7th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Five Words Poetry Competition

December 10th – 17th 2019


split   inevitable   stereo   seaweed   hemisphere


Competition Overview   

Every Tuesday around noon (UTC), from the 16th of April 2019 until the 28th of January 2020, 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 2019/2020 (7th) competition will run 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 13th of April 2020. 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 XIII – 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 2020.

The 2019/20 judges are Michael Ray and Afric McGlinchey.
The five words offered each week for the 7th Five Words competition (2019-20) are sourced from Ó Bhéal’s seventh year of live Monday evening Five Word Challenges (held during 2013-14). A small, varied selection of additional words are also used 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. Poems should be newly written, during the relevant 7-day period. There is no limit to quantity of entries, although each payment and submission should be made separately.

Entries to be sent no later than 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

Two poets are invited to judge the competition each year. All entries are numbered and anonymised by Ó Bhéal and presented to the judges at intervals during the approx. 41 week period.

For postal entries, please print out and complete the submission form, and post together with your attached poem (on which nothing other than the title and poem appear).

Email entries should only be sent via the above email address, 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 derived randomly by the audience.

Best of Luck!

6th Five Words Competition Results, announced 3rd March 2019   

Judges: Bernadette McCarthy and Matthew Geden

Monolith by   Mary Anne Smith (England) winner
The Idea of Snow  by   by Jenny Pollak (Australia) highly commended
My grandmother goes
to the temple
by   Sophia Li (USA) highly commended
The Lyric Impulse  by   Steve Xerri (England) highly commended
Omens  by   Joan Gooding (England)
Detachment by   Geraldine McCarthy (Ireland)
Peckham Flaneur by   Giles Constable (England)
La Llorona /
Weeping Woman
by   Derek Sellen (England)
What you woke to  by   Steve Xerri (England)
Karst Landscape  by   Gillian Laker (England)
Vardo  by   Jill Munro (England)
Nexus  by   Tamara Miles (USA)


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