way Books 

Every year, Four Way Books run the Levis Prize in Poetry for seasoned and upcoming poets to showcase their work. You must submit a poetry manuscript of 48 – 80 pages online via the submission system. There is an entry fee of $30. This year’s judge is Diane Seuss. 

Deadline: March 31st 2023

Cash Prize: $1,000 plus a publication by Four Way Books. The winner will also be invited to participate in readings either online or in person in New York City. 

#10 – Fish Publishing – Poetry Prize

Established in 2006, Fish Poetry Prize is running their annual contest with Billy Collins as its judge. Billy will select the 10 poems to be published in the Fish Anthology 2023. There is an entry fee of $15 and you may enter as many times as you wish. The poem length is restricted to 60 lines and the winning work must not have been published previously, per the rules of the contest. 

Deadline: March 31st 2023

Prize: A cash prize of $1,055 will be awarded to the winner plus a publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a single poem. The winner is also invited to read at the West Cork Literary Festival in July along with the nine finalists. 

For more information on this contest, you can visit the website here. 

Summary

And that’s a wrap!

Participating in a poetry contest offers several benefits to poets, like getting feedback from judges, gaining exposure for their work, and of course, earning awesome cash prizes! 

It also helps you gain confidence and recognition to continue the amazing literary projects you do. 

Be sure to carefully read all guidelines and submission requirements before entering any poetry contest and also check that your work fits the style or theme that the judge is looking for so you have the best chance of winning. 

All there’s left to say is – good luck and happy writing! 

Further reading: Looking for some Creative Writing Prompts?

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