The 2021 International Book & Pamphlet Competition is now open for entries

Judged by Daljit Nagra & Pascale Petit

DEADLINE: last post on Monday 1st March 2021, or midnight on Monday 1st March 2021 for online entrants.

ENTRY FEE: £28, or £25 for North subscribers, Friends of the Poetry Business and members of the Poetry Society.*

A number of free entries are available for those who cannot afford the entry fee. Click here for full details.

PRIZES: Publication by Smith|Doorstop Books; a share of £2,000 cash; a launch reading; publication in the North magazine; book vouchers from Inpress Books and more. 

The Poetry Business is delighted to announce that the 35th International Book & Pamphlet Competition judged by Daljit Nagra & Pascale Petit is now open for entries.

The Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition remains the most established pamphlet competition in the UK. The Competition continues to discover and publish outstanding new poets, many of whom go on to publish widely and celebrate successful writing careers.

Entrants are invited to submit a collection of 20 pages of poetry. Four winners will be selected by the judges to be published by our award winning imprint, Smith|Doorstop books.

All winners will receive close editing, extending their entry up to 28 pages and are guaranteed pamphlet publication. There is also an opportunity to submit a full-length manuscript, which, Where the judges feel it is appropriate, will be published as a book in the autumn of 2021.

Full-price entry is £28. Subscribers to The North, Friends of the Poetry Business, and members of the Poetry Society are eligible for the discounted fee of £25. All entrants will also receive a 20% code that can be used to purchase books or memberships from the Poetry Book Society website books at www.poetrybooks.co.uk. A discount code will be sent to you by e-mail upon receipt of your entry to the competition.

Daljit Nagra’s four poetry collections (Faber & Faber) have won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Book, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award, and been shortlisted for the Costa Prize and twice for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the LRB and the TLS. Inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, Daljit is a PBS New Generation Poet, presents Poetry Extra, and serves on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature.

Pascale Petit’s eighth collection, Tiger Girl (Bloodaxe Books, 2020), was shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Collection, and includes the winner of the 2020 Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize. Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) won the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018 and was shortlisted for the inaugural Laurel Prize. Four previous collections were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Serbian and French.

A number of free entries are available for those who cannot afford the entry fee. Click here to apply. Click here to read the International Book & Pamphlet Competition Conditions of entry.

Entries can be submitted by post to our office address (with a cheque made out to ‘The Poetry Business’ and completed entry form) Or online by clicking the button below.


Announcing the Winners of the 2020 International Book & Pamphlet Competition

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 International Book & Pamphlet Competition as chosen by Imtiaz Dharker and Ian McMillan. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all entrants for letting us see your work.

Judge’s Comment

The thing I loved most about judging this competition was that it felt like a secret preview into exciting new work, and not just one poem but a solid body of writing from each poet. Manuscript after manuscript, the quality was spectacular, so by the end there were some hard choices to make. There were a great number of excellent portfolios and there were many on the shortlist that I would hope to hear more of in the future.

However, after reading, rereading and letting the poems lie for a while, there were some that just took up residence. For Ian and me, the final choices were unanimous. It’s good to think these poems will be published and go out into the world to find a wider audience.

Imtiaz Dharker

Rosalind Easton

for her collection, Black Mascara (Waterproof)

Black Mascara (Waterproof) is full of wicked invention, retelling the story of a road crash love affair through the muscular language of the racing bike and the Campagnolo Super Record groupset. Catching sight of a former lover ‘makes my iPhone flicker/ with the ghost of a Nokia brick’. All kinds of inanimate things come alive enthusiastically in these poems: the stiletto heel, the music stand, the microphone, a wand with no spells, making every poem a delightful surprise. — Imtiaz Dharker

I really enjoyed the ambition and the craft in this pamphlet; the poet is confident and skilful enough to write in long lines with or without stanza or couplet breaks or in tight pieces of prose that ripple over the mind long after you’ve read them. Love and the possibilities of love and intimacy are examined and celebrated and quotidian adventures like bra fittings and running mascara are given the power of myth. — Ian McMillan

Rosalind Easton grew up in Salisbury and now lives in South East London, where she works as an English teacher. After a first degree at Exeter University, she spent several years as a dance teacher before completing her PGCE at Bristol and MA at Goldsmiths. She is currently working on her PhD thesis on Sarah Waters. Black Mascara (Waterproof) will be her first published work.


Jill Penny

for her collection, In Your Absence

In Your Absence is a searingly  accurate enactment of a traumatic incident and loss. The language is spare and controlled, stepping carefully around the territory of waiting, the rituals of attending a hospital bedside, the terrible confusion of death and its aftermath, ‘the phone call came whilst signing for a suitcase at the hospital/ the police station/ the lost and found/… or in the desperate late night café…’— Imtiaz Dharker

I was bowled over by the confidence of this pamphlet; the way the writer was unafraid to tackle long-ish sequences, pieces that were almost dialogue, lyric poems and very tiny lines juxtaposed with longer lines. I had the sense that poet was unafraid of using language for their own ends; in other words they didn’t feel bound by the conventions of what a pamphlet of poems might be. Death, love, loss and an urgent need to take note of these things before their associations pass gave a burning ‘carpe diem’ tone to the pieces. — Ian McMillan

Jill Penny was born in Lancashire and now lives in the hills above  Hebden Bridge , West Yorkshire. From a theatre and arts background, she is a time served member of the team at The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank in Heptonstall. Her poetry has been published in The Raving Beauties Anthology of Women Poets, No Holds Barred, poetrykit.org online and The North. She is currently studying for an M.A. in Creative Writing at Manchester Met.


