Annual £1500 Wigtown Poetry Prize invites entries

The annual £1500 international Wigtown Poetry Prize – which celebrates Scotland’s three indigenous languages – is now open for entries.

As Scotland’s international poetry prize it promotes and nurtures work in English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic, attracting entries from as far afield as the USA, Canada, Australia, Ecuador and China.

Founded in 2005, Wigtown Poetry Prize is one of the UK’s best-established writing competitions and a launchpad for many writers’ careers.

The Wigtown Prize was originally for work in English but last year it was opened up to entries in all three languages and went to Mhairi Owens, from Fife, for her Scots poem Shiftin.

There are also dedicated categories, with top prizes of £500, for the best Scots and Scottish Gaelic poems.

A 2020 launch event is due to be held at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh on 9 March, but entries are welcome from now until the closing date of 29 May.

Last year’s winners will be reading their poems during a Wigtown Poetry Prize Showcase at StAnza , Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, at St Andrews on 6 March at 1pm.

A StAnza event is also planned at the 2020 Wigtown Book Festival, which takes place in Scotland’s National Book Town from 25 September to 4 October.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill, who chairs the Wigtown Festival Company, said: ‘Wigtown Poetry Prize is going from strength to strength, attracting a high standard of entries, submitted by poets in every part of the world.

‘And this year we are lucky to have a superb group of judges including Roseanne Watt, Anna Frater and George Watt to help select the winners.

‘Last year’s decision to open up the Wigtown Prize to work in all three of Scotland’s indigenous languages was widely welcomed and we look forward to receiving entries for the 2020 award in Scots and Scottish Gaelic as well as English.

‘We also have special categories that recognise collections of poetry and encourage emerging talent from Dumfries and Galloway.

‘On top of all this we are working more closely than ever with partners across Scotland to support and promote a love of poetry.’

Poetry prize categories include the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize, which recognises a pamphlet of work rather than individual poems and the Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award, for poets living in, or from, the region who have never professionally published a full length collection.

The Wigtown Poetry Prize is organised by the Wigtown Festival Company, and the awards ceremony takes place as a part of Wigtown Book Festival.

A series of partners are involved in the poetry prize including the Gaelic Books Council, Moniack Mhor, Saltire Society, Scottish Poetry Library and StAnza.

Sarah Mason, director of the Saltire Society said: ‘Poetry and its language plays an important role in expressing and understanding life. The Saltire Society is pleased to be continuing our partnership with Wigtown Book Festival, encouraging and celebrating poetry in the Scots language. We look forward to seeing this year’s works.’

Alison Lang, the Gaelic Books Council, said: ‘Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council, said: “The Gaelic Books Council is proud to be supporting the Gaelic poetry competition again this year.

‘It is encouraging to see how enthusiastically Gaelic writers, new and established, embrace the opportunity to become involved in this important competition, and it is always a pleasure to read the new poems that are written for the Wigtown competition. We hope to hear new voices again this year, in Gaelic and in Scotland’s other languages.’

The judges for 2020 will include: Wigtown Prize and Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize – Roseanne Watt; Wigtown Scots Prize – George Watt; Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize – Anna Frater.

Rules and entry details are available at