The Young Romantics Writing Prize was inaugurated in 2015 to encourage poets and essayists aged 16-18 to respond to the work of the Romantics. The first Young Romantic Judge was the former Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, followed by Professor Richard Holmes, Liz Lochhead, and Simon Barnes. 2022’s Prize Judge is Fiona Sampson.

Young Romantics Prize 2022

Submissions - now closed

2022’s Young Romantics Poetry and Essay Prize is now closed for submissions. We are no longer able to accept any more entries.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard on their poems and essays, which are now being sent to our panel of judges.

We hope to announce Longlists in each category by mid-July and Shortlists in August. Please check here on our website, and on Twitter for updates.

The final decisions will be made by Fiona Sampson at our Awards Ceremony in September.

In the meantime, please visit our Google Earth Elegy World Map which we will continue to update and expand over the summer.

Email questions regarding the 2022 Prize to: prizes@keats-shelley.org

Poetry Prize (closed to submissions)

The theme of 2022’s Young Romantics Poetry Prize is ‘ELEGY’.

This commemorates two bicentenaries: the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley on 8th June 1822 and the composition of Adonais, Shelley’s elegy for John Keats, a year earlier in 1821.

Poets can interpret ‘Elegy’ freely. Poems can be serious or comic, avant garde or traditional, but the judges advise that works drifting too far from the theme will not be considered.

Poetry Judge Deryn Rees-Jones adds. ‘For me good poems adhere to no rules…except the one necessary to their own creation. Often a poem will stand out because of its precision and its ability to harness and also liberate a particular kind of energy. The poem will be able to say something that only it can say.’

RULES AND FORMATTING
Poems should be:
  • no more than 30 lines in length.
  • must fit onto a single A4 page.
  • Entries must be original. Plagiarism will not be accepted. The poem must not have been published previously, either in print or online or in any other media, nor previously submitted to us.

    Essay Prize (closed to submissions)

    2022’s Young Romantic Essayists can choose between two questions.

    1. ‘He lives, he wakes—‘tis Death is dead, not he; / Mourn not for Adonais’.
    PB Shelley, Adonais (1821)

    How does the poetry of Keats, Shelley and the Romantics live on in 2022?

    2. ‘The ideas of Shelley seem to me always to be ideas of adolescence — as there is every reason why they should be…’ TS Eliot, ‘Shelley and Keats’ (1933)

    ‘Write then, now that you are young, nonsense by the ream. Be silly, be sentimental, imitate Shelley[…]give the rein to every impulse’. Virginia Woolf, ‘A Letter to a Young Poet’ (1932)

    Is the poetry of Shelley, Keats and the Romantics best enjoyed by young readers?

    Essayists are free to write about Keats and/or Shelley and/or other Romantic authors.

    RULES

    Entries must be no shorter than 750 words and no longer than 1000, including quotations.

    Entries must be original works. Plagiarism will not be accepted. They must not have been published previously, either in print or online or in any other media, nor previously submitted to us. All sources must be acknowledged.

    Your response can take whatever form, mood or tone you choose: literary criticism, political commentary, personal essay, opinion piece, memoir, even the script for a podcast. You can agree or disagree, or even agree and disagree.

    Essay Judge Professor Sharon Ruston writes: ‘I want to read a well-organised, lively, and well-expressed essay. It should be arguing a point and offer persuasive evidence in its case. We are also looking for someone who has a creative interest in Keats, Shelley, and their circle.’

    Judges

    • Chair of Judges

      Fiona Sampson

      Fiona Sampson is a writer and poet. Published in thirty-eight languages, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Wordsworth Trust, has published twenty-nine books and has received an MBE for Services to Literature.

      She’s served on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature and is Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund; other honours include the Newdigate Prize, Cholmondeley Prize, and various awards from the Arts Councils of England and of Wales, Society of Authors, Poetry Book Society and AHRC, and Book of the Year selections. She recently received the 2019 Naim Frashëri Laureateship, the 2020 European Lyric Atlas Prize, and, for Come Down, Wales Poetry Book of the Year 2021.

