Poetry Prize: £10,000*
Entry fee: £17.50 (reduced price entry available**) 
Deadline for Entries: 20th September 2019, 5pm (UK time)
Chair of Poetry Judges: Malika Booker

£10,000 prize for the best portfolio of three to five poems (maximum combined length: 120 lines). Open internationally to new and established writers aged 16 or over (no upper age limit). Please see below for full terms and conditions of entry and, for further information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

*Terms and conditions apply.

**A limited number of reduced price entries are available to writers who might not otherwise be able to take part in the competition. If you would like to apply for one of these, please contact writingschool@mmu.ac.uk to register your interest and for further details. The deadline for expressions of interest in reduced price entry is 30th June 2019.

‌The 2019 Manchester Writing Competition is now closed to entries. See below for details of this year’s short-listed finalists. The winners will be announced on 7th February. Book your free tickets to the gala ceremony here.

2019 Poetry Prize Judges


Malika BookerMalika Booker

Malika Booker is an award-winning poet, theatre-maker and multi-disciplinary artists, and an experienced writing competition judge. She is the founder of the Malika's Poetry Kitchen writers’ community initiative. In 2019 she was commissioned to write and perform a poem about Mars for a BBC Science series about the solar system and was awarded a prestigious Society of Authors Cholmondley Award for her contribution to poetry. She joined Manchester Metropolitan University as Lecturer in Creative Writing in January 2019.


W. N. Herbert

W.N. Herbert is mostly published by Bloodaxe Books, and his poetry has received numerous accolades, including a Cholmondeley award, and being shortlisted (twice!) for the TS Eliot Prize. He lives in Newcastle, where he is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University. He was born in Dundee, and in 2013 was appointed the city’s first Makar or laureate. He is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Society.


Karen McCarthy Woolf

Born in London to English and Jamaican parents Karen McCarthy Woolf’s An Aviary of Small Birds is described as an ‘extraordinarily moving and technically flawless’ (The Poetry Review) ‘pitch perfect’ début (Guardian). As poet-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum, she wrote her second collection, Seasonal Disturbances, exploring nature, migration, the city and the sacred. A Complete Works Fellow, Karen is an editor, critic and radio dramatist. Her work is translated into Turkish, Spanish, Swedish and Italian. This year sees her co-curating Radio 4’s Poetry Please, lecturing in China and joining UCLA as a Fulbright All Disciplines post-doctoral Scholar as Writer in Residence at the Promise Institute for Human Rights Law.

2019 Poetry Prize Short-list


Katie Hale

Hale,-KatieBorn in Cumbria, Katie is the author of a novel, My Name is Monster (Canongate, 2019), and two poetry pamphlets: Breaking the Surface (Flipped Eye, 2017) and Assembly Instructions (Southword Editions, 2019), which won the Munster Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition. In 2019, she was awarded a MacDowell Fellowship, and was Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust and at Passa Porta in Brussels. Her poetry has been published in Poetry ReviewThe North and Magma, among others. She regularly runs writing workshops in schools, and is currently working on a full-length poetry collection, exploring her family’s female heritage.


Momtaza Mehri

Mehri,-MomtazaMomtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist and meme archivist. She is the co-winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the 2017 Outspoken Page Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely anthologised and has appeared in Granta, Artforum, Poetry International, BBC Radio 4, Vogue and Real Life Mag. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London and a columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Open Space. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least, was published by Goldsmiths Press in November 2019.


Lauren Pope

Pope,-LaurenLauren runs the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School at the University of Edinburgh, where she is also pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing with an emphasis on semiotics and the anorexic aesthetic in the early poetry of Medbh McGuckian and Louise Glück. Her poetry has appeared in various journals and online publications including GutterMagma, The North and The Rialto. She was one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. Her poetry pamphlet, Announce This, was published by Templar Poetry, and shortlisted for the 2018 Callum Macdonald Memorial Awards.


Karisma Price

Prize,-KarismaBorn and raised in New Orleans, LA, Karisma Price holds a BA in creative writing from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry from New York University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PoetryFour Way ReviewWildnessThe Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and New York University and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at Tulane University in New Orleans.


David Allen Sullivan

Sullivan,-David-AllenDavid Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, published in England as Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. He won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing, and his book of poems about the year he spent as a Fulbright lecturer in China, Seed Shell Ash, is forthcoming from Salmon Press, Ireland. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family. He is searching for a publisher for an anthology of poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel he edited with his art historian mother who died recently. 


