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Live Canon Performing Poetry Competition

2015 International Poetry Competition

Deadline 6th September

Entries are open for the Live Canon 2015 International Poetry Competition, with a first prize of £1000. Single poems are accepted, of any length, and from anywhere in the world, provided they are written in the English language. Previous winners include Inua Ellams (2014), Tessa Foley (2013) and Andrew McMillan (2012).

25 shortlisted poems are published in an annual anthology. You can order the 2014 anthology here.

The unique aspect of the Live Canon competition is that all the shortlisted poems are peformed by the Live Canon ensemble (from memory) in a special event at Greenwich Theatre to launch the anthology and announce the overall winner. As part of the judging process all poems are read aloud by the judging panel, so we are particularly interested in poems which leap off the page.

Tessa Foley on winning the 2013 Live Canon International Poetry Prize: The whole Live Canon experience was rare and emotional. To hear one's poetry interpreted by a talented professional is an opportunity that every writer should have; I felt truly privileged to see my poem alongside 20 others that were each so uniquely superb.
Winning has given me a huge boost, elevating belief in my own work and I am incredibly grateful to have met such passionate and welcoming people.

An additional 'Borough' prize of £100 is sponsored by Greenwich Theatre and awarded to a poet living, studying or working in the London Borough of Greenwich.

You can download an entry form here, and then enter by email or by post (we prefer email entries because it saves trees).

Download form as PDF

Download form as Word Document

Entry fees: £5 per poem, £12 for 3 poems. Friends of Live Canon are entitled to 3 free entries**.

**You can become a Friend of Live Canon using the competition entry form, and claim your three free entries immediately.



2015 First Collection Competition

Deadline 13th July - NOW CLOSED

Entries are now open for the Live Canon first collection competition. The winning collection will be published by the Live Canon Poetry Press. In the first instance, you are asked to submit 16 A4 pages of the manuscript. The longlist will then be asked to submit the rest of their collection.

We can accept entries from anywhere in the world, provided that they are written in English. Entrants should not have had a collection published, though previous publication of a pamphlet is acceptable. If you have any questions just email us at competition @

Manuscripts should be submitted anonymously, so please remove your name from your script.

You can submit by email or post.

Download an entry form: here as a PDF or here as a word document.

Deadline: 13th July, Entry fee: £10

Our last competition was won by NJ Hynes, whose collection 'The Department of Emotional Projections', is now available in all good bookshops or from Amazon here. We were lucky enough to be able to raise additional funding to publish the 4 other shortlisted collections as well. Marcus Smith's Sez and Mark Huband's American Road are now available (Sez and American Road), and Andrew George's Milk Round and Tim Richardson's Righteous Ire of the Reincarnated Jethro Tull are forthcoming.




NJ Hynes' debut collection, winner of the 2014 First Collection Prize, is on sale now in all good bookshops. Or buy from Amazon here.


HEAD JUDGE: Glyn Maxwell

Glyn Maxwell's recent book 'On Poetry' was described by the Guardian as 'the best book about poetry I've ever read'. Simon Armitage described it: as the ‘most compelling, original, charismatic and poetic guide to poetry that I can remember. A handbook written from the heart by one of the true modern masters of the craft.’ Glyn has published prolifically as a poet and playwright, winning the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Prize, an Eric Gregory Award... and being nominated multiple times for the TS Eliot Prize, Forward Prize and Whitbread Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Welsh Academy.

Andrew McMillan, on winning the 2012 Live Canon International Poetry Prize:

'Winning the Live Canon competition was such a thrill and an honour! I rarely enter competitions but the chance to see an actor perform my poem on stage seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up- to win as well was just terrific! I never really thought I wrote the sort of poems that would win competitions but the prize really helped my career and the prize money came at just the right time for me!'

BUY THE 2014 anthology here.