The Christopher Tower Poetry Prize 2013 – closing date March 1st


The Christopher Tower Poetry Competition, the UK’s most valuable prize for young poets, is once again open for entries, and this year students between 16-18 years of age are challenged to write a poem on the theme of ‘The Details’.

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.

The entries will be judged this year by poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Carrie Etter and Peter McDonald. At the launch of the latest competition, Carrie Etter said: “I expect ‘The Details” to be a wonderfully fruitful topic. After all, one of the great pleasures of poetry lies in the perfectly precise or unexpected detail. I look forward to such encounters among the submissions.”

The 2013 competition will build on the success of earlier competitions. Previous prizewinners such as Caroline Bird, Helen Mort, Richard O’Brien, Charlotte Runcie, Anna Lewis and Annie Katchinska are now 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, and students and schools can find out more information about the prizes and associated future events at www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize, or email info@towerpoetry.org.uk or call 01865 286591. Follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tower-Poetry/101808106554586?ref=hl or @TowerPoetry on Twitter or YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/christophertower1 . The closing date for entries is Friday 1 March, 2013

Notes to editors:

  • Bernard O’Donoghue is a noted contemporary Irish poet and academic. Born in Cullen, County Cork, Ireland in 1945, he moved to Manchester, England when he was 16, where he attended St Bede’s College. He has lived in Oxford, England since 1965. O’Donoghue is currently fellow and tutor in Old English and Medieval English, Linguistics and the History of the English Language at Wadham College, Oxford University. He was previously Reader at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was a colleague of John Fuller and David Norbrook. He supports Manchester City Football Club. In 2006, Penguin Books published O’Donoghue’s new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. O’Donoghue has a wide range of specialities. He has written on courtly love, Thomas Hoccleve and Seamus Heaney. His published poetry collections include Poaching Rights (1987), The Absent Signifier (1990), The Weakness (1991), Gunpowder (1995, which won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry), and Here Nor There (1999), Poaching Rights (1999) and Outliving (2003).
  • Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter obtained her MFA in creative writing and PhD in English from the University of California, Irvine. Since 2001 she has lived in England, where she is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New Republic, Poetry Review, Stand, TLS, and numerous other journals and anthologies. She has published two collections, The Tethers (Seren, 2009), winner of the London New Poetry Award 2010 for the best first collection published in the UK and Ireland in the preceding year, and Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011); she also edited Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010). She reviews contemporary poetry for The Guardian and has blogged since 2005 at carrieetter.blogspot.com.
  • Peter McDonald is the Christopher Tower Student and Tutor in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford. His publications include Louis MacNeice: The Poet in his Contexts (1991), Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (1997), Pastorals (2004) and The House of Clay (2007). His latest volume of poetry Torchlight was published by Carcanet in February 2011.
  • The Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes were launched following a bequest to Christ Church which provides for the promotion of the art of writing poetry in English. The prizes aim to encourage the writing of poetry amongst young people in the 16-18 age group by establishing an annual set of prizes for the best poems on a set theme.
  • The Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes 2012, on the theme of ‘Voyages’ attracted hundreds of entries from young poets across the country. There were six shortlisted poets who attended a prize-giving ceremony at Christ Church in April 2012, where 17 year-old Sarah Fletcher of The American School in London was named as the overall winner with her poem Papa’s Epilogue. The winner of the second prize was Bethan Smith (South Essex College, Southend-on-Sea) with Balloon-song and the third prizewinner was Millie Guille from St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, Berkshire with her poem Maiden Voyage. 
  • The other short-listed winners were: Hannah Tran (Dalriada Gramar School, Ballymoney, Co.Antrim) with The Sirens Tell their Tale, Lucy Hely-Hutchinson (Benenden School, Cranbrook, Kent) with Postcards, and Jack Whitehead (Wells Cathedral School, Somerset) with The Water Boatman from Veules-Les-Roses. 
  • 31 Longlisted poets from 2012 have agreed to have their poems published on the Tower Poetry website at http://www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize/longlisted-poems-2012


Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra: Featured Poet

The Constant Art

It’s true my love’s a paid up fashion victim.
Her hair, for a start, each morn is blandly ironed
glossy down her back; her nails are on nails
(embedded with gems) though when in heated kiss
they’ll sometimes stay there hanging in my neck.

Yet she’s no bendu dumbo reared on farms
to wrestle bulls, her battle’s with tash and arms
she’ll wax; but when I see her cut by friends
for wearing last year’s cut, I think of times
I’ve worn my heart at sleeve and that’s not cool.

O love, these things are forging fickle youth!
Let’s drop our guard for goods that rarely lie,
monuments like sonnets that will age
their solid lines in us to save our face.


Daljit Nagra comes from a Punjabi background. He was born and raised in London then Sheffield. He has won several prestigious prizes for his poetry. In 2004, he won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem with Look We Have Coming to Dover! This was also the title of his first collection which was published by Faber & Faber in 2007. This won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and The South Bank Show Decibel Award, and was nominated for The Costa Prize, The Guardian First Book Prize, the Aldeburgh Prize and the Glen Dimplex Award.

Daljit’s poems have been published in New Yorker, Atlantic Review, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Poetry International, Rialto and The North.

He has performed at venues such as Banff, Calgary, Toronto, Bratislava, Galle, Mumbai, Delhi, Orkney, Belfast, Dublin, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Ty Newydd and many places in England.

Daljit is on the Board of the Poetry Book Society. He has judged the Samuel Johnson Award 2008, The Guardian First Book Prize 2008, The Foyles Young Poets Competition 2008, The National Poetry Competition 2009. He has also hosted the TS Eliot Poetry Readings 2009.

He is the Lead Poetry Tutor at The Faber Academy and has run workshops all over the world.

He is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has written articles for The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times of India. Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! is his most current collection.