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Fenland Poet Laureate Award

The Fenland Poet Laureate Award is an annual poetry competition to find the next Poet Laureate for the district.

It has often been described as the most prestigious award of its kind in Cambridgeshire.

The winning poet is awarded the honourary title of Fenland Poet Laureate and gets the opportunity to represent and promote Fenland poetry during their year in the role.

A young people's poetry competition, for ages 17 and under, runs alongside the main competition, the winner of whom is crowned Young Fenland Poet Laureate.

Winning the competition is a recognition of creative writing talent as well as being a great way to be involved with the local community.

Entries for 2024 now open!

The Fenland Poet Laureate Award 2024 and the Young Fenland Poet Laureate Award 2024 are open for entries!

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 31st January 2024.

The competition is open to anyone who lives, works or attends school in the administrative district of Fenland, and is completely free to enter.

Applicants must be aged 18 and over for the Fenland Poet Laureate Award, and aged 17 and under for the Young Fenland Poet Laureate Award.

Competition entries will be shortlisted by members of Fenland District Council's Culture, Arts and Heritage (CAH) Committee.

Shortlisted submissions will then be judged by award-winning poet and CAH committee Chair, Cllr Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, and the current Fenland Poet Laureate, Qu Gao.

How to enter

  • Poetry submissions must be 40 lines or less and previously unpublished.
  • Poems may be in free verse or stricter form.
  • There is no set theme, although entries should reference Fenland in some way, either subtly through imagery or more directly about life in Fenland, for example.
  • Only one entry per poet.

Please send your entry:

  • Via email to: poetaward@fenland.gov.uk or;
  • Via post to: Fenland Poet Laureate Award, Fenland District Council, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, Cambridgeshire, PE15 8NQ (please send one hard copy only) 

Please also include a brief statement explaining what you feel you have to gain from the role of Fenland Poet Laureate/Young Fenland Poet Laureate and what community-based work you would like to develop throughout your year in the honourary role.

For further information, please contact: poetaward@fenland.gov.uk


Cllr Elisabeth Sennitt Clough Biography

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Ph.D, MA, BA, is the author of Glass (Saboteur Best Pamphlet Award), Sightings (Michael Schmidt Award), At or Below Sea Level (PBS Recommendation), The Cold Store and My Name is Abilene (Forward Prize Best Collection shortlist). Elisabeth is an alumna of the Arvon/Jerwood Mentorship scheme 2016, mentored by Mona Arshi; Toast Poets 2017; and Uni Slam 2019. She was also a Ledbury Emerging Poet, 2017. Elisabeth has been long-listed for the National Poetry Competition and read with the former Poet Laureate of England, Carol Ann Duffy. Elisabeth is Editor of the Fenland Poetry Journal. Her own poems have appeared in the Forward Prize anthology in 2018, 2022 and 2023. Other work has appeared in Poem, The Rialto, Mslexia, Wasafiri, Magma, The Cannon's Mouth, Ambit, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Stand among others. Elisabeth was also part of the Faber Poetry Academy, under mentors Daljit Nagra and Rachael Allen in 2020/21.

Qu Gao Biography

Qu Gao

Qu Gao is the current Fenland Poet Laureate and a third-year undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Aged two, she moved with her parents from China to the UK, and has been living in the Fens of North Cambridgeshire ever since. Qu Gao divides her time between studying Physical Natural Sciences, going on long walks and swims, and brewing very strong cups of tea.

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