Marvin Thompson

Thompson,-MarvinMarvin Thompson was born in London to Jamaican parents and now lives in mountainous south Wales. His debut collection, Road Trip (Peepal Tree Press, March 2020), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

In 2019, he was one of only eight writers to be awarded a grant by Literature Wales as part of the Platforming Under-represented Writers Funding Scheme. His war poem, ‘The Many Reincarnations of Gerald, Oswald Archibald Thompson’ was submitted by Long Poem Magazine for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Poem. As well as having an MA in creative writing, Thompson was selected by Nine Arches Press for the Primers 2 mentoring scheme. Reviewers of the anthology described his work as ‘exciting,’ ‘dramatic’ and ‘a virtuoso performance.’

Read the 2019 short-listed poems:

Notes to Editors

Terms and Conditions (the rules):


  1. The Manchester Writing Competition: The Manchester Poetry Prize 2019 (the "Competition") is organised by the Manchester Metropolitan University ("Manchester Met").
  2. The Competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over who is not excluded by these Rules. There is no upper age limit for entry.
  3. Members of Manchester Met staff (who may also be students) and their spouses are excluded from being eligible to enter.
  4. The deadline for entries is 5pm (UK time) on 20th September 2019. Entries received after this deadline will not be considered but fees may still be charged. The online entry system may become busy as the deadline nears, so entrants are advised not to leave submission until the last minute.
  5. Entrants must submit a portfolio comprising a minimum of three and a maximum of five poems. There is no line limit – minimum or maximum – for each individual poem, but the overall maximum length of the poems combined must not exceed 120 lines. Titles, blank lines and page numbers are not included in the line count.
  6. Entrants may submit as many portfolios of three to five poems as they wish, but each portfolio must be submitted as a separate entry with a separate entry form and a separate entry fee.
  7. All work submitted for consideration can be on any subject, and written in any style or form, but must be the entrant's own original writing, and should not have been published in print or have been broadcast on or before 28th February 2020. Work which has been published on public websites, blogs or social media sites can be submitted, but must be taken down before the date of entry and must not be uploaded again on or before 28th February 2020. Work that has been circulated via, or uploaded to, closed forums (e.g. for the purposes of workshopping on writing courses) can be submitted. Simultaneous submissions to other competitions and for publication are permitted, provided the work is not published elsewhere before 28th February 2020. Work found to be published in print or to have been broadcast or to have appeared on a website outside of these terms will be disqualified without refund of the entry fee.
  8. All work must be typed or word-processed, clearly legible and written in English. Entrants should not include illustrations or artwork. Pages submitted by post should be stapled, paper-clipped or loose, so that they can be separated easily for photocopying/scanning. Beyond these stipulations, presentation (e.g. font and spacing) is at the entrant’s discretion.
  9. Translations into English of work written in other languages can be accepted, provided that the source text is the entrant's own original work and has not been published (in line with point 7, above); translations into English of work published (in line with point 7, above) elsewhere in other languages will not be accepted.
  10. Entries will be accepted only by post or online via the competition website. Submission via other means (e.g. email) will not be accepted.
  11. Postal entries will only be valid if accompanied by a completed entry form. Postal entrants should enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope or postcard if they would like acknowledgement of entry; acknowledgement will normally be sent out within 28 days of entry, once the entry has been processed and checked.
  12. Online entries must be made via the Manchester Writing Competition website: www.manchesterwritingcompetition.co.uk. Online entrants will be required to pay online and will receive an automated email acknowledging receipt at the time of entry.
  13. All entries will be assigned an ID number and made anonymous upon receipt. Judges will not be privy to entrants' names during the reading and judging processes. Names will be reattributed to entries only after the short list and winners have been decided.
  14. Entries submitted for consideration may be withdrawn from the Competition by entrants by notification in writing (by post or email) to be received by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met. Where work is withdrawn, entry fees will not be refunded.
  15. Amendments cannot be made to entries after they have been submitted; poems cannot be amended, corrected or substituted. If entrants wish to correct errors in poems, they must withdraw their portfolio of poems from the Competition as above and enter again with payment of entry fee. No correspondence or discussion about amendments will be entered into.
  16. Entries will not be returned under any circumstances. Correspondence requesting returns will not receive a response.
  17. Manchester Met reserves the right to disqualify any entry if it has reasonable grounds to believe that the entrant has breached any of these Rules, or made a false declaration on the entry form.
  18. Manchester Met cannot accept any responsibility for any damage, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by any entrant entering the Competition.
  19. Manchester Met will act in accordance with current UK data protection legislation in relation to your personal data.
  20. The Competition and Rules will be governed by English Law and any dispute will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  21. Manchester Met reserves the right to amend these Rules where it is deemed necessary to do so or where circumstances are beyond MMU's control. Any changes to the Rules will be posted on the Manchester Writing Competition website.
  22. Submission of an entry will be deemed to imply unqualified acceptance of the Competition's Rules. In the event of any dispute regarding these Rules or any other matter relating to the Competition, the decision of Manchester Met shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.

