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Beyond The Storm Poetry Competition in support of NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal

Opened for submissions: 07/05/2020 00:00 BST
Closed for submissions: 19/06/2020 23:59 BST

This competition has ended. View Competition Winners.

Write Out Loud, together with Andrew McMillan and the BBC Casualty team, announce the most ambitious poetry competition yet - with a difference.

embedded image from entry 102109 The competition theme is ‘Beyond The Storm’, and is supported by BBC Casualty actors and the award-winning poet Andrew McMillan who will judge the competition winners. There will also be a public vote for a special ‘People’s Choice’ award, all donations will help fund the NHS Charities’ Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Entries for the competition open May 7th and close on June 19th, with the winners being announced on August 8th.

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Encourage a poetic response to life under lockdown

The Beyond the Storm Poetry Competition is looking for poems about the lockdown and beyond, to be judged by award-winning poet Andrew McMillan, supported by BBC Casualty actors Gabriella Leon, Kirsty Mitchell and Olivia D’Lima who will recite shortlisted entries online for a special ‘People’s Vote.

Create a poetic record of the pandemic era

Unlike most competitions, there are no cash prizes, as we aim to raise maximum funds for the appeal. The prize is to be chosen as a winner or highly commended, alongside a special 'People's Choice' award – with inclusion in what we hope will be a big-selling anthology that creates a poetic record of the pandemic era.

Raise money and awareness for the frontline NHS

The NHS Charities National Covid-19 Urgent Appeal was launched to acknowledge and support NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by Covid-19 across the country.

The money raised is funding grants to help NHS charities support NHS staff, volunteers and patients in ways above and beyond what NHS funding can ordinarily provide, including wellbeing packs, rest and recuperation rooms, electronic tablets for isolated patients to communicate to loved ones. The funds will also resource vital care partnerships and longer term mental health recovery of staff and families.

"We need you to make a donation. The NHS is going through the toughest time it has ever seen.” Kirsty Mitchell, Faith in BBC Casualty


In this competition, there are no cash prizes, as we aim to raise maximum funds for the appeal. Winners and highly commended poems will be chosen by prestigious literary judge Andrew McMillan; there will be a winner of the People’s Vote; and/or inclusion in a significant, and what we hope will be, best-selling anthology.

We intend the competition anthology to act as a valuable poetic record of what must be the strangest period in all of our lives to this point, and record our hopes for a better future, beyond the storm.


We ask for donations via:

  • competition entries;

  • the People’s Vote;

  • online video views;

  • or just giving a donation to support this appeal.


Andrew McMillan, Head Judge for 'Beyond The Storm'

embedded image from entry 101965 Andrew McMillan - Head Judge
Head Judge Andrew McMillan's debut collection 'physical' was the first poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. It also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award (2016), an Eric Gregory Award (2016) and a Northern Writers’ award (2014). It was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2016, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Polari First Book Prize. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2015. In 2019 it was voted as one of the top 25 poetry books of the past 25 years by the Booksellers Association. Most recently it has been translated into Norwegian (Aschehoug, 2017), a bi-lingual French edition, Le Corps Des Hommes (Grasset, 2018) and Galician (A Chan da Polvora, 2019).

“I want this to bring in serious, considered poetry, but also to have a broader, public appeal, to boost donations at this most critical time in NHS history"

As we are expecting large numbers of entries, Andrew will be supported by a panel of filter judges, experienced poets, reviewers and poetry lovers from Write Out Loud’s extensive network.

Competition Terms and Conditions

In the following, the terms ‘we’ and ‘our’ refer to Write Out Loud (2015) CIC.
By submitting your work, you are deemed to have read and agreed to abide by these terms and conditions.


All poems submitted must:

  • have a title;

  • be no longer than 40 standard lines;

  • be submitted on;

  • be entirely your own work;

  • be in English (non-English words within and relevant to the text are acceptable);

  • have lines left-justified only – we cannot accept poems needing special layout;

  • contain no material that in our judgement might cause offence;

  • not contain your name or any other means of your being recognised – judging is done anonymously.

Each poet may enter a maximum of five poems.

Once submitted, poems cannot be amended.

Previously published poems (including online) are eligible;

Submission of poems is free, but we ask for donations to NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal via our donate button. All monies go directly to the charity.

By submitting, you are deemed to warrant that all work submitted is your own work and contains nothing that breaches copyright, plagiarises others’ work or infringes any intellectual property rights whatsoever.

Others’ work can be included or referenced within your poem, with appropriate permissions. Responsibility for securing written permission rests with the individual submitting the work. We accept no responsibility or liability whatsoever in the event of any failure to secure such agreement.

We accept no responsibility for loss of poems, so do keep a copy.

Correspondence on individual work cannot be entered into except for technical matters to do with uploading.

We will not enter into any correspondence or discussion connected with the judging of this competition.

In any dispute judges’ and curators’ decisions will be binding and final and no correspondence can be entered into regarding such decisions.

We accept no responsibility to any party for any technical failure whatsoever.

We accept no responsibility for any damage, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by any entrant submitting poems to this event, howsoever caused.

Use of submitted work

By submitting work for this competition you grant to Write Out Loud (2015) CIC limited rights to use the work as follows:

  • on for the purposes of:

    • informing the public of your success;

    • publicising our work; 

  • inclusion in any online or print anthology connected to this competition;

  • inclusion on a video for the purposes of public voting and/or publicity purposes.

No other use will be made of your work without your permission being sought.

All poems remain the copyright of the originating author.

Those whose work is selected will be contacted by email and results announced on, on social and related media, and in the press where appropriate.

This competition is assocated with the Write Out Loud profile Beyond the Storm Poetry Competition

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