2015 Writing Competitions Are Now Open

IMG_4723We are delighted that announce that the 2015 Ilkley Literature Festival writing competitions are now open for entries.

Poet and author of And When Did You Last See Your Father? Blake Morrison will be judging the Adult Poetry Competition, while novelist and Professor of Contemporary Literature at Manchester University Patricia Duncker will pick the winner in the Adult Short Story Competition.

Blake Morrison is a poet, author and journalist. His non-fiction books include And When Did You Last See Your Father? (1993), which won the J. R. Ackerley Prize and the Esquire/Volvo/Waterstone’s Non-Fiction Book Award, As If (1997), about the murder of the toddler James Bulger in Liverpool in 1993, and a memoir of his mother, Things My Mother Never Told Me (2002). His poetry includes the collections Dark Glasses (1984), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award.


Patricia Duncker is the author of Hallucinating Foucault (Dillons First Fiction Award and the McKitterick Prize), The Deadly Space Between, James Miranda Barry and Miss Webster and Chérif (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize). Two books of short fiction, Monsieur Shoushana’s Lemon Trees (shortlisted for the Macmillan Silver Pen Award) and Seven Tales of Sex and Death. And most recently, The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge (shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and Green Carnation Prize).

Winners will receive £200 and be invited, alongside runners up and commended writers, to read at the Festival in October 2015.

Closing Date for receipt of entries: Friday 31 July 2015                                                    Prize winners will be notified by Thursday 1 October 2015

Download the full information and entry form.

Sponsored by Leeds Trinity University. Leeds Trinity University Logo 2012




IMG_9020Don’t forget we also have the Children’s Poetry Competition and Young People’s Writing Competition which offer budding young writers the opportunity to read their work at the 2015 Ilkley Literature Festival.

Good luck to everyone entering!

Words in the City 2015 Poetry Slam Competition

The Bradford Poetry Slam is one of my favourite gigs. There’s nothing quite like performing to an audience, behind which is the whole of Centenary Square where, if it’s a sunny day, the entirety of Bradford seem congregate. It makes for that organic kind of gig where passers-by feel their ears prick and find themselves casually joining the audience. No-one is there because they’re trapped; they’re there because they want to see what’s going on. And as a poet, part of your job is to let them know: not just what’s going on around them, but what’s going on inside them.

IMG_4220In that way, a poetry tent in a public place makes it a very private place, too. It’s becomes a place where people have to walk over and lean in. It makes me think of people raving on soap boxes in London and around the world; places where people’s voices are democratised and insistent and earnest. That’s definitely the kind of poetry I want.

– Andy Cook, 2014 Slam Winner

Saturday 6 June, 5.15-6.15pm, Waterstones, Bradford
Hosted by Michelle Scally Clarke
Slam Judges:  Joshua Seigal

  • Do you want to be part of the 2015 Words in the City Slam?
  • Do you have 2 poems no longer than 3 minutes each?
  • Are you free to perform on the outdoor stage on Sat 6 June?
  • Are you used to reading/performing your work to an audience?*
  • Are you 18 or over?

If the answer is YES to these questions, then read on…

With only 3 minutes to enthral the audience and judges, the Poetry Slam gives poets the chance to read their new poems at Words in the City.

There will be 8 places for poets at the Slam. All poets will read in Round 1; the judges then shortlist 4 poets who read in Round 2. The highest score over the two rounds is the winner; the second highest score is the runner-up. Judges will rate both the quality of the poem and performance, marking each out of 10.


  • 15 minute slot at Ilkley Literature Festival in October
  • Waterstones book tokens worth £20
  • The two poems you read published on the Ilkley Literature Festival website


  • 15 minute slot at Ilkley Literature Festival in October
  • Waterstones book tokens worth £10
  • The two poems you read published on the Ilkley Literature Festival website

If you want to be one of this year’s slammers, email info@ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk with a brief cv (max 100 words) including your links to Bradford and one poem (you don’t have to read this poem at the Slam). We’ll be selecting 8 performers based on the CV and the poem you submit – and we’d love a wide range of ages and genres.

Extended Deadline for submissions: Tuesday 26 May 2015
We’ll let you know by Friday 29 May at the latest if you have been selected to compete.

Please note, the Poetry Slam takes place in a public area so you will need to be mindful of the diverse family audience when you select the poems you are to perform.

*We’re sorry, this slam isn’t suitable for complete beginners, but if you’re used to reading and performing your work to an audience then please apply.