Ledbury Poetry Competition Opens

Ledbury Poetry Competition is open for entries from 15th May – 10th July 2023

Chloe Garner, Director, encourages poets to enter their work: “Ledbury Poetry Competition has pushed many poets onwards, towards more poems, a collection and beyond. So enter now and give your work a chance!”

The judge this year will be Philip Gross. Philip has published 27 collections, for adults and for young people, over 40 years of publication. He won the T.S. Eliot in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator, e.g. with Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018), with scientists on the young people’s collection Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018) and with artist Valerie Coffin Price and Welsh-language poet Cyril Jones on Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021). His latest, The Thirteenth Angel (Bloodaxe, 2022), a PBS Recommendation, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

Philip Gross: “What I’ll be looking for…? Poems that aren’t whatever I might think I’m looking for. Poems intent on being wholly, intensely themselves, regardless of what a judge, the zeitgeist or even their author might want them to be. Poems that have to be poems because they couldn’t be expressed in any other way.” 

The first prize for the competition is £1,000 cash and, in our on-going partnership with Arvon, a week’s poetry course. Second Prize is £500 and third prize is £250. All winners are invited to read at Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2024.

Arvon is the UK’s leading creative writing charity with a wide range of residential and online writing courses. The winner will have one calendar year from the prize being announced to claim either a residential or online week of their choice. The competition is international, open to poets writing in the English language.

Mary Morris, Artistic Director at Arvon: “Ledbury Poetry has an impressive track record when it comes to recognising fresh talent, and so Arvon is delighted to be working in partnership with this competition to help develop and nurture that talent, whether in one of our writing houses or online through Arvon at Home”

The competition is international, open to poets writing in the English language. You must be 18 years of age or over to enter. All terms and conditions and details of how to enter can be found online https://ledburypoetry.org.uk/home/ledbury-poetry-competition-2023/


Ledbury Poetry Festival runs 30th June – 9th July. Available now at https://ledburypoetry.org.uk/home/whats-on/

Award-winning poets, international voices, family favourites, workshops and world classics, rounded-off with music and dance.  Live and online, everyone is welcome to create and celebrate this summer.

New this year is Guest Curator, Stephanie Sy-Quia.

Ledbury Poetry Festival is delighted to announce Don Paterson as Poet in Residence.

Award winning poets:

Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, plays with his band LYR. His new collection of lyrics Never Good with Horses is out this spring.

Joseph Coelho, the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, opens the Festival with an event for Schools, and entertains family audiences at the weekend. Inspired by magic and the ancient world, Joseph explores fear, courage, diversity, empathy and gratitude. His award-winning work includes Overheard in a Tower Block and The Girl Who Became a Tree.

Maya C Popa, Romanian-American writer, academic and editor whose latest book has been rapturously received, Wound is the Origin of Wonder.

Joelle Taylor, T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet for her collection C+nto, judged the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2022 and hosts the winners at the Festival, as well as headlining a performance sure to inspire. She is a myth maker, risk taker and poetical activist.

Guest Curator Stephanie Sy_Quia’s programme includes new commissions, invigorating themes and explorations:

Stephanie Sy-Quia and Sarala Estruch, both Ledbury Poetry Critics (see below in notes to editors), explore their debut collections, Amnion and After All We Have Travelled probing the modes of  writing about family with all its anxieties and joys.

Will Harris, Anthony Anaxagorou and Omar Bin Musa talk Brothers and Bonds: Refashioning Masculinities.

Stans and Mystics asks what subject links rapture, chronic illness and celebrity culture and believe the answer is medieval mysticism. Abi Palmer looks to St Teresa of Avila in Sanatorium and Naomi Morris looks at Julian of Norwich. Both suggest these mystics have a lot to teach us now – fandom, being a little too online and ecstasy.