Wendy Pratt

for her collection, When I Think of My Body as a Horse

When I Think of My Body as a Horse is packed with images of the body in transformation of one kind or another, from the very first ‘nothing to me now/ but a sudden startle of feathers’  to the title poem, ‘another thing/ I need to love and care for.// We do not share a language’. Through cycles of pregnancy and grief, there is an animal momentum to the poems that gives the whole sequence its sustained power. — Imtiaz Dharker

These are powerful, heartbreaking but ultimately transcendent poems about loss, grieving and recovery and what I found most affecting in them was the way they often look through the prism of the natural world. Hares, rabbits, horses make us look hard at ourselves and our place in the order of things and through the skill of the writer we become somehow more human, more complex the more we look into the eyes of these creatures. There are many tropes of writing about loss but this poet skilfully and gloriously avoided them all, which is no mean feat.— Ian McMillan

Wendy Pratt lives and works on the North Yorkshire coast. She is a full time poet, author and workshop facilitator. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines and journals including The North, Acumen, Envoi and Butcher’s Dog. She is also a columnist for Yorkshire Life magazine and a theatre reviewer for The Stage. Wendy is the author of four collections of poetry and has won several notable competitions. She is currently working on a novel, but keeps finding herself writing poems instead. 


Sarah Wimbush

for her collection, The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster

The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster is a vivid love poem to the changing landscape of South Yorkshire and its residents. The poet suggests the teeming life of the place with language that rolls along on its own lively music and images that sing. ‘I could catch this language… place it in their palm to hold like a squab and watch it swell…’ Here, an astronaut’s ‘small step’ spins out to become an affectionate portrait of a father, and the simple act of sharpening a pencil becomes a thing of beauty. — Imtiaz Dharker

I felt drawn to these poems partly because I know the area the poet is writing about; places like Highfields, Brodsworth Hall, Bentley. I guess this meant that I could sniff out any linguistic and cultural wrong notes but there were none. The writing felt local and universal like much good writing does and the phrasing captured the power and majesty of the way the people of that part of Doncaster speak. It felt like the poet was saying new things about old subjects like The Miners’ Strike and growing up, and there was a powerful anger in the poems that didn’t overwhelm them but fuelled their articulacy. — Ian McMillan

Sarah Wimbush comes from Doncaster and currently lives in Leeds. After winning the Yorkshire Post Short Story Competition in 2011 she began writing poetry with poems appearing in Brittle Star, The Interpreter’s House, The North and Stand. She was awarded first prize in the Red Shed and the Mslexia Poetry Competitions 2016, and second prize in the 2019 Ledbury Poetry Competition. In 2019 her entry won the Mslexia/PBS Poetry Pamphlet Competition and she received a Northern Writers’ Award. Her debut pamphlet Bloodlines (Seren, 2020) explores her Traveller heritage.


Poems by all four winners of the 2020 International Book & Pamphlet Competition will feature in the forthcoming issue of The North magazine, issue 65, which is out this Winter. 

A Book & Pamphlet winners reading will he held at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere in Spring 2021, and the four winning pamphlets will be published in Feb 2021. 

The 2021 International Book & Pamphlet Competition will open for entries on 1st October 2020. 


The Judges

Imtiaz Dharker’s six collections of poetry include Over the Moon and Luck is the Hook. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014, she has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library and worked on projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull, as well as the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral. She is also an artist and video film-maker.

Ian McMillan is a poet and performer who presents The Verb on BBC Radio 3. His many poetry residencies include with Barnsley FC, and he has worked extensively for BBC TV and radio. He is the author of several books and pamphlets, including a Selected Poems and the memoir Summat and Nowt. Ian likes to work across art forms, but most of all he likes reading new poems, which is a good thing!

Ann and Peter Sansom are directors of the Poetry Business and editors of The North magazine and Smith|Doorstop books. Ann’s publications include Romance and In Praise of Men & Other People (Bloodaxe) and Peter’s include Writing Poems (Bloodaxe) and Selected Poems (Carcanet).

See the list of past winners.

Each and every year The Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition discovers and publishes exciting and substantial new poets…There’s no doubt that this is a career-changing poetry competition. If you’ve got a solid body of work that you’re pleased to have written, there’s nowhere better to send it.

The Poetry Trust

One of the career milestones for very many poets of note

Anne-Marie Fyfe

I’ve judged a lot of contests, but I can’t recall any where the quality of the poems – one manuscript after another – was so high

Billy Collins, 2015 competition judge