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The National Poetry Prize 2020 is now open for entries!

The National Poetry Prize is a new poetry competition for an unpublished poem of up to 60 lines. The competition is open to South African citizen and residents over the age of 18.

R10 000 first prize for a single poem!


First Prize: R10 000 

Second Prize: R3 000 

Third Prize: R1 000

Shortlist: A complimentary one-year electronic subscription to New Contrast


31 December 2020


Saaleha Idrees Bamjee  •  Uhuru Portia Phalafala  • Meg Vandermerwe • Bruce Jack

Please read the rules carefully before entering. 


1. The competition is open to anyone who is a South African citizen or resident. 

2. The deadline for entries is midnight on 31 December 2020. 

3. Entrants may submit up to 6 poems each. All entries will be considered anonymously. 

4. Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy. 

5. Under no circumstances can alterations be made to poems once entered. 

6. Online entries must be made via Submittable (accessed on our website at www.newcontrast.net) and will receive automatic confirmation at the time of submission. 

7. Telephone or email confirmation of receipt is not available. New Contrast staff are unable to confirm the content of documents submitted online. Ensure you send the correct version. 

8. The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel. 

9. The judges will compile a shortlist of 10 poems that will be announced on 1 February 2021. The judges’ decision is final and neither the judges nor New Contrast or Bruce Jack Wines will enter into any correspondence. 

10. The winners will be announced by 26 February 2021. 

11. The judges will make their decisions independently without any external influence. Entries will be judged anonymously without the poets’ names. No relatives of the judges may enter the competition. 


1. As all entries are judged anonymously, the poet’s name must not appear on the poem.

2. All poems must have a title and must not exceed 60 lines in length (excluding title). The line limit applies only to the written lines of the poem, not the lines between the stanzas. Titles, epigraphs and dedications are not counted as lines either.

3. Entrants may submit up to 6 poems (see entry fees).

4. We have no preference as to subject or style. Simply submit your best work.

5. Poems must be the entrant’s original works.

6. Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media (including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), or broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before 26 February 2021.

7. If your poem is accepted for publication elsewhere or wins another competition, you will need to inform us by email at business@newcontrast.net to let us know it has found another home. Refunds cannot be made for poems that are duly withdrawn.

8. The competition is only open for poems in English. Poems can, however, be submitted in any of the official languages of South Africa, provided they are accompanied by an English translation. Judging will take place based on the English translation. Any prize money awarded for a poem in translation with be shared equally between the poet and the translator.


1. Each entrant can submit up to a maximum of six poems at the following entry fee options:

Up to 2 submitted poems: $ 3

Up to 4 submitted poems: $ 5

Up to 6 submitted poems: $ 7

2. The poems must be contained in one document. The fees are to cover administration and other costs relating to the competition and a donation to the Bruce Jack charity, the Headstart Trust.

3. Prize winners will be notified by 26 February 2021. All winners will be expected to provide a biographical note and photograph.

4. Shortlisted entrants will be notified by 1 February 2021.

5. The copyright of each poem remains with the author. However, authors of the winning poems, by entering the competition, grant New Contrast and Bruce Jack the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast their poem. Use of the poems elsewhere for one year from February 2021 is subject to permission from New Contrast.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.