The Ruskin Prize for Poetry 2017

The Poetry Centre is delighted to announce the winners of the 2017 Ruskin Prize for Poetry, judged by poet-translator Dr Alipio de Franca and poet-critic Dr Patrick Davidson Roberts.

The overall winner was Margaret Wilmot, for her poem Hemlock. Revelation. The judges described it as a ‘masterful example of the narrative and lyrical combined…its sense of the out-of-sight coupled with a strong belief in the universal experience being depicted.'

Second place was awarded to Paul Munden for his poem Freckle. The judges appreciated the sensitive ‘development of an inner monologue’ and excellent ‘control of form’ revolving around strangely rhymed couplets.

Third place was awarded to William Corwin, for his poem Blue Patch with Lavinia. The judges applauded its ‘musical clashes, subtle chromatics and inescapable confidence.'

All three winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of POEM magazine.


The Ruskin Prize for Poetry 2016

The Poetry Centre is delighted to announce the winners of the 2016 Ruskin Prize for Poetry, judged by Professor Fiona Sampson. The overall winner was Mark Fiddes, for his poem To Maria Cayetana. Professor Sampson was greatly impressed by “its stately movement, its resolution of all the technical problems of a period and a persona piece, and the lovely lift into something transcendent with which it ends."

Second place was awarded to Ella Frears for her poem The (Little) Death of the Author. Professor Sampson “loved the unashamed braininess alongside its wit, and how the poet manages to sustain the whole sophisticated intellectual conceit.”

Third place was awarded to Wendy Orr, for her poem Jenga. Professor Sampson remarked that it impressed her "hugely through its playful energy, its rhythmic spring and bounce – revealing a marvellous ear.”

All three winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of POEM magazine.

The submission period for the 2017 Ruskin Prize for Poetry has now closed. Further details will be announced soon.


The Ruskin Prize for Poetry 2015

Call for entries - NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE

Submissions are welcome from first time writers, students and established authors, but must be received by the University before 17 April 2016.

The prize will be judged this year by Professor Fiona Sampson, Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre.

Professor Sampson said: "We want to discover three outstanding works and celebrate them by sharing them with POEM magazine's international readership. We have not chosen a topic for the competition: instead, we welcome writing in every style and on any topic. We look forward to receiving some wonderful submissions and finding exciting new work, whether by new or established writers."

The prize has been named after John Ruskin, a Victorian philanthropist, political economist and great supporter of the University's Whitelands College, who was an early proponent of education for young women.

Submission deadline: 17 April 2016

Prizes: Three prizes worth a total of £600 are on offer, and the first, second, and third best works will appear in POEM magazine.

Entry details: All entries will be anonymised and every entry will be read by judge, Professor Fiona Sampson.

Terms and Conditions

Each poem:

Must be an entrants own work;

Can be on any subject, but must be no longer than 40 lines;

Must be unpublished and not submitted elsewhere to another competition or for publication.

The University reserves the right to publish and seek publication for the winning poems in connection with the Ruskin Prize.

The competition is open to all and there is no restrictions on the number of entries per person, provided that each entry is paid for.

£5 per poem and £3 for subsequent entries.

Entries and payments can be submitted by clicking here

You will be sent details on how to submit your poem once payment is complete.



The 2014 Ruskin Prize for Poetry was judged by TS Eliot prize winning poet David Harsent. The winner was Claudia Daventry for her poem, The Oligarch Loses His Patience.

The Oligarch Loses His Patience

This is for the time she put sugared lime peels
in the bonbonnière. Then served sherbert
in the spindled glasses with the silver filigree
handles and sprinkled over crystal violets
with hammered tongs twisted from sheets
of tin stolen from his mines. The time she pinched
a fingerful of coca from his snuffbox, sniffed
it through a rolled billet-doux slipped
from her garter; the times she used this petite
cuillière (warmed round an artisan's thumb)
that dangled on the velvet ribbon tied around
her pale throat - its scorched underside,
a few grains of powder clinging to gold
beaten so thin you could hear it scream.


Professor David Harsent said: "There is something compelling about the specificity of the items that chain-link this poem: artefacts that translate as tokens. The moments described lie in the past, but the upshot is very much in the here and now. Notice the depth of threat in that first half-line; even in the first word and what it leads to, what it promises, what we will, as we read on, eventually find.

The scene is quickly and effectively set by instancing the extravagance, the refinement, the power, the wealth, all present in the tense reciprocity between nouns and verbs. Clearly, the narrative landscape of this poem is rich and rare. Its power, however, lies not just in the bonbonniere, the spindled glasses, the crystal violets, the coca, not even in the previous location of the billet-doux - although these are crucial contributors to the atmospheric effect - so much as in the quotidian of a relationship which has gone as far as it can go without retribution. Risks have been taken and the self-destructive aspect of that is all too evident. All the refinement, the exotica, of the poem renders down to that emotional intensity, and makes a brutal metaphor of the spoon, of thinness, of beating, and of that final scream."

Joint second prize was awarded to Chloe Stopa-Hunt for White Hills and Nicholas Murray for Annotations of Byzantium. Third prize was awarded to Tania Hershman for Lessons in Flanders Agriculture.