how to participate, topic and deadline


Full terms and conditions follow below, but for now here are some tips.

First of all, as the winner will be published at the end of January, be aware that submitting a Yule-themed poem will not necessarily increase your chances. A good poem, like a dog, is for life – not just for Christmas.

Then feel free to pick up the theme and run with it. You can write about pets or pests, beasts caged in zoos or roaming the wild, animals you have known personally or ones you have never seen, creatures from ancient myths or strange new chimeras that you have just invented. The Beast in Space, in WS Graham’s great poem of the same name, is an indescribable creature that lives ‘on the other side of words’, in that no man’s land between the mind of the writer and that of the reader.

Don’t feel obligated to choose an animal that seems inherently “poetic”. The Nightingale has already captured the attention of Coleridge, Keats and John Clare, but you could be the poet to write the first truly great ode to whelks. Alternatively, you could reintroduce us to the most peculiar of creatures, Shakespeare’s “poor, naked, forked animal”: homo sapiens.

Poems of any style or form are welcome. Why not try borrowing the form of a classic animal poem? Christopher Smart’s 18th century regard for his cat Jeoffry inspired a number of wonderful imitations. Or perhaps you’ll invent a shape that mimics the shape of the creature itself, as Edwin Morgan did with his Nap of a Hungarian Serpent (“s sz sz SZ sz SZ sz ZS zs Zs zs zs z “).

And read widely for inspiration. If you’ve lost touch with recent poetry, preparing for this competition is a perfect excuse to find out. The insect poems from Fiona Benson’s beautiful book collection Bioluminescent Baby, reprinted this year in her Forward Prize shortlisted Ephemeron collection, would be a good place to start.

Terms and conditions

1. This competition is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland over the age of 18. Employees of Telegraph Media Group Limited and its group companies (“Promoter”), their agents or anyone else professionally associated with the competition are not eligible to enter.

2. All information detailing how to enter this competition forms part of these terms and conditions. It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final and that the competitor agrees to abide by these rules. Submission of an entry will be deemed to signify acceptance of these terms and conditions.

3. To enter this contest, entrants must submit an animal-themed poem. The poem must be in English and not exceed 40 lines.

There are two ways to enter this competition:

Entrants can email their contact details and poem (PDF or Word document only) to [email protected]


Entrants can send their application to: Poetry Desk, Telegraph Media Group, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. The participant must include his name and telephone number.

Access is limited to one per person. Once submitted, Sponsor cannot accept any changes to any part of an entry.

4. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2022.

5. All entries submitted must be the work of the person submitting them and must not have been published elsewhere or won a prize in any other competition. It is each entrant’s responsibility to ensure that their entry does not infringe any third party’s copyright or any law.

6. Copyright in all entries submitted for this contest belongs to the respective entrants. However, each entrant grants a worldwide, irrevocable and perpetual license to Telegraph Media Group Limited to feature any or all of the entries submitted in any of their publications, websites and/or in any promotional material relating to this competition. Entrants will not receive a discount for such publication, although their work will be credited.

7. Late, illegible, incomplete, defaced or corrupt entries will not be accepted. No responsibility can be accepted for lost entries and proof of transmission or posting will not be accepted as proof of receipt. Entries must not be sent through agencies or third parties.

8. Winners and runners-up will be judged according to the following criteria:


9. The jury will include:

Tristram Fane Saunders – Telegraph Culture Editor
Victoria Kennefick – Poet

The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. No comments can be provided for submitted poems, and unsuccessful entries will not receive a response.

10. Prize: The winning entrant’s poem will be published in the Daily Telegraph on Friday 27th January 2023 and the poem will be performed in a film recording by a special guest reader.

Four finalists will each have their name and poem published on The Telegraph’s Poetry Channel on Friday 27 January 2023.

11. Winner and runners-up will be notified by email or telephone no later than January 25, 2023. If Sponsor is unable to contact winners or if winners are unable to accept the prize, the ‘Organizer reserves the right to award the prize. to another entrant who, in the opinion of the judges and in accordance with these terms and conditions, is the second best entry.

12. Winner and runners-up may be required to participate in publicity on behalf of Sponsor.

13. Entrant data will be used for the purposes of administering this competition and in accordance with any permissions granted or denied at the point of entry.

14. The names and poems of the winner and runners-up will be published on Friday, January 27, 2023.

15. Prices as described are available at the date of publication. If the Sponsor is unable to publish the winner’s poem on the date indicated, the poem will be published on another date.

16. Events may occur which render the competition itself or the awarding of prizes impossible for reasons beyond the control of the Promoter and, therefore, the Promoter may, at its sole discretion, modify or modify the promotion and entrant agrees that no liability shall attach to Promoter as a result.

17. These Terms and Conditions shall be construed in accordance with English law and any dispute arising out of these Terms or their subject matter shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

Promoter: Telegraph Media Group Limited, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT.

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