Ilkley Literature Festival Offers Opportunities for Writers and Artists

Ilkley Literature Festival is inviting applications from new and emerging writers for a selection of opportunities at this year’s festival. The popular Walter Swan Poetry Prize returns for its sixth year. The competition is for writers aged 18 and over and will be judged by the Festival’s 2021 Poet in Residence. First, second and third placed poets will receive £200, £100 and £75 respectively, and the winner will also receive a one-to-one feedback session with the 2021 Poet in Residence.

For no additional fee, entrants of the Walter Swan Poetry Prize aged 18 to 25 will automatically be considered for the subcategory prize for young adult writers in addition to the main prize. The prize will be judged by the 2021 Apprentice Poet in Residence. First, second and third place will receive £100, £75and £50 respectively. The names of the judges will be announced in July 2021.

All six winning poems will be announced in a special online event on National Poetry Day, Thursday 7 October 2021and the winners will be invited to read their entries within the event. All poems should respond to the prompt ‘The Return’ and the closing date for entries:31 July 2021, 11.30pm.

The Festival also have six Micro-Commissionsof £250 available to fund projects that respond to the theme of ‘Unreliable Narratives’. The aim of the micro-commissions is to showcase new work by writers and artists based in the North of England and is open to creatives at all stages of their career. The Festival is particularly keen to support writers and artists from backgrounds which are currently under-represented within the cultural sector, as well as those with an interest in collaborating across different art forms.

Finally, the Festival are also looking for a talented poet at the start of their career, based in the North of England, to be the new Apprentice Poet in Residence. This is a unique opportunity for a poet to create their own commission inspired by the festival’s programme themes, judge the 18-25 category of the Festival’s annual Walter Swan Poetry Prize, run a poetry/creative writing workshop for aspiring writers and work with the 2021 Poet in Residence.

ILF – 2019 Apprentice Poet in Residence Shash Trevett © Karol Wyszynski

Previous Apprentice Poets in Residence include Andrew McMillan–who went on to win the Guardian First Book Award; Eric Gregory Award winner Phoebe Power; Zodwa Nyoni–who went on to be Channel 4 writer in residence at West Yorkshire Playhouse; and Mark Pajak, who went on to win a Northern Writer’s Award, an Eric Gregory Award and the Bridport Prize; and 2019 joint Apprentice Poets in Residence Shash Trevett and Genevieve Carver.

The deadline for applications for the micro-commissions and the Apprentice Poet in Residence role is 12pm on Friday 4 June. Full details of how to apply for all of these opportunities can be found at