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The Edward Thomas Poetry Competition 2024 (and 2023 Results) Page

Edward Thomas Fellowship Poetry Competition 2024, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize.

Poems, unpublished,  are invited on any subject but of no more than forty lines.

Closing date January 7th 2024.

The judge will be the prize-winning poet Jane Draycott.

Prizes:1st prize  £150, two further £75 prizes and up to six highly commended of £25. Winners welcome to read at AGM on 3rd March at Steep, Hampshire.

Fees £3 per poem with a maximum of three poems entered.

Email entries: Word document, single attachment per anonymised poem ( & please mention payment method.)

Surname A- K:, to Barbara Kinnes,

L-Z to Margaret Thompson,

Please pay your fee preferably to the Fellowship’s account, 40-08-21  11250205, initial and surname as Reference, Competition as Description, or  with Paypal, first selecting the number of poems entered from the drop down menu.

No of poems entered

2023 Poetry Competition results

The 2023 Competition attracted over three hundred poems.  The judge, Jane Draycott, wrote that she found the sifting and final choices very difficult, with poems of powerful  quality, strong and strongly-felt. Jane’s full report is available here.

The First Prize  was  for ‘Marsh Angels’ by Jane Burn.

Joint Second prizes  were for  ‘Seal’  by Joanna Lowry and ‘We will be out until the Light has Gone’ by   David Thomas.

Highly recommended poems were by, Kathryn Bevis, Harriet Truscott, Shirley Nicholson, Glen Wilson, Alex McDonald and Laura Jenner.


                           Marsh Angels 

Horses, pale as bone,        pale as snow,
wick and wild, who would think such bodies
could live on waves?     Live where the water writes

such a faint line between its cool length and bleached pages
of sky,
where water makes the horses seem
to come alive twice —        once above, cannon deep and once

again beneath — a rippled self —blurred,
disturbed by the droplets falling from its own soft mouth —
a self

it seems to kiss,    whenever it stoops its milky cobble of a head
to drink.

Horse has found its own way to never be                alone.
The water holds so many mirrored friends
so gently asking nothing more
than to be beloved to another.

There is no cost but standing here,    or running here—
no price for peace
but moon, reflected moon, reflected clouds, stars,
ribbons of hardy delta grass.

The water dries upon them like second skin.      Salt skin, silver skin.
They are not afraid to live as ghosts—       babies born
in fading pelts

at their dam’s side like a beautiful stain.

The Camargue’s Cradle holds them safe,    holds their tails like spray
against the wind—
holds their speed,     their love.

their resting weight.   The sand keeps
the echoes of their feet.





Seeking the freedom of sleep I conjure myself as a seal,

sleek and swollen, edging clumsily towards the rim

of a frozen ice floe, then slipping down

into the ocean, rolling and diving, instantly free.

I picture the way I move, released from all constraint,

and deep in my belly coiled intestines, bundles

of transparent lace, floating in their own black sea.


I saw a seal’s intestines once in a museum.

I was tired from lack of sleep, and stepped out of a dark corridor.

It was flash-lit: that luminous cloak sewn from seal gut,

stretched, brittle and tissue-paper thin.

Torn from deep inside the seal’s body,

it was magical, and proof against all weather,

blizzards, ice, the arctic wind.


At night my dead husband appears on a dais

in a beam of light. Sliding those slim tweezers

down his throat he pulls out a shimmering strand of gut.

It pools in coils at his feet. He seems at that moment

pharaonic, at the mouth of a shining delta,

or at the centre of a circle of wavelets on hard black water –

where a seal has just plunged out of sight.


We Will Be Out until the Light Has Gone


We will be out until the light has gone –

Guns broken open,

Cold and hard across crooked arms.

I am a child, but I wish to be a man. So.

I roll silently into his footprints,

And hope to kill something;

To dip hands sacramentally

In blood and leaf litter,

The ring of the metal report still in my ears.

I do not understand why I want these things.

Sometimes, as we work the wood

Or carefully crab-step the quarry bank,

I think it is the broad, blind,

Damp, bullying back of him I’ll bring down.

An accident, they would surely say.

And perhaps it would have been.


Previous Years’ reports and winning poems

Reports and winning poems from previous years may be viewed and read by following this link initially.

The Fellowship has published two anthologies of previous winning poems from the competition covering the period 2017-2022. Titled A Nest of Singing Birds and Another Nest of Singing Birds these are available to buy from the Fellowship – either online or at the Edward Thomas Study Centre in Petersfield. More details and purchase information are available here.