Send us a poem on a political theme to win a £200 prize!

Poetry and politics go well together and there is a powerful tradition of poets shedding light on social, cultural and economic events. Particularly in times of uncertainty, poems can appeal to the imagination and provide a creative context for revealing and understanding changes in society.

In previous festivals we have asked the public to send us alternative manifesto ideas and photographs on re-imagining Belfast. This year we are interested in receiving short poems on a political theme in association with our festival partner, Community Arts Partnership.

We are particularly interested in hearing from unpublished poets and people who have never thought about writing poetry before.

So if you have a burning issue to get off your chest, why not try your hand at writing a few verses about it? This could take the form of a limerick or a haiku or just a few lines of an inspirational rant! We welcome all contributions and during the festival we hope to publish a selection on this website. We are also interested in staging a showcase after the festival of the best poems received, where you can, if you wish, share your poem with a room of like-minded souls! Watch this space for details.

what are we looking for?

In order to enter your short poem, it must be about a political aspect. It could be about a local issue or a global event or something you want you want to see changed in the world. The opportunities of this theme are endless and we will take a broad view of what constitutes political content. However our judges will be looking for an imaginative use of language and whether it inspires a reaction and engages an audience on a political theme.

what is the prize?

The author of the winning poem will receive £200. The successful poem and a selection of the other submissions will be published on this website.

judging panel

We are grateful to our panel of judges who will select the winning entry and read all the poems submitted. The decisions of the panel are final. Our judges are the published poets Pádraig Ó Tuama, Chelley McLear alongside festival director Peter O’Neill.


  • The poem has to be written in English. Unfortunately, translations are not accepted.
  • Poems should not exceed 10 lines or 100 words in total.
  • The poem must be your original work.
  • You can only send in one poem.
  • You allow us to publish the poem on our website and social media platforms.
  • We can only accept email submissions.

when is the closing date?

The competition closes on 26 March 2017 at midnight GMT. The winner will be announced before the end of March. We are organising a workshop on Monday 20 March at 2pm to help people interested in submitting a poem. This event is facilitated by Chelley McLear, Poetry in Motion Community Co-Ordinator at Community Arts Partnership. Register here.

how to submit your entry

Please email us at this address: The poem must be attached as a single Microsoft Word or PDF file. Please include your name and phone number in the body of the message and not in the attached document.

We look forward to receiving and reading your poem.


To give you some inspiration, here are a few examples:

Harlem by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

From The Second Coming  by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

We Lived Happily During the War by Ilya Kaminsky

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
In my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.