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... launched 2021

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The inaugural Rosemary McLeish Poetry Prize was open for entries on the theme of 'Nature' from 6 December 2021 to 11 March 2022. Longlisted entrants have been notified and are listed below. The winners were announced at Welcome to Cloisterham on 5 June 2022. If you would like to buy the winners' anthology - please click here.

Rosemary McLeish Poetry Prize winning poems 2021

1st Place - Owl Pellet at Grey Wethers – Sue Proffitt

2nd Place - Bringing the outside in – Bronach Rae

3rd Place - High Water – Helen Kay

Highly Commended: 

Ambisagrus – Sam Hickford

Oak, at Lammas – Lauren Mason


On Knowing When It's Time - Veronica Aaronson

Rewild – Philip Kane

Final Shortlist:

Apples – Sarah Tait

Owls – Gareth Writer-Davies

The Drawer Under the Hill – Anthony Watts


I Am The Road With Its Worn, White Lines – Sarah L Dixon
Stone And Ash – Mary Anne Smith Sellen
West Coast Return – KF MacCarthy

This Island Anyway – Jennifer A McGowan
Nimbostratus – Helen Moore
Perfecting Your Collection – Roger Elkin
After Eirlys – Chris Kinsey
On The Road To Kochi, Shikoku, Japan – Margaret Beston
Birdgirl – Rebecca Lehmann
The Yew Trees – Corinna Board



About Rosemary McLeish

Rosemary McLeish was a poet and artist who died from cancer in 2020. Her two collections of poetry I am a field and Defragmentation are published by Wordsmithery. 

We wanted to set up a prize in her name to support and promote writers, which is something Rosemary was always very keen to do. In this first year of the prize, the theme is 'Nature' as this is something which was always strong in Rosemary's work, and the topic of her first collection I am a field.

We were delighted to have as our guest judge Jane Burn.

Jane Burn is an Pushcart/Forward Prize nominated, multi award winning, working class, bi, neurodivergent poet and artist who lives for most of the year with her family in an off-grid cottage in Northumberland. Her poems are widely published, in magazines like The Rialto, Under the Radar, The Friday Poem and Poetry Wales to name a few, as well as many anthologies from publishers like Culture Matters, Seren and The Emma Press. She is in the second year of an MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University and her latest collection, Be Feared, is published by Nine Arches Press. She has also recently been awarded an Arts Council grant to pursue her neurodivergent hybrid writing practises and theories. 

The prize fund has been generously funded by Rosemary's widower, Richard Cooper. 



  1. The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over at the time of entering who lives in the UK.

  2. The closing date of the competition is midnight (UK time), 11 March 2022.

  3. There is no limit on the number of entries a single entrant can make. All entries will be considered anonymously by the judges.

  4. Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy.

  5. Under no circumstances can alterations be made to poems once entered.

  6. Entrants will receive confirmation by email within 24 hours, if you haven’t received acknowledgement within 24 hours, please check your spam folder. If there is still no acknowledgement, please email

  7. The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice and not to award prizes if, in the judges’ opinion, such an action is justified.

  8. The judges will be a representative of Wordsmithery and an invited external judge.

  9. The judges will read all the entries; their decision is final. Neither the judges nor Wordsmithery staff will enter into any correspondence.

  10. No current employee of Wordsmithery is eligible to enter the Rosemary McLeish Poetry Prize.

  11. Any queries, please email



  1. All entries will be judged anonymously and the poet’s name must not appear on the poem itself.

  2. All poems must have a title and must not exceed 50 lines in length (excluding title). Entries can be on any interpretation of ‘Nature’.

  3. Poems must be in English.

  4. Poems must be the entrant’s original work.

  5. Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media, broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before 31 July 2022.

  6. No simultaneous submissions.


  1. Entry is online. To enter the competition, please pay the appropriate fee on Paypal.

  2. The first poem in a submission costs £3. Subsequent poems cost £2.

  3. Payment is made via PayPal (a PayPal account is not needed, choose ‘Pay By Debit or Credit Card’ after selecting an option.)  

  4. Our paypal address is:

  5. Email your submissions to - please include the following reference: 'Rosemary McLeish Prize' and the reference number from PayPal.

  6. Please submit all poems on one document via a word or docx attachment.

  7. Please include your name, contact details and address in the body of the email.

  8. No names should appear on the submitted document.

  9.  We do not accept postal entries.

  10. All poems will be anonymised prior to the judges reading them.

Long listed, short listed and winning entries

  1. All entrants and long listed poets will be notified by the end of May 2022.

  2. Short listed poets will be selected from the longlist by the end of June 2022 and invited to an awards event (which may be online, if any future public health restrictions arise,) in July 2022. All winners will be expected to provide a biography and photograph.

  3. The copyright of each poem remains with the author. However, authors of the long listed, short listed and winning poems, by entering the competition, grant Wordsmithery the right to publish their poem in a Prize Winners’ Anthology.


  1. All long listed, short listed and winning poems will be published in a Prize Winners’ Anthology, which all long listed, short listed and winners will receive a free printed copy of. (Additional copies will be available at cost price.) All longlisted, shortlisted and winning poets will also receive a copy of one of Rosemary McLeish’s poetry books in pdf, or print.  

  2. The first prize is £500, plus a small piece of original artwork by Rosemary McLeish.

  3. The second prize is £200

  4. The third prize is £100

  5. A number of commendations may be awarded at the discretion of the judging panel.

photo of Rosemary McLeish
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