2023 Sussex Poetry Competition & Poetry Festival

The 2023 BHAC Sussex Poetry Competition is open for entries!

Entries are welcomed from all those aged over 16, who have a connection with Sussex. Entry fees are £6 for the first poem, and £5 for each extra poem – you may enter as many poems as you wish! Additionally we have a Student Competition for which all entries are free.  Please see our Terms and Conditions for more details.


If you prefer to enter by post please download and print our postal entry form.

Entries will close Sunday, October 15th at midnight.

The winners of the Poetry Competition will be announced at the BHAC Poetry Festival Sunday, November 26th.

You may PURCHASE YOUR POETRY FESTIVAL TICKETS ONLINE. Tickets are £13 full price, or £10 concession to all competition entrants, BHAC members, NHS and council employees, benefits recipients, and students. Full price tickets are available to buy in person from Kemptown Bookshop.

The Sussex Poetry Competition is in partnership with The University of Brighton.

Competition winners at the 2021 Poetry Festival
Competition winners at the 2021 Poetry Festival. L-R Peter Wellby (runner-up), Jenny Abura (runner-up), Jenny Mitchell (2nd place), James Carson Lee (3rd place). The image at the top of this page features runner-up Hazel Rogers reading her poem ‘The Calm Sea’.

Poetry Competition prize details



THIRD PRIZE Work, Write, Live creative writing tutorial




Poems on the Buses

Brighton & Hove Buses will be celebrating Sussex creativity by displaying selected entries to the Sussex Poetry Competition on their bus fleet.

Look out for them on our social media, and of course out and about on the streets of Sussex!

Poetry Festival 2023

The 2023 BHAC Poetry Festival will take place from 4pm – 8pm on Sunday, November 26th at St. George’s Church, Brighton. Doors will open at 3.30pm.

Be sure to mark it in your diary!

The Festival will feature readings by poets Liz Berry and Competition judge John McCullough; plus the competition winners. We are also excited to host again the ever popular poetry slam with Hammer & Tongue.

Book your Poetry Festival tickets HERE.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry photographed by Thom Bartley

Liz was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her debut collection, Black Country, ‘a sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’ (Guardian), won a Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. Her latest work The Home Child, a novel in verse, was published in March 2023 (Chatto) and reimagines the story of her great-aunt Eliza Showell, one of the many children forcibly emigrated to Canada as part of the British Child Migrant schemes.

Find out more about Liz Berry on her website.


John McCullough

John McCullough photographed by Lucy Cage

John lives in Hove. His first collection, The Frost Fairs, won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012. Reckless Paper Birds, published by Penned in the Margins, was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2019 and focuses on vulnerability and the human body. It won John the coveted Hawthornden Prize in 2020. His most recent collection, Panic Response, is his darkest and most experimental book to date. Its long poem ‘Flower of Sulphur’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2021 and the collection itself was both a Book of the Year in The Telegraph and one of The Times’ Notable New Poetry Books of 2022.

Find out more about John McCullough on his website.