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Poetry Competition

“Standing Her Ground” The Trócaire and Poetry Ireland poetry competition 2020

In the face of rampant logging, Angela (39), and three of her children, Nicole (14), Jocsan (5) and baby Helen (6 months) have all been threatened. Photo: Simon Burch/Trócaire.

Trócaire and Poetry Ireland launched their annual poetry competition in Poetry Ireland’s headquarters on Parnell Square on Monday 20 January 2020. The closing date has been extended to Friday 12th of June 2020, and winners will be notified during the summer.

Our competition is FREE to enter and is open to young people, children and adults alike, at all stages in their writing careers, and there are some great prizes

Entries can be made online or by post. Full details are also available on Poetry Ireland’s website.

Standing Her Ground

This year’s theme is ‘Standing Her Ground’, using the extraordinary stories of Angela and Madris, two brave mothers in Honduras and Kenya featured in Trócaire’s 2020 Lenten Campaign, who are supporting their families by standing up for their right to earn a living on their land. These hardworking women are holding their families together, battling enormous odds, including threats like violence, intimidation and drought, to provide food for their children and to keep them in school.

Angela knows she is risking her life for the ones she loves: “Everyone in my house has been threatened. We watch the logging ravage the land,” she says. “They just come with their trucks. They leave poison water and lifeless earth behind.”

We are asking poets of all ages to consider how mothers like Angela and Madris are protecting and caring for their families, battling to keep their children, and the earth, safe from harm.

Categories for Entries

Poems in English or Irish, written or spoken word, are welcome in all six categories: 

Published poets
Unpublished poets

Junior: 1st-3rd year
Senior: Transition Year-Leaving Certificate

Junior: 3rd/4th Class
Senior: 5th/6th Class

Competition Calendar

Entries open: Monday 20 January 2020
Deadline for applications: Extended to Friday 12th of June 2020
Winners notified: Summer 2020
Awards Ceremony: To be announced. 

How to Enter

Entries of up to three poems per person can be made online or by post. Full details are available on Poetry Ireland’s website or you can submit your entry here.

You can download the Competition Rules here.


The 2020 judging panel comprises Poetry Ireland’s Poet In Residence, Catherine Ann Cullen, Aidan Clifford, retired former director of the Curriculum Development Unit, and Joanne McGarry, Trócaire’s Campaigns Manager.

More about the theme of ‘Standing Her Ground’

Exploring the Theme with Primary and Post-Primary Students

Younger poets in primary school can explore our fun educational materials with their teachers, and make the connection between their own experiences and those of children thousands of miles away.

Post primary students can learn how defending rights also protects families and the planet, and can try out our exciting new Exploitation Game to really get a feel for what it is like to battle an oil company for control of their land.

Further Reading for Adult Poets

Older students (18+) and adults may prefer to use Angela and Madris’s stories as a springboard to a wider analysis of the broader issue of the globalisation of trade and explore how multinational companies are exploiting land and resources that they do not own, sometimes even with the knowledge of government officials.

How do you feel about the condition of our planet? What keeps you awake at night when you hear about stories like these? What do YOU think we, humanity, need to do? How can we stand our ground, if we don’t have any? For further inspiration, keep an eye out for our Lenten Campaign, which launches on Ash Wednesday.

If you prefer a deeper analysis of the issue before putting pen to paper, then our policy paper Making A Killing is the perfect place to start. 


Each year, the winning poems are published in booklet form and presented to the winners at the awards ceremony. Winners and runners up are invited to read at our lunchtime awards ceremony at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, and many past winners have gone on to read at events and festivals around Ireland.

Winning poems will be considered for publication by the editor of Poetry Ireland Review. An anthology of some of the best poems from the competition, Future Perfect was published in 2019.

Adult Categories

Winners: Two-week stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig OR a Tablet OR time in a recording studio to the value of €300 (for spoken word poets), plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. 

Runners-up: Tickets to a literary festival to the value of €250, plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. 

Highly commended: Book Token, plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service.

Post Primary and Primary Categories

  • Winners: Kindle Fire plus visit by an author to your school
  • Runners-up: Book token plus visit by an author to your school
  • Highly Commended: Book token

(Note: Prizes must be claimed by 31 December 2020)

How to Enter

Entries of up to three poems per person can be made online or by post. Full details are available on Poetry Ireland’s website or you can submit your entry here.

You can download the Competition Rules here.