The Walter Swan Poetry Prize

The Walter Swan Poetry Prize is a competition for writers of poetry aged 18 and over. The prize is run by Ilkley Literature Festival in partnership with The Walter Swan Trust. Now in its sixth year, the prize was established in memory of writer Walter Swan.

In previous years, prize winners have been praised for their unique voices, precise use of language, powers of observation and use of fresh imagery, and qualities such as lyricism and musicality.

2020 Prize Winners

The main prize was judged by Professor John Whale, Director of the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.

1st Prize – It Was A Kindness by Michael Farren
2nd Prize – Foxes Up Churn Lane by Georgie Evans
3rd Prize – Finding Your Soap by Chris Sewart

2020 Prize 18-25 years Category

The 18-25 years sub-category was judged by award winning poet and fiction writer Dr. Rachel Bower.

1st Prize – More than crumbs by Freya Carter
2nd Prize – Going to my First Pap Smear by Freya Jackson
3rd Prize – Grandma Evans by Georgie Evans

Speaking upon the launch of the 2020 competition with it’s theme of ‘A kindness’, Niccola Swan, chair of the Walter Swan Trust, said:

“We are really delighted to be sponsoring the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Prize again. The theme of ‘A Kindness’ links particularly well to Walter and his own interests and writing. He used to run a Facebook page called Kindness – the Golden Chain, and his own poems were often on this theme. One of his best-known poems is called ‘May You’ and it features these lines: 

‘May your world be one of kindnesses both given and received 
With no expectation, ever, of reward 
May the world be the better for your having shared in it 
May your memory live on for loving and being loved’ 

2021 Walter Swan Poetry Prize

The 2021 Walter Swan Competition will open for entries in April 2021. Details of the Prize and how to enter will be announced soon.

If you have any queries about the prize, please contact info@ilkleylitfest.org.uk