Judging and selection

  1. A judging panel of practising writers will select a short-list of entrants and, from that list, select the winners. The judges' decisions are final, and no correspondence about their decisions will be entered into. Manchester Met reserves the right to change the panel of judges without notice. The judges reserve the right not to award the prizes, or to reduce the prize money, if, in their opinion, such action is justified for any reason.
  2. Short-listed entrants will be invited to attend a prize-giving event in Manchester in February 2020. The winners will be announced at this event. Short-listed entrants will be notified by telephone on or before the end of 20th December 2019. In cases where short-listed entrants are unable to attend the event, they will be invited to send a representative (a friend or relative) on their behalf; if a representative is unable to attend, short-listed entrants will be asked to submit a short written statement to be read out at the ceremony should they win.


  1. The cost of entry is £17.50 (sterling) per [portfolio of three to five poems/short story depending on which prize].
  2. 100 reduced price (£7.50) entries are available to writers who might not otherwise be able to take part in the competition. If you would like to apply for one of these, please contact writingschool@mmu.ac.uk to register your interest and for further details. Applicants will be asked to provide details of eligibility, and may be asked to submit documentary evidence. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by email within 28 days of submission of any requested information or evidence. The deadline for expressions of interest in reduced price entry is 30th June 2019. Applications for reduced price entry will no longer be considered after that date, or when all 100 have been allocated. Applications for reduced price entry will be considered by the competition administrative team whose decisions are final, and no correspondence about their decisions will be entered into. Manchester Met reserves the right to not grant reduced price entry, if, in their opinion, such action is justified for any reason.
  3. POSTAL ENTRANTS: Payment should be made by cheque or postal order. Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to "Manchester Metropolitan University". If a portfolio is received successfully but the cheque does not clear, the entrant will be contacted within 28 days and asked to attempt payment again by no later than 20th December 2019, or to withdraw from the Competition.
  4. ONLINE ENTRANTS: Payment should be made by debit/credit card. We cannot accept payment via PayPal. If an online entrant successfully submits a portfolio but then fails to complete payment at the checkout, you will have until 20th December 2019 to revisit the online shop and complete payment, or to withdraw from the Competition.
  5. In any cases where payments have not cleared by 20th December 2019, entrants will be automatically disqualified from the Competition.
  6. Where entrants are unable to complete payment via cheque or postal order, or via the online system, it may be possible for payment to be made over the telephone via debit/credit card or electronically via direct bank transfer. Please consult our Frequently Asked Questions page for further details.
  7. Payments from foreign bank accounts: please discuss with your bank whether any charges will be taken and add the value of the charge to your payment. We will not be able to accept payments from overseas accounts where charges will be taken and these are not added to your payment amount.
  8. Payment in any form other than cheque or postal order or debit/credit card is made at the entrant's own risk.


  1. Selected pieces may be printed in publications and journals hosted by Manchester Met and may appear in electronic format on the Manchester Met website, or in other electronic forms. Pieces may appear in abridged or edited form. The copyright in each poem submitted remains with the author. Entrants are deemed to grant to Manchester Met a non-exclusive, worldwide licence over each entry submitted for the duration of the Competition (which is deemed to end on 28th February 2020), and for publicity purposes (including in print and electronic publications) thereafter. Simultaneous submissions to other competitions and for publication are permitted, provided the work is not published elsewhere before 28th February 2020.


  1. "The Manchester Writing Competition: The Manchester Poetry Prize" will award one prize: a cash sum of £10,000.00 to the winner(s). The judges may decide to award The Manchester Poetry Prize jointly and divide the cash sum accordingly. The maximum number of winners will be two. The prize money is generated entirely through entry fees and may be reduced if an insufficient number of entries are received.


  1. Postal entries should be sent to: Manchester Poetry Prize, Finance Service Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, Righton Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG, United Kingdom.
  2. Queries should be sent to the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met: writingschool@mmu.ac.uk. Please consult our Frequently Asked Questions page before getting in touch.

Read the previous winning and short-listed entries:

The Manchester Writing Competition is sponsored by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts presented in partnership with Manchester Literature Festival.‌