Trip Literature looks at what the formal impact of a trip might be. In States of the Body produced by Love Nisha Ramayya burrowed into Sanskrit, one of her ancestral languages, via the means of an imperialist and imperialising dictionary ‘dragging lamps’ into the shafts she’d dug. Now, the trips which concern her most recent work are of a more hallucinatory, ascendant nature. Peter Scalpello explores the formal potential of chemsex (use of drugs in sex) and a foray into modes of queer becoming or evasion – which is complemented by their job as a sexual health therapist.

In Artistic Obsessions, Amy Key looks at Joni Mitchell in Arrangements in Blue and Tom De Freston’s Wreck is a multi layered work inspired by Gericault’s The Wreck of Medusa.

And leading into the weekend Stephanie Sy-Quia acts as poetry sommelier as wine and poetry are paired at a Poetry Tasting event hosted at Hay Wines.

Ledbury Poetry is thrilled that Don Paterson will be joining us as poet in residence:

Don will be running workshops on the art and practise of writing poetry as well as joining discussions and talking about and reading from his own collection Artic,and joining two Dead Poets Society events about Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

 The environment is explored, celebrated, debated and questioned in #LPF23 programme this summer:

Michael Morpurgo presents his new anthology, out in June, My Heart was a Tree. Inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes which gives his book its name, by the woods around his home and by the mighty forests that support our life on Earth.

Monty Don will present his favourite poems about the gardens and nature.

Zaffar Kunial explores the pastoral in England’s Green, reprising many themes from his T.S.Eliot prize shortlisted collection Us.

Nina Mingya Powles and Alycia Pirmohamed have written about their relationship to water which coalesce in bright and unexpected ways. Join them at the wild swimming pool, to swim, and hear them read and talk about their work.

LPF’s World Classics series – Dead Poets Society:

Emma Smith, University of Oxford joins Abigail Rokison-Woodall, University of Birmingham, and Omar Elerian, the Director at the RSC of As You Like It (opens June) to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The Dead Poets Society also looks at the work of Christine de Pizan with Charlotte Cooper-Davis, the work of Ledbury’s own Elizabeth Barrett Browning with Don Paterson, Dinah Roe and Clare Armitstead, culture editor at The Guardian, and Rowan Williams and Megan Daffern read The Psalms. Marion Turner looks at The Wife of Bath. Tishani Doshi presents the 14th century Kashmiri mystic poet Lal Ded with Menna Elfyn who introduces Eluned Phillips. Join the discussions of these great poets of the past.

 Family Favourites include Joseph Coelho and Michael Morpurgo starring in main stage events. This year there will be drop-in workshops around the poetree in Ledbury’s Walled Garden where everyone is welcome to relax in a Ledbury Poetry deckchair, sip home-made elderflower cordial and of course, read. On the last day of the Festival, a Celebration Day takes place around The Master’s House (medieval hospital in the centre of Ledbury which now hosts Ledbury Library). Join poets, performers and a host of exhibition stands with wonderful food, plants and local drink.

Also, in a first for Ledbury Poetry, a Study Day for A level students. With Tishani Doshi looking at her poem studied for A Level, Owen Sheers, poet, and founder of Black Mountains College, curating Climate Crisis poems and exploring with students these unseen poems, with Esther Menon, Principal Examiner for Pearson. The day will finish with a poetry writing workshop presented by the Uni of Worcester’s Ruth Stacey.


Don Paterson on the Art of and Practise of writing poetry, Andrew McMillan exploring A Quiet Life, Nasser Hussain on Joy, Becky Varley-Winter on Ecopoetics. Milena Williamson looks at Writing the Witch with the proliferation of witch poetry in recent years.

 Music, dance and performances:

Seckou Keita plays the Kora with Jackie Morris reading and painting in a magical event at Hellens Manor.

Sam Lee, shares his desert island poems and music and talks about his book The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird tells the epic tale of this highly endangered bird and their place in culture folklore, folksong, music and literature.

A performance of the stunning new dance commission from Guest Curator Stephanie Sy-Quia for Oluwaseun Olayiwola poet and dancer, and Andrew McMillan poet called ‘Swan Sequence’.

Éadaoín Lynch reads from Fierce Scrow and alongside they play cèilidh music on the fiddle.

