Sep 15, 2023

Paul Muldoon to judge International Poetry Competition

Award-winning poet and teacher Paul Muldoon is to be the judge of the 2024 Guernsey International Poetry Competition (Poems on the Move), organised in conjunction with next spring’s Guernsey Literary Festival.

Irish born Paul Muldoon has an impressive list of poetry publications and awards to his name, including the Eric Gregory Award, the T S Eliot Prize and the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He now lives in New York.

The annual Guernsey International Poetry Competition, which was launched on 15 September, is open to poets worldwide and last year attracted more than 1600 poems. The 2024 closing date is 15 January next year. The competition is sponsored by Specsavers and supported by Guernsey Arts.

The competition is divided into three classes, Open (which carries a first prize of £1000), Channel Islands (£250) and Young Poet (£250). There will be prizes for first, second and third in each class and these poems and another 12 will be part of the Poems on the Move display, at Guernsey Airport and other island sites as well as on Guernsey buses.

Past judges of the competition have included Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Kate Clanchy, Ian MacMillan, Maura Dooley, Daljit Nagra and Gwyneth Lewis.

The 2023 competition judge Jackie Kay wrote in her judge’s report, ‘The standard for this year was incredibly high.’

 ‘Often, when judging a competition, you’re left frantically looking for something good. Guernsey seems to do things the opposite way around; you’re left frantically trying to find something not so good so you can eliminate. That was a stubborn process, and many of the poems that didn’t make it into the final shortlist still hovered around my kitchen for days.’

The top prize in the Open Category 2023 went to Owen Lewis, a published poet who is also Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University in the United States.


Second went to Irish poet Nina Quigley, who lives in Donegal, and third place went to talented young poet from New Zealand, Sarah-Kate Simons, who also won the Young People’s Category.

Jackie Kay was especially complimentary about the entries from young poets and the organisers are keen for poets from local secondary schools to enter the competition. Copies of the entry form will be delivered to all secondary schools over the coming week.

The Channel Island Category was won by Guernsey poet Kevin Bales, for his poem Between the Sun and the Snail Slime. Second was Sally Pond from Alderney with All Aboard the 92, and third Hayley North from Guernsey with Diversion.

2024 judge Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for thirty-five years. He is the author of fifteen collections of poetry including Joy in Service on Rue Tagore, published by FSG and Faber and Faber in 2024.

 Among his awards are the 1972 Eric Gregory Award, the 1980 Sir Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, the 1994 T.S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2006 European Prize for Poetry, the 2015 Pigott Poetry Prize, the 2017 Queens Gold Medal for Poetry, and the 2020 Michael Marks Award.

 He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Co-founder of competition sponsors Specsavers, Mary Perkins, said, ‘This is a fantastic event which Specsavers is proud to sponsor. It has been brilliant seeing the Literary Festival go from strength to strength and I hope everyone enjoys next year's edition.’

Competition filter judge is Candy Neubert, who was born and brought up in Guernsey. Her last two poetry collections, Channel and Island, were partly inspired by the island.

The 12th Guernsey Literary Festival takes place from 23 April to 5 May 2024 and aims to offer a varied and energetic celebration of literature with something for everyone – from aspiring writers to families looking for a fun day out. For more information on events in 2024 visit

During the 2024 Festival, there will be an International Poetry Competition Winners’ Reading at which Paul Muldoon will present the awards.

Entries must be no longer than 14 lines and must fit on a single A4 page.

Full details and entry forms are available on the website or on leaflets which can be found at a number of sites in the Channel Islands. Details will also be in the UK magazine Poetry Review and a number of other national and international poetry and literary magazines and websites.