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The Poetry Book Society (PBS) and Mslexia are delighted to announce the winners of the prestigious Women’s Poetry Prize, judged by UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. First prize is awarded to Penny Boxall for “A Wedding List”. Penny will receive £2000, publication in Mslexia and the PBS Bulletin, a mentorship by PBS Book Selector Sandeep Parmar and a Cove Park writing retreat. Second Prize is awarded to Rosemary McLeish for ‘Red Rebecca’ for its “salty relish and brio”; Third Prize to Laura Jenner’s ‘Mrs Snowball’ for its “entertaining fairytale quality” and the £500 prize for an unpublished poet goes to Emma Hellyer for her “ambitious poem” ‘Lemon studies in nine segments’.

Judge Carol Ann Duffy claimed: “I’m always looking for poems with a sense of life, light and force about them. The 20 [winning] poems [are] all evidence of women engaging intelligently and skilfully with their art [...] ‘A wedding list’ by Penny Boxall – impressed me immediately because it managed to achieve so much in just 16 lines [...] I found its theme, of a relationship that’s not working, very moving.”

Carol Ann Duffy's full comments can be read in Mslexia and PBS Spring Bulletin. The PBS will be revealing all the winning poems daily at throughout December.


PENNY BOXALL is 31 and works as a Development Manager at Shandy Hall (Laurence Sterne’s house). Her poetry collections are Who Goes There? (Valley Press, 2018) and Ship of the Line (Eyewear 2014, reissued by Valley Press 2018) which won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award in 2016. 

Congratulations to the other winners and finalists

  • SECOND PRIZE: Rosemary McLeish, ‘Red Rebecca (A song of the Hebrides)’
  • THIRD PRIZE: Laura Jenner, ‘Mrs Snowball’
  • PRIZE FOR PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED POET: Emma Hellyer, ‘Lemon studies in nine segments’
  • Brooke Baker Belk, ‘For Chase, leaving for China’
  • Judy Brown, ‘On not leaving the house all day’
  • Jeanette Burton, ‘I write Christmas cards whilst listening to a report on Swiss guinea pigs’
  • Geraldine Clarkson, ‘Out-of-hours’
  • Natalie Crick, ‘Chadlington Village, Hampshire’
  • Kerry Darbishire, ‘Planting parsley with my father’
  • Harriet David, ‘The diet of John the Baptist’
  • Nicola Garrard, ‘Birch syrup’
  • Mari Girling, ‘Specimen’
  • A P Hill, ‘Labour’
  • Aileen La Tourette, ‘Porches’
  • Michal Leibowitz, ‘Pink’
  • Rachael Matthews, ‘do not be lulled by the dainty starlike blossoms’
  • Pauline Plummer, ‘Swallowing Ireland’
  • Lynn Thornton, ‘Heatwave’
  • Katie Watson, ‘Toast’


DAME CAROL ANN DUFFY DBE FRSL HonFBA HonFRSE is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009, the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly gay or bisexual poet to hold the position. Her collections include Standing Female Nude, winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan, which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time, which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture, winner of the T S Eliot Prize.

THE POETRY BOOK SOCIETY is a unique poetry book club founded by TS Eliot in 1953 to “propagate the art of poetry”. The PBS is proud to showcase the best new contemporary poetry, including powerful female poets.

MSLEXIA is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to redressing the gender imbalance in publishing through a quarterly creative writing magazine for women, annual events, and a roster of prestigious competitions and awards.

We'll be publishing all of the winning poems throughout December on our website so watch this space for more details soon. PBS Members can also read a fuller extract from Carol Ann Duffy's Judge's report in the Spring 2019 Bulletin alongside the Top 4 poems. Join today for your copy in the new year. 

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