Please read the full eligibility rules below. The deadline for the 2019 competition is midnight, September 15th, 2019. Enter here.

General Rules

These awards are for original and previously unpublished poems in English or any dialect of English.

Poems do not need to address a specific theme, but should in some way – thematically, structurally, linguistically or formally – investigate ecology, the environment, or the relationship between human culture and the natural world.

Translations are not eligible.

Applicants must be aged 18 or above.

Poems that have won competitions, or that are under consideration in other competitions, are not eligible.

Poems that have been published previously (including on personal blogs or social media), or which are under consideration for publication elsewhere, are not eligible.

Entry is open to poets anywhere in the world.

Poetry School staff and Ginkgo sifters are ineligible to enter. Tutors of Ginkgo workshops and authors of Ginkgo essays are eligible.

If in the unlikely event that in the Judges’ opinion no submissions merit selection, then the organisers reserve the right not to select.

The organisers reserve the right to alter these rules at any time.

Entry indicates an acceptance of these rules. Submissions failing to meet all of these rules will be disqualified.


Postal entries will not be accepted. This is to minimise the amount of paper used in the prize.

You may submit any number of poems. The form will allow you to enter up to 10 poems. If you would like to submit more than 10 poems, please fill in the form multiple times.

All the poems you enter should be included in a single document, with each poem starting on a new page (e.g. if you enter 5 poems, these should be presented on 5 separate pages within the same document).

All poems must by typed A4 pages, formatted as PDFs or .doc or .docx Word documents.

Poems should not exceed 54 lines in length (titles, epigraphs and blank lines do not count).

Submissions are read anonymously. You will be asked to submit your name and details on the submission form, but this information will not be visible to the Judges. You should NOT include your name or any other identifying details in your poem document.

No alterations can be made to poems after submission.

The cost of submission is £7 for the first poem, then £4 for every subsequent poem.

The submission fee is non-refundable.

Submissions without the required payment in full will be disqualified.

At their absolute discretion, the Ginkgo Prize organisers reserve the right to return poems and their corresponding entry fees without the poems being considered.

The closing date is midnight on September 15th 2019. Please ensure you leave plenty of time to submit; if you experience technical or other difficulties submitting on the day of the deadline, there may not be time to resolve these, and your entry may not be included. Office assistance will not be available after 17:00.

If you have any questions about these rules, please contact with at least 10 days’ notice before the deadline.


All submissions will be read by Poetry School selectors who will pick finalist submissions to pass on to the judges, Homero Aridjis and Jen Hadfield.

The Judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


Three main awards (first, second and third place) will be made.

The first prize winner will receive £5,000, the second prize winner £2000 and the third prize winner £1,000.

Special commendations will also be awarded.

Prize-winning poets will be notified by the end of October 2019.

The Environmental Defenders Prize

The £500 Environmental Defenders Prize will be awarded to the best poem not selected for the main prize, which addresses the theme of environmental activism and environmental activists.

The Prize aims to draw attention to Global Witness’s Environmental Activists campaign:

Global Witness has been tracking and exposing the killing of land and environmental defenders around the world since 2012. These brave men and women take on powerful corporate and government opponents to protect their land and community, often facing years of brutal violence, abuse and harassment. We are part of a globalmovement, adding our voices to their battle and putting pressure on business leaders, governments and the international community to act to protect those on the frontline of defending our planet. In our last annual report, we revealed that it was the deadliest year on record to defend your community, way of life, or environment, with 201 men and women losing their lives. Now more than ever we need voices standing up to show we will not tolerate this.

Poets wishing for their poem to be considered for the Environmental Defenders Prize as well as the main awards should write ‘ED Prize’ above the title of their poem(s).

All of the other rules are the same as for the main competition.


The first, second and third prize winners, and the winner of the Environmental Defenders prize, will be invited to read at the winners’ ceremony at Swedenborg House, London, UK, on 22 November, 2019. To reduce carbon footprint, international winners may be asked to appear via videolink or to record a message in advance. Reasonable travel costs will be paid for UK winners.


The first prize winner and the winner of the Environmental Defenders Prize will be invited to a week-long residency at the Cambridge Writing Retreat, UK.

Residency dates will be by mutual convenience. The Ginkgo Prize cannot guarantee that certain dates will be available.

Reasonable travel costs of up to £500 will be covered by the Poetry School. (All travel will be carbon offset through a recognised scheme).


Copyright of individual poems remains with their authors, but the Ginkgo Prize reserves the right to publish free of charge the winning and commended poems in any format whatsoever.

The winning and highly commended poems will be published online, in the Ginkgo Prize 2019 Ecopoetry Anthology (in digital and paper form), and may be published with newspaper or magazine partners.

Poems should not be published in any other magazines, anthologies or competitions for one year after the prize is awarded without permission in writing from the Poetry School, though they may appear in pamphlets or collections published by the winners.