4th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Five Words Poetry Competition

Entries are now Closed

Winner and shortlist TBA 1st of March 2017


Competition Overview

At around noon each Tuesday (GMT), from the 12th of April 2016, five words are posted on this competition page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit poems that include all five words given for the week.

The competition runs for 42 weeks, until the 31st of January 2017.


A prize of 500 euros will be awarded to one winner, and if available, invited to read at Ó Bhéal’s tenth anniversary event on Monday 10th of April, 2017 (an additional travel fee of 100 euro plus B&B accommodation will be provided for this). The shortlisted poems and winning entry will also be published in Five Words Vol X – 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 Afric McGlinchey and John W. Sexton.

The five words offered each week for 2016-17 are sourced from the audiences of the fourth year of (fifty) Five Word Challenges, which were held each Monday evening during 2010-11 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.

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
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!

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)