2019 Christopher Tower Poetry Competition – Press Release

Every year, six young people scoop a total of £5000 in prize-money for writing a poem. Our first prize is £3000, second £1500, and third £500, with three runner-up prizes of £250 each. And all this for a poem on a set theme, judged each year by a panel of successful contemporary poets.

The theme this year is ‘Underwater’.

The competition is completely free to enter. It’s open to people aged between 16 and 18, who are in full- or part-time education in the UK. Every single entry is read and judged anonymously.

Our winners come to a presentation event in Oxford, in Christ Church, and the top three each year win places on our Tower Poetry Summer School, held every two years in August, also in Christ Church.

Since 2000, the Tower Competition has been the most lucrative award for young British poets, and has seen many winners go on to writing careers. This year, the entries will be judged by poets Angela Leighton, Vidyan Ravinthiran, and Peter McDonald.

To enter the competition, go to www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated.

The closing date for entries is the 1st of March 2019.

Winners will be announced on the 29th of March 2019.

Angela Leighton

Angela Leighton is Professor of English and Senior Research Fellow in poetry at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her books include Shelley and the Sublime (1984), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1986), Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart (1992), On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word (2007) and, most recently, Hearing Things: The Work of Sound in Literature (2018). In addition, she has published four volumes of poetry: A Cold Spell (2000), Sea Level (2007), The Messages (2012) and Spills (2016). A pamphlet, Five Poems, was published this year.

Vidyan Ravinthiran

Dr Vidyan Ravinthiran was born in Leeds, educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and has taught at the universities of Durham and Birmingham. He currently teaches at the University of Birmingham and is an editor of Prac Crit, an online magazine of poetry and poetics, as well as a selector for the Poetry Book Society. Dr Ravinthiran’s debut full-length collection Grun-tu-molani was published by Bloodaxe in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Other works include Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Bucknell, 2015), winner of both the University English Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. Poems towards his second collection, The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here, due from Bloodaxe in 2019, won a Northern Writers Award. He also writes literary journalism, most recently for Poetry (verse) and The Telegraph (fiction), and is represented as an author of fiction by the Wylie Agency.

Professor Peter McDonald

Professor Peter McDonald, FEA, is a poet, critic, and scholar. He was born in Belfast in 1962 and has been Tutor and Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge, Lecturer and Reader in English at the University of Bristol, and is the first Christopher Tower Student and Tutor in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford, and holds a lectureship in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. He has written poetry since his teens, and won the Newdigate Prize in 1983. He published his first collection of poems, Biting the Wax, in 1989, followed by Adam’s Dream (1996), Pastorals (2004), The House of Clay (2007), Torchlight (2011), and his sixth collection, Collected Poems (2012). The Homeric Hymns, a PBS recommended translation, has recently been published by Carcanet as has Herne the Hunter. McDonald has been a prolific writer on modern and contemporary poetry, and his criticism appears regularly in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review and PN Review, Thumbscrew and Metre.