The Timothy Corsellis Prize 2019

The fifth annual Timothy Corsellis Prize for poetry in response to poets of the Second World War is now closed for entries. Thanks so much to all the entrants this year and congratulations to the winners, whose poems you can read in the sidebar!

Congratulations, too, to the longlisted poets whose work impressed the judges: Daniel Baksi, Luke Brand, Alice Brooker, Coco Cottam, Rob Dallos, April Egan, Alice Fagan, Jonny Gleadell, Winston Hammond, Courtney Hart, Tallulah Howarth, Molly Jankowski, Marina McCready, Amy McGinn, Andrew Millham, Natalie Perman, Lily Rachel, Tanya Singh, Jamie Smith, Tara Stankovic, Ellora Sutton, Olivia Todd, Anna Westwig and Vera K Yuen.

photo of field of poppies

Timothy Corsellis in 1938. Reproduced with permission of the Warden and Scholars of Winchester College.

Timothy Corsellis was a young poet and pilot killed in 1941. The Prize was set up in his name, with the support of his family, to encourage more people to read the powerful but lesser-known poets of the Second World War.

The Timothy Corsellis Prize asks you to respond to the life and/or work of a small selection of Second World War poets, including Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis, John Jarmain, Henry Reed, Anna Akhmatova, Gertrud Kolmar, Günter Eich and Timothy Corsellis.

Black and white photo of Miklós Radnóti looking to the side, taken in 1930Every year we add a new poet to our list of writers, and this year we are pleased to include Miklós Radnóti. Radnóti is one of the most celebrated Hungarian poets of the 20th century. Radnóti was murdered in 1944, along with twenty-one others on an exhausting march back from a slave camp at Bor, now Serbia. His body was thrown into a mass grave along with the others and, when the bodies were uncovered at the end of the door, he was identified by a small notebook of poems in his overcoat pocket. He is perhaps most remembered now for these poems which detail his time as a slave labourer, and chillingly foretell his own murder. Find out more about Miklós Radnóti, alongside the nine other poets on our roster, here.

2019 marks 75 years since the D-Day landings in Normandy. This year we particularly encourage young poets to read and respond to the works of Keith Douglas, who was killed during that invasion. Find out more about Douglas here.

The judges for the Timothy Corsellis Prize is Fran Brearton, MRIA, Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, and a recognised authority on 20th century war poetry; Karen Leeder, FRSA, poet and professor of Modern German Literature at New College, Oxford; Susie Thornberry, Assistant Director of the Imperial War Museum in London; and Judith Palmer, Director of The Poetry Society.

How to enter the Timothy Corsellis Prize

  1. Read this brief article placing Second World War Poetry in the context of the history of war poetry.
  2. Read more about the ten WWII poets featured in the Prize, and explore some of their poems.
  3. Choose one or more poet/s and write a poem in response to their life and/or poetry. It can be anything about their life or work – whatever inspires you.
  4. Send your poem in the body of an email to with the subject line ‘Corsellis Prize 2019’. Remember to include your name, age, gender, the county you live in, if you’re based in the UK, or the country you live in if you’re based outside the UK. Entrants aged 12 or younger on Sunday 15 September 2019 will need a parent or guardian to fill out this permission form if they haven’t already.
  5. Include a short commentary (up to 300 words) explaining the way in which your poem is a response to the life or work of the WWII poet/s.
  6. The deadline for entries is Sunday 15 September 2019. Good luck!

Calling all teachers!

We warmly encourage teachers to send in their students’ entries to the Timothy Corsellis Prize. We have a free, downloadable lesson plan to help bring Second World War poetry into your classroom. This discusses one of Timothy Corsellis’ poems in-depth, encouraging students to closely analyse the poem in order to write their own.

If you’d like to enter a set of entries from your students – and we would love to receive these! – then simply email the poems to, or post them to us at Timothy Corsellis Prize 2019, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street, London, WC2H 9BX. Please include a class entry form with your submission.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, by Agnn Foon, via flickr.


There will be a first, second and third prize winner, and several commended poets. The first prize winner will receive £100 book tokens; second and third prize winners will win £50 book tokens. All winners and commended poets will receive poetry books and goodies, and publication on Young Poets Network. The first prize poem will be published in The Poetry Society’s quarterly paper Poetry News.

General rules

  • The Timothy Corsellis Prize is open to individuals from all over the world up to the age of 25. Due to data protection rules, entrants aged 12 or younger will need a parent or guardian to fill out this permission form if they haven’t already done so.
  • Please send as many poems as you like. Include a short commentary (up to 300 words) explaining the way in which your poem(s) is/are a response to the life or work of the WWII poet/s.
  • The deadline for entries is Sunday 15 September 2019. This year’s Prize is now closed.

If you would like us to add you to the Young Poets Network mailing list, include ‘add me to the mailing list’ in the subject line of the email. If you would like us to confirm that we’ve received your entry, include ‘confirm receipt’ in the subject line. You may refuse to provide information about yourself.

By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network and The Poetry Society to reproduce your poem in print and online in perpetuity, though copyright remains with you. Please do be sure to check through the general Terms and Conditions for YPN challenges as well.

If you require this information in an alternative format (such as Easy Read, Braille, Large Print or screenreader friendly formats), or need any assistance with your entry, please contact us at

Young Poets Network would like to thank the Corsellis family for their generosity in establishing this Prize and their continuing support of The Poetry Society.

Published July, 2019

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