5th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Five Words Poetry Competition


Entries are now CLÓSED


Competition Overview

At around noon each Tuesday (UTC), from the 17th of April 2018, five words will be posted on this competition page. Entrants will have one week to compose and submit poems that include all five words given for that week.

The 6th International Five Words Competition will commence on Tuesday 17th April and will run for 42 weeks, until the 29th of January 2019.


A prize of 500 euros is awarded to one winner, who, if available will be invited to read at Ó Bhéal’s eleventh anniversary event, on Monday the 16th of April, 2018. 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 XI – 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 2017.

This year’s judges are Kathy D’Arcy and Rab Urquhart.

The five words offered each week for 2017-18 are sourced from the audiences of the fifth year of (fifty) Five Word Challenges, which were held each Monday evening during 2011-12 at Ó Bhéal – with a selection of extra 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.

Copyright of all submissions remains with each respective author.
Copyright on poems shortlisted and printed in Ó Bhéal’s annual publication Five Words,
remains with each respective author. Copies of each poem require the prior consent of the respective poet, and copies of the Five Words anthology require the prior consent of this publisher.

or for those of the bardic persuasion

‘le gach bó a buinín agus le gach leabhar a chóip’
(to each cow its calf and to every book its copy)
Diarmuid, 6th C. High King

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!

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)


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.)


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)


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)


by glass artist
Michael Ray


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