Poet Susannah Hart Selected UK’s Prestigious National Poetry Competition Winner

1935. Children playing cards in front yard in slum area near Union Station. Photographer: Carl Mydans / courtesy of the NY Public Library

“‘Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.” Maurice Riordan



Susannah Hart has been chosen as the winner of the prestigious National Poetry Competition, with her poem Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.

Judges Mona Arshi, Helen Mort and Maurice Riordan selected the winning poem from 16,659 poems entered into the competition from 6,979 poets in 87 countries, including entries from every EU member state. All of the poems were read anonymously by the judges.

Told in a single long sentence that intensifies the momentum and the sense of building desperation, Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy uses the dispassionate language of bureaucracy and policy to counterbalance the cruelty and descriptions of acts of violence in the poem.

Judge Maurice Riordan said of the poem: “Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.”

Susannah Hart’s win follows on from her acclaimed debut collection, Out of True, which won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah’s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London.

Susannah said of the win: “It’s a mixture of disbelief and delight. I’m genuinely astonished that I’ve won. I enter the competition almost every year and have been longlisted a couple of times, but you never enter expecting to actually win. I feel very honoured to join the list of winners. For personal reasons, it’s also great to have this particular poem recognised. I’ve been a primary school governor for many years and I think this is the only poem that has arisen directly from that experience, so it feels very special to have that part of my life acknowledged. I remember telling my governor colleagues that I had written a poem about the Safeguarding policy and I think they thought I was joking.”

About the poem, Susannah said: “The poem’s original draft came quite quickly. I did in fact go for a walk after reading the policy, feeling very upset by what it contained – what it needed to contain – and I found myself thinking about ‘all the horrible things that someone somewhere is always doing to someone else’. And then when I looked at the draft of the poem I realised I could make more of the bureaucratic language that was already in there, so I looked again at the wording of the policy and lifted some more phrases from it.”

Since it began in 1978 the National Poetry Competition has been an important milestone in the careers of many of today’s leading poets, with previous winners including Helen Dunmore, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison.

Internationally praised and recognised, the National Poetry Competition continues to see an increase in entries year-on- year (2019 saw an 18 per cent increase in poems and a 17 per cent increase in entrants compared with 2018). Awarding a total of £9,400 prize money annually, the competition recognises individual poems previously unpublished, in an anonymised judging process. The judges only discover the identity of the winner after making their final decision.

Nine other winners were also named in the National Poetry Competition, including Ann Pelletier-Topping for her poem Granddaughter Moves In (Second Prize, £2,000), Natalie Linh Bolderston for Middle Name with Diacritics (Third Prize, £1,000) and seven commended poets (£200 each): Joe Dunthorne for Due to a series of ill judgements on my part; Charlotte Knight for MOONDADDY; Mark Pajak for Reset; Rosie Shepperd for Letter from Kermanshah; Louisa Adjoa Parker for Kindness; Cheryl Moskowitz for Hotel Grief; and Gerald Smith for Where Dedushka Comes From. All the winning poems will be published on The Poetry Society’s website. The top three poems are also published in the Spring 2020 issue of the leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review.


First Prize for Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

SUSANNA HART‘s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London. She has won several prizes for her work and her debut collection Out of True won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah is on the board of Magma. She works as a freelance copywriter and is a long-serving governor at her local primary school. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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Poetry by Susannah Hart:


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The next National Poetry Competition opens in May. Entry forms will be available online HERE. The closing date is 31st October 2020.


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The Poetry Society (U.K.) announces the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 winners, best poets from around the world

Sixth Chancellor of the University of Salford Installation of Chancellor Professor Jackie Kay MBE – University of Salford, Peel Hall Sixth Chancellor of the University of Salford, April 29, 2015 / photo courtesy of University of Salford Press Office under CC BY 2.0

“If poetry is the language of being human, here we have poets speaking in every cadence possible. We were happy to get a sense of how many poets come from all different corners of the world – for there are no borders or boundaries to cross in the world of poetry and no one need carry a passport to get in.” Jackie Kay and Raymond Antrobus, Judges, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019


This week the Poetry Society (U.K.) announced the top fifteen winners and eighty-five commended poets in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 at an awards ceremony at The Southbank Centre, London.

Run by The Poetry Society and generously supported by The Foyle Foundation, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award celebrates its twenty-first anniversary this year. Since 1998, the Award has been finding, celebrating and supporting the very best young poets from around the world. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is firmly established as the leading competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years old.

This year the competition drew over 11,000 poems from over 6,000 young poets. Young writers from 76 countries entered the competition, from as far afield as Vietnam, Romania, Mexico and Japan, and every corner of the UK. From these poems this year’s judges Jackie Kay and Raymond Antrobus selected 100 winners, made up of fifteen top poets and eighty-five commended poets.

“This year over 6,000 poets entered the competition, proving to us how many people are turning to poetry to express themselves in these times. There were poems that experimented with style, using the language of social media and of text. Serious and surreal poems sit side by side in this wide-ranging collection. Witty poems and sad poems shake hands with each other. We were delighted to get such a strong sense of poetry being a living, breathing relevant form that keeps changing across generations.”

Winners of the award receive a range of prizes to help develop their writing. The top fifteen poets are invited to attend a residential writing course at the Arvon residential centre The Hurst in Shropshire in Spring 2020. There they spend a week with experienced tutors focusing on improving their poetry and establishing a community of writers. All one-hundred winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag stuffed full of books donated by  generous sponsors. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to a paid internship programme.

The top fifteen poems are going to be published in a printed winners’ anthology (also available online) from March 2020. The eighty-five commended poems will appear in an online anthology.

Both anthologies showcase the talent of the winners and are distributed free to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world.

Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society, said of this year’s competition:

“A huge congratulations to all 100 young poets and a massive thank you to our judges. It’s the enthusiasm and dedication of young people and teachers around the world that has made the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award the great success it is today. We hope that the quality of the writing and the support The Poetry Society provides to our young poets will inspire even more young writers to enter the competition in future years.”

The top 15 Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019 are:

Suzanne Antelme, 18*, Guildford
Dana Collins, 18*, London
Annie Davison, 16, Oxford
Thomas Frost, 18*, Strathy, Scotland
Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, 17, Rotherham Jean Klurfeld 16, New York

Nadia Lines, 17, Hertfordshire
Cia Mangat, 17, Ealing, London
Em Power, 17, London
Talulah Quinto, 13, Ross-on Wye, Herefordshire Trinity Robinson, 16, Durham

Libby Russell 17, East Sussex
Amy Saunders, 13, London
Lydia Wei, Gaithersburg, 16, Maryland, USA Helen Woods, 18*, Oxford

*18-year-old winners were 17 when they entered.

This post is courtesy of the Poetry Society, Wikipedia and Amazon.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton