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Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is a charity, registered in Scotland, and a company limited by guarantee.
Company number: SC119255
Charity number: SC006027
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McLellan Poetry Prize

Part of the McLellan Festival 30th August - 8th September 2019

This year's judge is Sean O'Brien

 1st prize £1500     2nd prize £300     3rd prize £150


6 commendations of £25


The competition closing date is 21st June 2019

Sean O’Brien’s ninth poetry collection Europa (2018) was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2012. His poetry has received various awards including the T.S. Eliot, Forward and Roehampton poetry prizes. Other recent publications include his second novel Once Again Assembled Here, a chapbook of poetry and photographs Hammersmith, both in 2016, and his second collection of short stories Quartier Perdu in 2018.


He is a critic, translator, editor, playwright, novelist, broadcaster, experienced writing tutor and mentor. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 

Entries may be made online or by post.


To enter the competition electronically, simply complete the online form below, attach your poem(s) and pay your entry fee by Credit/Debit card, or direct from your Paypal account if you have one. Please review the Competition Rules at the foot of this page before making your submission.

If you prefer to enter by post, please download and print the application form using the button and return it with your submission and entry fee.

Sean O'Brien

(Photo: Gerry Wardle)

Competition Rules

  • The competition is open to anyone except members of the McLellan Festival team. You may enter any number of poems and on any subject.

  • Poems should be of no more than 80 lines (excluding title), in English and your own original work (no translations).

  • Poems must not have won a prize in any other competition or have been published, self-published (including on social media) or accepted for publication in print or online at the time of the closing date. Entrants must notify the organisers promptly of any change in circumstances that occurs after the date of entry.

  • Each poem should be on a separate page, in black Times New Roman size 12 font and in A4 format (one side only). Poems will be judged anonymously and must NOT include the poet’s name or any other distinguishing mark.

  • No alterations may be made once an entry has been received, nor fees refunded.

  • The entry fee is £6 for the first poem and £5 for each subsequent poem submitted on the same form. You can use your Paypal account if you have one or any UK-issued bank card. Your transaction will be securely processed by Paypal.

  • Closing date for uploading entries is midnight, 21st June 2019.

  • Copyright remains with the author but Arran Theatre and Arts Trust reserves the right to publish winning and shortlisted poems for two years from the date the results are announced.

  • The judge’s decision is final. Neither he nor the organisers will enter into any correspondence. Entry implies acceptance of all the rules and failure to comply will result in disqualification.

  • Prize-winners will be notified individually before the end of July and invited to read at the award ceremony with Sean O'Brien on the Isle of Arran on Friday, 30th August 2019. Electronic copies of the winning poems with biographies and photos will be required from the winners. The results of the competition with copies of the poems will be published on the festival website within one week of the award ceremony.

  • The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judge if necessary and not to award prizes if, in the judge’s opinion, such action is justified.