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Westival Poetry Competition


Literature has been a core strand of our festival since its inception in 1976. In recent years, Edna O’Brien, John Banville, Paul Durcan, Dermot Healy, Mike McCormack, Donal Ryan and Kevin Barry have joined us to share their work. An annual highlight is the poetry competition, where along side world renowned poets we celebrate new voices in our international poetry competition.

This year’s first prize is €1,000, with two runners-up prizes of €200 and €100 respectively. There is an entry fee of €15 for up to three poems. The closing entry date is August 30th 2019.

Winners will be announced during the festival in beautiful Westport, Co. Mayo Ireland, on Thursday the 25th of October 2018. Shortlisted entrants will be notified in late September and invited to attend the Open Reading at the festival to present their poems before the prizewinners are publicly announced.

Competition Rules

  • The closing date is August 30th 2019.
  • Entries must not, by the closing date of submission, have been published or broadcast in any medium.
  • Entries must be entrant’s own work.
  • Entries should consist of no more than 40 lines.
  • The adjudicators will not enter into any correspondence concerning the competition.
  • The decision of the judges is final.
  • You may enter as often as you like provided entries are accompanied by the appropriate fees.
  • Writer’s identity will not be seen by the judges.
  • Applications can only be made and paid for online. We do not accept cash or cheque payments. 



    Last Years Winning Poem 

    The Big Freeze
    They were found together,
    limbs stretched like starched shirts
    abandoned on a washing line,
    fingers, stalacto-stalagmites of frozen touch.
    Winter had finally seized them,
    their black crow cloaks no match for the worst
    whiteout in a hundred years.

    In stories they were witches,
    two sisters hiding their eccentricities
    in the anonymity of a bog,
    magic spells and caldrons
    fodder of tale-tellers around the
    open fires of my childhood.

    But hiding in the pinked dapple
    of a rogue beech I had watched them once,
    their meagre chatter bouncing off each other
    like the sonar of a bat, their faces soft with kindnesses
    as one by one they picked words from the earth
    and rested them upon the other’s mouth
    like a coming melt of snow.
    Lynda Tavakoli

    2019 Judges

    Geraldine Mitchell
    Geraldine Mitchell is an Irish writer and poet who was born in Dublin and who, since 2000, has been living in Co. Mayo. In 2008, she won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and a Mayo County Council Bursary to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. In 2011, the Arts Council of Ireland awarded her a literature bursary.

    Geraldine is the author of two novels for young people and a biography and, since moving to Mayo, she has published three collections of poetry, World Without Maps and Of Birds and Bones. Her third collection, Mountains for Breakfast, was launched in March 2017. She is part of the Writers in Schools programme, run by Poetry Ireland. She acted as Poetry Ambassador for Trócaire from 2012 to 2015. In 2016 and 2017 she judged the children’s poetry competition at Dromineer Literary Festival.
    John McAuliffe

    John McAuliffe is an Irish poet who has lived and worked in England since 2002. His fourth book, The Way In, was published in 2015 by The Gallery Press, as were Of All Places (2011), which was a PBS Recommendation. Next Door (2007) and A Better Life (2002) was shortlisted for a Forward prize. He co-directs the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester where he teaches poetry and co-edits The Manchester Review. He also writes a monthly poetry column for The Irish Times.

    Ger Reidy


    Ger Reidy has won several national poetry prizes and has received an Arts Council bursary. He is the author of Pictures from a Reservation and Drifting Under The Moon. Poetry Ireland, referring to Reidy's poems comment  "that they have Kavanagh like realism and eye for the particular.... his poems echo the grounded concision of Larkin". Ger’s latest book Before Rain was shortlisted for the Pigott Prize at the Listowel Writers Festival. His first collection of short stories Jobs for a Wet Day was published in 2015 and was nominated for the prestigious Edge Hill Prize.