      Sampson’s studies of writing process include Beyond the Lyric and Lyric Cousins: Poetry and Musical Form. She edited Percy Bysshe Shelley (Faber). A critic, librettist and literary translator, she was editor of Poetry Review 2005-12 and has served internationally on the boards of publishing houses and literary NGOs, and on literary juries.

      Sampson’s writing about place including Limestone Country, a Guardian Book of the Year 2017. Her internationally acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley (2018) was finalist for the Biographers’ Club first biography prize, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2021), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Washington Post and Prospect Book of the Year 2021, longlisted for the 2022 PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

    • Poetry Judges

      Professor Deryn Rees-Jones

      Professor Deryn Rees-Jones was born in Liverpool with family links to North Wales, where she later studied English at the University of Bangor, before completing a literature PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is Professor of Poetry at the University of Liverpool.

      She won an Eric Gregory award in 1993 and ‘The Memory Tray’ (Seren, 1995) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her other works are ‘Signs Round a Dead Body’ (Seren, 1998), ‘Quiver’ (Seren, 2004), and a groundbreaking critical study of twentieth-century women’s poetry, ‘Consorting with Angels’ (Bloodaxe, 2005), which was published alongside her accompanying anthology ‘Modern Women Poets’ (Bloodaxe, 2005). Deryn’s selected poems, ‘What It’s Like to Be Alive’, was published in 2016 and is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.

      In 2004 Deryn was named as one of Mslexia’s ‘top ten’ women poets of the decade, as well as being chosen as one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation poets.

      Deryn has considerable experience as a poetry judge, including the National Poetry Competition, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Prize (Poetry) and every two years chair the judging panel for the English Association’s Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for a best first collection of poetry.

      Deryn’s most recent book is Paula Rego: The Art of Story, the first full-length survey of one of the most distinctive and important modern artists.

      Visit Deryn’s website here.

      Her profile page at the University of Liverpool is here.

    • Will Kemp

      Will Kemp has won the Keats-Shelley Prize (2016), the Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition (2014), the Debut Collection Award (2010), the Envoi International (2010) and the Cinnamon Short Story Award (2015). He has also been runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Prize (2013) and the Poetry Society’s Stanza Competition (2011), and highly commended in other competitions, including the Bridport and the Plough. Will regards a commendation in the Keats-Shelley Prize 2006 as the turning point in his writing career since it spurred him on during a time of self-doubt.

      Cinnamon Press has published his collections to date, Nocturnes (2011), Lowland (2013) and The Painters Who Studied Clouds (2016), as well as his award-winning pamphlet, The Missing Girl (2015). His poems have been published in various journals, including: Ambit, Envoi, The Guardian, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, Magma, The North, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poetry News, Poetry Scotland, The Rialto, The Times and Smith’s Knoll.

    • Essay Judges

      Professor Sharon Ruston

      Professor Sharon Ruston is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, having previously taught at Bangor, Keele and Salford.

      Her research specialism concerns the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. Her first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley’s concept of vitality in his major poetry. Since then, she has worked on Mary Wollstonecraft’s interest in natural history, William Godwin’s interest in mesmerism, and Humphry Davy’s writings on the sublime. These form chapters of her most recent book, Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

      In 2020, Sharon published (with Tim Fulford) the four volume Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle with Oxford University Press. Read a Q&A with Sharon and Professor Fulford at the BARS Blog.

      Visit Sharon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.

    • Professor Simon Bainbridge

      Professor Simon Bainbridge is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. He teaches and writes at the University of Lancaster.

      His main research interest is in the relationship between the writing of the Romantic period and its historical context. He is the author of Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Oxford University Press, 2003) and the editor of Romanticism: A Sourcebook. He has published in journals such as Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net and The Byron Journal and has written essays and entries for An Oxford Companion to The Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, and The Oxford Handbook to English Literature and Theology. Among other current projects he is working on the literature and culture of mountaineering in the Romantic period.

      Visit Simon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.