The winner of Ledbury Poetry’s £1,000 competition prize has been announced.

Naoise Gale won the cash prize and a week’s poetry course with The Arvon Foundaiton for her poem How (Not) to Say Impossible Things.

The competition’s judge, TS Eliot Prize-winning poet Joelle Taylor, said: “This poem ran into me.

“It is a breathless piece of writing, hard worked, bursting with surprising imagery. The way it negotiates language and pushes meaning; it is a big country at war with itself.

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“Using fragments from Kaveh Akbar’s How To Say The Impossible Thing (Pilgrim Bell, 2021), the poet addresses the self with an uncertain flamboyance that makes this poem a compelling joyride, an unsolvable mystery, and my first place choice for the Ledbury Prize 2022.”

Naoise, a lyrical poet from West Yorkshire, writes about addiction, psychosis, mental illness and neurodivergence.

Her work has been longlisted in the Disabled Poets Prize 2023, The Fish Poetry Prize 2022 and shortlisted in the Creative Futures’ Writers Award 2021, amongst others.

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Oluwaseun Olayiwola, a poet, critic and choreographer living in London, scooped second prize for his poem Simulacrum.

Joelle said: “The use of language within this poem is arresting. It’s brash, confident, surprising, and lived.

“There is a violence that stalks the poem, a sense of both defiance and threat. I am particularly drawn to muscular poetry, poems with dirty teeth, that leave the reader panting and unsure of what just walked past them, and this is certainly one of them.”

'Impressive track record'

Third prize went to Toby Campion, a poet and playwright from Leicester, for Ghazal for the Screaming.

Joelle said: “I chose this poem for its deep heart, for its echoing grief, and its call to community.

“Its content reflects the increasing authoritarianism of our times, particularly with regard to LGBT rights globally, which it explores through the logic of its semi-surreal world.”

Mary Morris, artistic director at Arvon, said: “Ledbury Poetry has an impressive track record when it comes to recognising fresh talent, and so Arvon is delighted to be working in partnership with this competition to help develop and nurture that talent, whether in one of our writing houses or online through Arvon at Home.”

A full list of winners and highly commended poems can be found at