As a teacher, I found the website clear, easy to use and reassuring in its values.
Kate Clanchy

I offer my thanks for giving me the opportunity to work with and encourage young writers in celebrating the name and achievement of one of Britain’s greatest poets.
John Rice

I wish the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People existed when I was 10 - it would have been like a second Christmas! You lot don't know how lucky you are!
Laura Dockrill


The John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People is a registered charity. We depend on private donors, foundations and sponsors to cover everything. If you like what we do, please help us by making a donation so that we can continue our important work. All donations of whatever size are much appreciated. Thank you.

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights,
before the dark hour of reason grows.

John Betjeman,Summoned by Bells

(c) Bryan Anderson

Established by the family of the former Poet Laureate, the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People seeks to foster a love of poetry in young people.  It is our aim to support literacy and creativity, encouraging children aged 10-13 living in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to explore the world they see around them through rhythm and language.

Each child is invited to send in (by post or online) a poem on the sense of ‘place’. They can choose anywhere that is important to them – from their bedroom to a larger landscape, from their local park to their favourite building. The subject of their poem could be a city or a garden or a beach or a street – whatever moves them to write. We are asking them to capture in words what that place means to them.

Winners of the poetry competition are invited to read their poems aloud to an audience of judges, entrants, teachers and parents as well as sponsors and press, at a prize giving held on National Poetry Day, Thursday 2nd October, on the concourse of St Pancras station, next to the bronze statue of John Betjeman by Martin Jennings.

The first prize is £1000 (£500 to the winner and £500 to the English department of their school). The top three finalists will receive four standard class Eurostar tickets from St Pancras International to Paris, Brussels or Lille, donated by Eurostar. The two runners-up will each receive £100. £50 book tokens are awarded to commended entrants.  Junior/primary schools entering a whole class will receive a copy of The Puffin Book of Modern Children’s Verse on receipt of entries and secondary/senior schools, The Rattle Bag.

We organise eight poet visits a year to schools entering the competition and over the years the feedback from teachers and pupils has been inspirational.

Past judges have included Sir Andrew Motion, Laura Dockrill, Grace Nichols, Hugo Williams, Ian McMillan and Brian Patten.  This year, the judges are the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, and the founder of Gifford Circus, Nell Gifford.

The finalists in 2014 John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People are Helen Woods, Jasmine Burgess and Noah Bodley Scott.  The winner will be announced at St Pancras on National Poetry Day. The highly commended entrants are Bella Waloschek, Cole Siepman and Matthew Hudson. The commended entrants are Jessica Georgelin, Rachel McCormack, George Willmott, Mila Perera, Archie Tyler, and Milly Bracey.

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Finalist 2014: Helen Woods, Oxford Spires Academy

Rhossili Triptych: Sea, Sand, Sky

The Sea refuses to be a Sonnet
In daytime the sea is in love with the sky; each wave
Is reaching out to touch its blue-grey face
The sea smooths gold in a blink and leaves it cold
On the sand as a piece of twisted wood.

Click here to read more

Finalist 2014: Jasmine Burgess, Oxford Spires Academy

My Oxford

A bag juts into my elbow, hard.
I'll have a bruise there tomorrow.
I stumble into a shop, see a postcard
The metallic Edwardian script
Tells me the breath-taking coiling spires, flaring,

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Finalist 2014: Noah Bodley Scott, Colyton Grammar School

A Lighthouse

It goes on
the steady beating of blue green on grey.
The crash
the lap
the sickly sway.

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Young people love poetry, and the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People is an excellent way to channel creative energy: there's a deadline, there's a subject, there are prizes...what more does a poet need?
Ian McMillan