The 2022 Walter Swan Poetry Prize

2022 Walter Swan Poetry Prize

Now in its seventh year, the Walter Swan Poetry Prize is open to all writers of poetry aged 18 and over. Last year’s poets were praised for their powerful imagery, disciplined use of form and language and for “taking the competition theme in [their] stride” with “original treatment of [their] chosen subject matter.”

Entries for the 2022 competition are asked to respond to the theme of ‘The Audience’.
‘The Audience’ within an entered poem can take any shape or form, be literal or metaphorical, and interpreted as imaginatively as entrants wish.

The competition is now closed for entries. The winners will be announced on 6 October 2022 on our website and in an online event.


1st Prize: £200
2nd Prize: £100
3rd Prize: £75

The 1st prize winner will also win a one-to-one feedback session with the 2022 Poet in Residence, Kayo Chingonyi.

Extra incentives for writers aged 18-25

The poetry prize is run by Ilkley Literature Festival in partnership with The Walter Swan Trust. Established in memory of writer Walter Swan, the Trust promotes all forms of creative writing and has a particular interest in providing opportunities to young and new writers.

Entrants aged 18-25 will be automatically entered into consideration for a subcategory prize for young adult writers, as well as for the main prize (it will be possible for an eligible entrant to win both). We have also made it easier for younger writers to enter the competition by reducing the entry fees for those aged 25 and under to £3 per poem.

18-25 Years Subcategory Prizes
1st Prize: £100
2nd Prize: £75
3rd Prize: £50

The winning poems will be announced in a special online event during the October Festival. All six winning poets – both overall and 18-25 years competitions – will be invited to read their entries within the event.

Essential Info for All Entrants

  • Entries must respond to the prompt ‘The Audience’
  • Poems should be no more than 30 lines (excluding the title)
  • Entries received from anyone aged 18-25 will automatically be entered for consideration in the 18-25 years subcategory as well as the main Walter Swan Poetry Prize
  • The prizes are judged separately, and it is possible for an entrant aged 18-25 years to win or be placed in both prizes
  • Closing date for receipt of entries: 31 July 2022, 11.30pm


The entry fee is £6 per poem for writers aged over 25 years or £3 per poem for writers aged 18-25 years. You can submit as many entries as you like.

Fees are payable online or if submitting your entry by post, please include a cheque made out to Ilkley Literature Festival Ltd.


The competition is open to anyone aged 18 and over. Non-UK residents are welcome to enter the competition. Please note there is a separate poetry competition for young people aged 12-18.

Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been published, self-published, published on any website or online forum, broadcast nor won or been placed in any other competition (as at October 2022).

Entries submitted posthumously will not be eligible.

Online Entries

The competition has now closed for entries.

Entries by Post

Please do not put your name or address on the poem itself.
Write your name, address, telephone number and email address on the entry form accompanying it.

Click here to download the postal entry form.

  • Entries must be in English, typed, single-sided
  • Poems must be single spaced
  • Entries must have a title and must show no name, address or other identifying marks
  • Entries will not be returned, please keep a copy
  • No corrections can be made after receipt of your entry, or any fees refunded
  • Please ensure you use the correct postage

Send postal entries marked clearly ‘Walter Swan Poetry Competition’ to:

Ilkley Literature Festival
9 The Grove
West Yorkshire
LS29 9LW


Prize winners will be notified by Friday 16 September 2022. The list of prize winners will be displayed on the website after 6 October 2022 after the winners announcement prize event.


Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but by entering the competition the entrant agrees that Ilkley Literature Festival reserves the right to publish the winning poems (including those of the runners up) and/or performances of the poems on the festival’s digital platforms, in an anthology or used for publicity purposes at any stage in the future. Entrants agree to waive their rights in relation to such publication to the extent that they can do so.


Walter Swan Poetry Prize Judge: Ilkley Literature Festival’s 2022 Poet in Residence, Kayo Chingonyi
18-25 Years Judge: Ilkley Literature Festival’s 2022 Apprentice Poet in Residence, to be announced August 2022

The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into.
Judges are unable to comment on individual entries.
Judging will be fair and unbiased. Experienced readers will assist the named judges in selecting the shortlists.
The organisers reserve the right to change the panel of judges without notice and not to award prizes if, in the opinion of the judges, such as action is justified.

Please Note
Entry implies acceptance of the all the above rules.
Failure to comply with the entry requirements will result in disqualification.

Any Questions?
If you have any further questions, please contact and we will be happy to help.

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