6th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Five Words Poetry Competition

December 18th – 25th 2018

wine   gift   dark   weight   lyric


Competition Overview

Every Tuesday around noon (UTC), from the 17th of April 2018 until the 29th of January 2019, five words will be posted on this competition page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit one or more poems which include all five words given for that week.

The 2018/2019 (6th) competition runs for 41 weeks.


A prize of 500 euros is awarded to one winner, who, if available will be invited to read at Ó Bhéal’s twelfth anniversary event, on Monday the 15th of April 2019. An additional travel fee of 100 euro plus B&B accommodation will be provided for this. The winner also receives a physical award, hand-crafted by acclaimed glass artist (and poet) Michael Ray.

The shortlisted poems and winning entry will also be published in Five Words Vol XII – the next annual anthology of five word poems, to be launched at the same event. A shortlist of twelve poems including the overall winner will be announced by the first week of March 2019.

This year’s judges are Bernadette McCarthy and Matthew Geden.

The five words offered each week for 2018-19 are sourced from the audiences of the sixth year of (fifty) Five Word Challenges, held each Monday evening during 2012-13 (Ó Bhéal 6th year), with a selection of words added due to deletion of duplicates, colloquialisms, etc.

Submission Guidelines

Download your submission form here.

Entry is open to all countries. Poems cannot exceed 50 lines in length (including line breaks), and must include all five words listed during this week. A modicum of poetic license is acceptable. As long as the original spelling is intact within your syntax, you’re welcome to pluralise, join or even split the word to form two adjoining words. There is no limit on submission quantities, although each payment and submission will need to be made separately. Entries to be sent no later that 12pm on Tuesday.

Submissions carry a 5 euro entrance fee.

Payment should be made via this paypal button before continuing.

Once payment is made, please copy your poem into the completed submission form (one poem per form), and email to

fivewords [at] obheal.ie

or by post (postmarked by Tuesday at latest) to:

Ó Bhéal
Five Words Poetry Competition
c/o Civic Trust House
50 Popes Quay

For postal entries, please print out and complete the submission form, and post together with your attached poem (in which nothing other than the title and poem appear). As is usual practice, all entries are logged and numbered by our allocated filter programmers so that judges cannot see the names of the entrants. Email entries should be sent via the email address given above, not via the submissions [at] obheal [dot] ie email link on the home page, which is only for non-competition entries, written and performed live during each Monday evening event – from words offered up in random by the audience.

Best of Luck!

5th Five Words Competition Results, announced 7th March 2018

Judges: Kathy D’Arcy and Rab Urquhart

Ptarmigan by   Jill Munro (England) winner
Among Starlings   by   Margaret McCarthy (Ireland) highly commended
A Dream of my Dead Grandmother
in the Modern Art Museum   by   Derek Sellen (England) highly commended
Disciplining the Modern Satyr   by   Mary-Jane Holmes (England)
Nothing To See  by   Giles Constable (England)
How We Are   by   Ted O’Regan (Ireland)
Writing for the Ó Bhéal
Open-Mic   by   Jim Crickard (Ireland)
Amber   by   Ted O’Regan (Ireland)
Reindeer Moss   by   Tamara Miles (U.S.A.)
Every Sunday Ever   by   Kirsten Irving (England)
Centenary  by   Ted O’Regan (Ireland)
My Mother’s Birthplace  by   Tamara Miles (U.S.A.)


4th Five Words Competition Results, announced 5th March 2017

Judges: Afric McGlinchey and John W. Sexton

Identifications by   John Baylis Post (Ireland) winner
Milk   by   Siobhan Campbell (Ireland) highly commended
The Safety  by   Tamara Miles (U.S.A.) highly commended
Eve   by   Siobhan Campbell (Ireland)
LOVELOCKS  by   Jane Boxall (U.S.A.)
Only Connected   by   Margaret McCarthy (Ireland)
Perspective   by   Ted O’Regan (Ireland)
THE ZOMBIE-MAKER   by   Derek Sellen (England)
Minor Deities   by   Tamara Miles (U.S.A.)
A fickle god   by   Margaret McCarthy (Ireland)
STITCHES  by   Jane Boxall (U.S.A.)
The Buttonhole   by   John D. Kelly (Northern Ireland)

Click here to view a pdf of Five Words Vol X


3rd Five Words Competition Results, announced 28th February 2016

Judges: Marie Coveney and Colm Scully

The Dancehall on the Summit of the Bloodiest Head of the Twenty Six Headed Giant by   John W. Sexton (Ireland) winner
Tuesday on a Fulcrum   by   Beth Somerford (England) highly commended
Commuter   by   Janet Lees (England) highly commended
The Night of the Nightjar   by   Mary Anne Smith (England)
Tribes   by   Pam Szadowski (England)
An awful hush   by   Jenny Pollak (Australia)
Chinese Zodiac:
Year of the Fire Monkey
by   Tamara Miles (formerly Gantt) (U.S.A.)
An unread novella in a
charity shop
by   Janet Lees (England)
Igloo   by   Shirley Bell (England)
Ragwort   by   Derek Sellen (England)
A Coin in the Soft Machine   by   John W.Sexton (Ireland)
Sky, an Open Window   by   Tamara Miles (formerly Gantt) (U.S.A.)

Click here to view a pdf of Five Words Vol IX


2nd Five Words Competition Results, announced 1st March 2015

Judges: Billy Ramsell and Jennifer Matthews

Survivor   by   Derek Sellen (England) winner
Sonnet in B Major   by   Afric McGlinchey (Ireland) highly commended
Home Cooking   by   Adannaya Igwe (UK) highly commended
Saved   by   Liz Smith (England)
Breakfast   by   Sheena Blackhall (Scotland)
At the Hair Clinic   by   Derek Sellen (England)
The Snooze Button   by   Margaret Mc Carthy (Ireland)
The Sectioning   by   Bernadette McCarthy (Ireland)
I Coin a Line   by   Mary Fahy (Ireland)
The Stereogram   by   Anthony Scott (England)
Black Mountain Rebel   by   Tess Sheridan Adams (Ireland)
False North   by   John W. Sexton (Ireland)

Click here to view a pdf of Five Words Vol VIII


1st Five Words Competition Results, announced 1st March 2014

Judges: Cal Doyle and Paul Casey

Old Maps and Books   by   Don Nixon (England)
Fado in a Lisbon Bar   by   Don Nixon (England) winner
Gipsy Girl   by   Eithne Reynolds (Ireland)
The Magician’s Hat   by   Linda Mills (USA)
Matinée Idol   by   Richard Hawtree (Ireland)
Postcard  by   Joy Howard (England)
A boy of six thousand parts   by   Janet Lees (England) highly commended
Palimpsest  by   Janet Lees (England)
Frozen moment   by   Afric McGlinchey (Ireland) highly commended
Life on Mars   by   Colm Scully (Ireland)
The Choice   by   Tom Dredge (Ireland)
At the Banquet   by   Máire Wren (Ireland)

Click here to view a pdf of Five Words Vol VII


by glass artist
Michael Ray


Inaugural competition winner Don Nixon (R.I.P. 2014), with glass artist (and poet) Michael Ray