2024 Poetry Competition Rules


1: The start date for the Poetry Competition will be 1st May.

2: All entries must be received by midnight on 31st October.

3: Entries can be from anywhere in the world.

4: UK entries may be submitted online or by post. Overseas entries must be submitted online.

5: Postal entries can only be accepted from within the UK.

6: Postal entries must be accompanied by an entry form and the appropriate entry fee and addressed to The Administrator, The Bedford Competition, 28 Miller Road, Bedford, MK42 9NZ.

7: One entry form, whether submitted online or posted, may cover up to three poems. Multiple entry forms may be submitted.

8: Online entries will generate an automatic confirmation of receipt at the time of submission.

9: A confirmation of receipt of a postal entry will be sent to the email address, if supplied, otherwise the entrant should enclose a stamped addressed envelope/postcard.

10: There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may submit.


11: The competition is open to anyone aged 17 years and over.

12: If your poem has been long-listed or shortlisted in other competitions, and provided it has not won a prize or been published, it is eligible.

13; Simultaneous submissions are allowed but will become ineligible should the poem win a prize elsewhere or be published prior to it being judged.

14: You must inform us immediately should your poem be published or win a prize elsewhere.

15: The members of the organising committee, patrons and judges are not eligible to enter the competition.

Entry Fees

16: The standard entry fee is £8.50 per poem; three poems entered on the same form £17.00.

17: For full time students, the entry fee is £6.00 per poem; three poems entered on the same form £12.00.

18: Cheques must be made payable to Bedford Writing Competition.

Poem format (all poems)

19: Poems must not have been published, self-published, published on a website, broadcast, been placed first, second or third, or been awarded a prize in any other competition.

20: Poems must be no more than 40 lines. Title not included in the line count.

21: Poems must be written in English.

22: If a poem does not have a title, the first line will be used to identify the poem.

23: Poems must be typed, and in a readable, 12 point font.

24: Nothing must appear on any page which would identify the author.

25: Poems will not be returned, so please retain a copy.

26: Poems cannot be altered once entered.

27. Poems created using any AI technology will be rejected.

Poem format (online entries)

27: The following are acceptable electronic file formats: .doc .docm .docx .dot .dotm .dotx .odt .txt.

Poem format (postal entries)

28: Poems must be on single-sided sheets.

29: Each sheet must have a page number.

30: The title of the poem must appear at the top of each sheet.

31: The complete set of sheets must be held together with a paperclip.


32: All entries will be considered anonymously by the relevant judge.

33: Judging is fair and unbiased. The judge’s decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into.

34: The Bedford Competition reserves the right to change the panel of judges without notice.


35: If a poem does not comply with the formatting rules, it will be disqualified.

36: If, before a poem has been judged, it is published or wins a prize in another competition, it will be disqualified.

37: Any plagiarised work will be disqualified along with any other work submitted by the entrant.

38: Any Poems created using any AI technology will be rejected.

39: Entry fees will not be returned in the event that a poem is disqualified.

Competitions and Prizes

40: Poetry Competition

    1. Open to all eligible entrants
    2. The Poetry Competition winners will receive, first prize £1500, second prize £300 and third prize £200.

41: Bedford Poetry Prize

    1. Open to eligible entrants who are residents of Bedford.
    2. A resident of Bedford is defined as living at an address in any of the postcode areas, MK40, MK41, MK42, MK43, MK44 and MK45.
    3. The winner of the Bedford Poetry Prize will receive £100.

42: Cygnature Poetry Prize

    1. Open to eligible entrants who are aged 17-25 years on the date the competition opens for entries, 1st May.
    2. The winner of the Cygnature Poetry Prize will receive £200.

43: A poem can only win one of the above prizes.

44: The prizewinning and shortlisted poems from each competition will be published in an anthology as a downloadable e-book and a hardcopy paperback, after the results have been announced.

45: The copyright of the poem belongs to the author.

46: The competition organisers reserve the right not to award prizes if, in the judge’s opinion, such an action is justified.

Announcement of results

47: A timetable for the announcement of results will made public once the date of closure for entries has been passed.

48: A long list for the Poetry Competition will be drawn up and posted on the competition website when it is available.

49: A shortlist for the Poetry Competition will be drawn up and posted on the competition website when it is available and eligibility has been verified.

50: If a poem is shortlisted or has won the Bedford Poetry Prize or the Cygnature Poetry Prize then, once this has been made public, it cannot be withdrawn and its publication will take precedence over the requirement of any other competitions the poem may have been entered in.

51: The results of all the competitions will be announced at a Presentation of Awards Event


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