The final night and highlight of Ledbury Poetry Festival 2023 will be a performance by LYR, Simon Armitage’s band.

Everyone is welcome to join the Festival live in beautiful Ledbury. Events are at historic venues, the community hall, the market theatre, the walled garden, the wild swimming pond and the local wine shop… And at the weekends there will be Poetry Passeggiata events in the sunny Churchyard where you can hear new work from poets featured over the weekend with an aperitivo in the early evenings.

Many events will also be live-streamed enabling the world to explore, discuss, debate and celebrate alongside the live audience. Digital Pass Tickets allow access to events and the opportunity to join in asking questions. We’ll be sending out to digital pass holders ways in which you can create the Ledbury Poetry Festival atmosphere from home.

Chloe Garner, Director, says: “Ledbury Poetry is inclusive and nurturing and these values are embodied in the Ledbury Poetry Critics’s programme where huge strides are being made to ensure diversity in poetry criticism. It is in this context that I am proud to welcome Ledbury Poetry Festival’s first ever Guest Curator, Stephanie Sy-Quia, a Ledbury Poetry Critic who won the 2022 Forward Prize for Best First Collection with Amnion. By changing the gatekeepers, Ledbury Poetry Festival looks to build diverse future audiences and a rich and thriving poetry scene. Stephanie’s events are characterised by their intriguing, provocative and thoughtful themes. Grab weekend passes and see them all!”

Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator, says: “I am absolutely delighted to be the guest curator for the festival this year. The whole festival team have been so accommodating and welcoming. This year, I really wanted to emphasise that poetry is a thriving thing in every space – be that a churchyard or a campsite (locations for some of our events), and open to all! We’ll be talking about medieval mysticism, jellyfish consciousness, and tracking the figure of Caliban through pop culture. I hope you can join us!”

If you would like to speak with Chloe Garner, Director, or Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator, please contact Becky Shaw on production@ledburypoetry.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Inclusive, International, Inspirational

Ledbury Poetry creates live and online programmes throughout the year culminating in Ledbury Poetry Festival each July. Now in its 27th year, it is the largest and most international celebration of poetry and spoken word in Britain making Ledbury the home of poetry in the UK.

Ledbury Poetry has moved to The Barrett Browning Institute in Ledbury. Our new home is a hive of activity and welcomes visitors to explore exhibitions during the Festival. Ledbury Poetry House also hosts the Box Office and a Bookshop.

Ledbury Poetry Critics launched its mentorship programme, recruiting 12 critics of colour, in 2017, and has been responsible for increasing the visibility of poets and critics of colour. There are now over 35 critics within the programme founded by Sandeep Parmar and Sarah Howe with support from Ledbury Poetry. Ledbury Poetry Critics introduce and chair events at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year and the first Guest Curator has been appointed in 2023 from this programme: Stephanie Sy-Quia. Full information on the programme can be found here: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk/home/ledbury-poetry-critics

Ledbury Poetry Player ensures that events are available for everyone around the world to enjoy.

Ledbury Poetry Competition runs annually. The Judge for 2022 was Joelle Taylor, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize. Prizes include £1,000 and a week’s poetry course with our partner, Arvon. Winners for 2022 can be found here:  www.ledburypoetry.org.uk/competition. The 2023 competition will be launched in May.

Ledbury Poetry Salons, Workshops, and Masterclasses are delivered live and online throughout the year. Look for programmes on our What’s On page www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

Ledbury Poetry Learning projects include work in schools, monthly young writers groups, and learning opportunities for 16-25 year olds, as well as volunteering training and FREE STUDENT TICKETS under the Ledbury Poetry House Key scheme.

For all information and to explore our programmes please visit our website: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

Sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news from Ledbury Poetry:  www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

For further information about Ledbury Poetry please contact Becky Shaw: production@ledburypoetry.org.uk 

facebook /ledburyfest     twitter @ledburypoetry        Instagram ledburypoetry


Previous Post
Ledbury Poetry Festival Launch
Next Post
Making a poster by Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator