2017 Christopher Tower Poetry Competition – Press Release

The 17th Christopher Tower Poetry Competition, the UK’s most valuable prize for young poets, has opened for entries, and this year students between 16-18 years of age are challenged to write a poem on the theme of ‘Stone’. In the 16 years of Tower Poetry’s competitions we’ve received almost 11,000 entries from almost 2,250 schools. Students from Bishop Challoner Catholic College (who have been longlisted) have entered most often, followed by the Sixth Form College, Colchester (with a winner in 2008) and thirdly Putney High School (with a winner in 2001). Over 200 different schools have been longlisted – some more than once.

Established in 2000, the Tower Prizes are recognised as among the most prestigious literary awards for this age group. The first prize is £3,000, with £1,000 and £500 going to the second and third prize-winners. In addition to individual prizes, the students’ schools and colleges also receive cash prizes of £150 and the three prizewinners are eligible for a place on the Tower Poetry Summer School. Three or four commended entries will receive £250 each. The names and schools of those longlisted will also be published on the Tower Poetry website. Entry forms are downloadable from the website and entry can be made online (or by post).

The entries will be judged this year by poets Sarah Howe and Vahni Capildeo. The 2017 competition will build on the success of earlier competitions. Many of our growing ‘alumni’ of 100 winners (2001-2016) and almost 800 longlisted, as well as 68 Summer School students, are gaining further acclaim in other competitions or within the publishing/ writing world.

The competition is open to all 16-18 year-olds who are in full or part time education in the UK, and students and schools can find out more information about the prizes and associated future events at www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize, email or call 01865 286591. Follow us on Facebook,  Twitter or YouTube.

The closing date for entries is Friday 17 February, 2017. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 19 April 2017.

Sarah Howe

Born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, Sarah Howe moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry London, The Guardian and Poetry, as well as anthologies such as Ten: The New Wave and The Best British Poetry. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit. She recently served as one the judges for the UK’s National Poetry Competition, and is currently a Leverhulme Fellow at University College London. A Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus), her debut collection, won the T S Eliot Prize 2015. Sarah was the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award for 2015.

Vahni Capildeo

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Vahni Capildeo moved to England in 1991, where she has published five poetry collections and two pamphlets including Utter (2013), Simple Complex Shapes (2015), and Measures of Expatriation (2016), completed during her Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and winner of the Forward Prizes for Poetry Best Collection 2016. She read English at Christ Church, Oxford and subsequently completed a DPhil in Old Norse and translation theory. She contributes a regular report to PN Review. The Harper-Wood Studentship (St.John’s College, Cambridge) supported her travel during 2015-16, leading to new non-fiction for Commonwealth Writers’ online magazine, adda, and two book projects, one poetry and one prose, on the boundaries between the human and the natural.