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Judging Guidelines

Not sure how to assess a poem fairly? What makes a truly great poem? Check out our guide below to get a better idea of what to look for.

Our complimentary guide is just that - a guide! You may choose to judge on parameters not mentioned here, or choose to consider our comments as your point of reference.

Bear in mind when judging that all poems nominated in the contest will be displayed anonymously. Try to be objective and judge kindly! Enjoy reading our nominated entries... we’re proud to boast them in our contest!

So, what should I look for in a winning entry?

Form and structure:

  • A poem should be well thought-out and structured.
  • A poem should have a clear structure that compliments and enhances the content.
  • Are lines and stanzas used meaningfully and to good effect?
  • Is the poem unnecessarily long or short?
  • How is punctuation used to set the tempo of the poem, to create pauses, line breaks or emphasis?
  • How is the subject or narrative of the poem presented, does it flow well? Is the poem paced well?

Rhythm and Rhyme:

  • A good poem doesn’t necessarily rhyme!
  • A rhyming poem should be judged according to its success in communicating meaning — deciding whether to use rhyme is a creative choice on the writer’s part.
  • Does the poem flow well when read, is it absorbing and easy to follow?
  • Is there a satisfying rhythm to the lines or words of the poem, do the words ask to be read out loud?

Choice of words & Readability:

  • The English language should be utilised to its best using whatever poetic devices, punctuation or imagery possible to create the strongest impact in a compact way — this is the essence of poetry, and what stands it apart from prose.
  • Words should be well-chosen and well-placed to express the intention or emotion the poet wishes to convey.

Is the poem powerful? Moving? Enlightening or entertaining?

  • The reader should feel transported for a moment, to the world-view of the writer.
  • The poem should move the reader to feel for themselves, that which the writer wishes to convey.
  • Does the poem stay with you after having read it?
  • Does the poem affect you, challenge you, enchant you or make you want to read more or know more from the author?

Enter the competition

Submit your best poem to the contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and gain worldwide recognition for your talent!

Our monthly contest

In a nutshell…

Opens: 1st of every calendar month.
Closes: End of every calendar month.
Results: Within 7 days of closing.
Entry fee: 25 USD.
Max. participants: 150 entries.
First Place Badge + 500
Second Place Badge + 300
Third Place Badge + 200
5 Runners-up Personalized Mug
POTY Badge + 1,000

September 2023

Poetry Contest

Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.


Previous Contests

Here are direct links to our previous contests' summary pages.

 What people are saying

“Thank you for the wonderful gift that I received as a runner up for the January contest. The competition has inspired me to go and get my collection of poetry that I have written for my family — you are an amazing group!”

Janette Marais, South Africa

 Worldwide Recognition

We’re delighted to announce that we've been named one of best writing contests for 2022 and 2023 by Reedsy!

Reedsy Best Writing Contests 2022 Reedsy Best Writing Contests 2023