Forward/emagazine Creative Critics 2019

A Poetry Competition for Advanced Level Students

Creative Critics!

This year we’ve simplified the competition. It’s for 16-19 year olds only and there’s just one way of entering – by writing a poem of your own in response to one of the Forward shortlisted poems, along with a short commentary explaining how the poem influenced you. The reason? We were so bowled over by the superb quality of the poems and commentaries in last year’s competition that we’ve decided to make the whole competition Creative Critics from now on!

The judges

This year, the emagazine editors will be joined by poet and teacher Daljit Nagra to judge the competition.

Who can enter?

  • The competition is open to students in Years 12 and 13 (or equivalent), including those who have just finished their A Level (or equivalent) examinations.
  • This means that students sitting their A Levels in Summer 2019 are eligible to enter.
  • It is open to IB, BTEC and Pre-U, as well as A Level students.

How to enter

  • Download the poems.
  • Read and think about them. 
  • Write a creative response to one of the poems in the form of a poem (maximum 30 lines), along with a reflective commentary on it (maximum 300 words).

Submitting your entry

  • Download the entry form.
  • Complete the entry form with your details.
  • Type (or cut and paste) your writing under ‘Entry’. Check you meet the word limits.
  • Save your entry form (with your writing), using this format: ‘Name_School.docx’ (e.g. ‘JSmith_HighburyHigh.docx’).
  • Email your entry to, using Forward/emagazine Creative Critics Competition 2019 as the subject line.
  • Make sure your entry reaches us before the deadline of 5pm on 30th September 2019. We will not be able to accept entries received after this time.

The prizes

  • Winner: £200 and two tickets to the Forward Prize Ceremony on 20th October
  • Two runners-up: £50 and two tickets to the Forward Prize Ceremony on 20th October
  • The winning entry will be published in the February 2020 issue of emagazine


  • Deadline for entries: 5pm on 30th September 2019
  • Winners contacted: 11th October
  • Results announced online: 20th October
  • The Forward Prizes for Poetry Ceremony: 20th October
  • Results and the winning entry published in emagazine, February 2020

Last year's winners

Last year’s winner Natalie Perman writes:

Winning the Forward Student Critics’ Competition was an incredible opportunity; not only to read and respond to contemporary poets who are pushing the boundaries of how we define poetry, but also to meet up-and-coming poets who won, or were commended, in the other prize categories. The competition helped me to become a committee member of the Oxford University Poetry Society, one of the oldest student poetry societies in the world, and has given me the confidence to enter other competitions and submit my work for magazines. I was a Foyle’s Young Poet 2017 and was commended in 2018, and my work has appeared in various magazines and publications, such as ASH, the student-run termly poetry magazine, and on the Poetry Society website. The Forward Student Critics’ Competition was the push I needed to believe in my own writing, and allowed me to discover some of my new favourite poets.

To see the kind of thing we’re hoping for, download Natalie's winning poem and reflection and the two highly-commended creative-critical entries.