Eco poetry submissions

  • Open Call
  • UK
  • Applications have closed
  • Open Call
  • UK
  • Applications have closed.

Website VervePoetryFest Verve Poetry Festival

With VERVE Poetry Festival 2024 looming in the near distance (have you saved the dates?? It’s 21/02/24 – 25/02/24!) it’s time to announce the return of our annual VERVE Poetry Competition with a fabulous new judge and a brand new theme.

And what better theme for this year’s comp, as we sweat in September’s heat having gotten rain-drenched in July and August, than one that engages with the worrying trends impacting our climate and looks at the wider issues facing our ecology? Just what is going on and what can we do about it? What might the world look like in our near or even further distant future and how will we have to develop to deal with the ecology that awaits us? What do we love most about the natural world that sustains us and which most of us seem to have little regard for? What would David Attenborough say if he were a poet? YEP, this year we’re plucking our buried heads out of the sand and taking a good look at ourselves and our brethren in the mirror. And we’re asking for your best ECO-POEMS.

As always we are looking for fresh approaches to a broad subject, and a range of emotions. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

NB This year, as well as being open to adults, our competition is also open to 11-17 yearolds, who can enter a maximum of one poem for FREE to our young person’s part of the competition.

This year’s judge

Helen Mort is a poet and novelist. Her collections Division Street (2013), No Map Could Show Them (2016) and The Illustrated Woman (2022) are all published by Chatto & Windus. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University. She lives in Sheffield.

Helen appeared at the first ever VERVE Festival in 2017, and appeared again this earlier this year when she headlined alongside Imtiaz Dharker and Hannah Sullivan. She also workshopped at the festival both for adults and for young poets in association with Poetry Society Young Poets Network and has been part of our first ever Zoom season of fortnightly workshops which has been running since June and closes in early November. (We will be reviving our Zoom Workshop Season in 2024. To be kept abreast of this and hear all our other news, please sign up to our regular newsletter here: Verve Poetry Festival ( or follow us on our socials (see bottom of page for links)).

What the judge says:

‘I am looking for poems that insist I read them more than once, poems that won’t let me walk away from them, that yield more on each reading. I have really eclectic tastes in literature and enjoy a variety of forms and styles, so I am open to being impressed by any approach to any subject!

I think sometimes with competitions people try to second guess the tastes of the judge or select work that is in keeping with the kind of poetry the judge writes. But I am often most impressed by poems that I know I couldn’t have written, pieces that make me think differently about voice or about the possibilities of form. Be yourself: write the kind of poems you’d like to read, send the poems that excite you.
Write the poem only you can write.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your work!

Helen Mort

2023/4 Judge

How to apply:

PayPal payment

The cost of entry to our competition is £5.00 for the first poem and £3.00 for each subsequent poem. Please pay using the Paypal button below. Only online payment is accepted. NB 11-17 yearold entrants do not have to pay to enter, but may only submit one poem.

Email Entries

Once your Paypal payment is completed please email your poem(s) to, each on a separate Word or PDF document. Your personal details must not be anywhere on the document(s) containing your poem(s). Please label your document with the title of your poem only. In the body of your email, please leave your name, postal address, email address and telephone contact details, along with the receipt number for your PayPal payment.

Audio Entries

Because we wish to encourage entries from performance poets as well as those who write with the page in mind, we will accept audio entries of work on mp3 or .wma. ALL audio entries however must also be accompanied by a written version of the work and be emailed as described above.


If you are a friend of VERVE submitting a poem then you can submit your first 2 poems for the price of 1. For example if you want to send two poems then choose the option for 1 poem in the drop-down menu and send us two poems by email!

Competition Rules

  • Poems must be no more than 80 lines long excluding title, and be typed on A4 paper, either as a Word doc or PDF. There is no minimum length for entries.
  • Poems should be ECO-POEMS.
  • The main competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over. 11-17 year olds are encouraged to enter our FREE competition as mentioned.
  • Poems must be typed, in English, unpublished, (they must not have been published, self-published or accepted for publication in print or online, broadcast, or have won or been placed in another competition at any time), have a title, and be your original work. No translations, please.
  • All poems will be read and judged anonymously by Helen Mort. They cannot be returned, and may not be altered after submission. The judge’s decisions are final.
  • No person may win more than one prize.
  • The copyright of each poem remains with the author, although the organisers have the right to publish winning and commended poems on our website, on online social media, and once in any anthology of poetry that Verve Poetry Festival chooses to organise.
  • There are three cash prizes: £500 for first place, £250 for second place and £100 for third place for paying entrants. 21 ‘commended’  poets will be included in our Eco-Poetry Themed Anthology and invited to read their poem alongside the prizewinners at our Eco-Poetry Event at VERVE, hosted by Helen! Those who attend will be given a free one day pass to enjoy any of the other events on that day at the festival. NB Ten 11-17 year old poets will be selected to be in the anthology, to read at the event and to attend a special workshop at the festival on the same day, but these entries will not be eligible for cash prizes. 

No travelling or accommodation costs can be paid in connection with any prize awarded or for attendance to read at VERVE Poetry Festival.

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Verve Poetry Festival

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