Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest

$1000 for one glorious poem

Deadline: February 28, 2021

Extended Deadline: March 9, 2021

Sponsored by former The New Quarterly editor Kim Jernigan and family in celebration of her father, Nick Blatchford, of the man who sparked the family’s love of poetry. This contest is for poems written in response to an existing occasion, personal or public, or poems that make an occasion of something ordinary or by virtue of the poet’s attention. We are interested in light verse and in verse more sober, in the whole spectrum of tones and occasions. One of Nick’s own poems, which we think captures the broadness of his (and our) sense of occasion, is pictured below. It originally appeared in Issue 100 of The New Quarterly.



  • A $1000 top prize will be awarded for one work of occasional verse (no word limit).
  • An additional $1000 will be distributed as the judges fancy.
  • All entries will be considered for publication in The New Quarterly ($ 50/poem paid upon publication).
  • We publish a selection of poems from one longlist alongside the winners, some of which have been selected for other honours (e.g. publication in Best Canadian Poetry in English).
  • Entry fee: $40 for up to 3 poems (includes a 1-year Canadian subscription or renewal to The New Quarterly). Additional poems are $5 each.
  • Entrants’ anonymity will be preserved throughout the judging process.
  • Decisions will be posted by late August. All entrants will be notified of the results by email.


  • Entrants must be Canadian (citizen or resident).
  • Submissions must be unpublished, nor can they have been accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Submissions are accepted online only.
  • We can accept payment by cheque or credit card over the phone. Contact us for more information.

Formatting Guidelines

  • Upload each poem in a separate document.
  • Submissions must be in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .Pages format.
  • Include a word count at the end of each poem.
  • Include page numbers at the top right hand corner of each submission. Format page numbers as: “Page 1 of x.”
  • Entrant’s name must not appear on the submission document.
  • Entries may be accompanied by a few lines describing the event that occasioned the poem, or the poem can be left to speak for itself.

Interviews with Past Contest Winners

2019: Terence Young for “Tender is the Night”
2018: Catherine Malvern for December’s Child
2017: Fiona Tinwei Lam for “Test”
2016: Ruth Daniell for “Wedding Anniversary”
2015: Cori Martin for “Quilters”
2013: Suzanne Nussey for “Poem for the First Sunday of Advent”
2012: Anne Marie Todkill for “Non sequitur”
2011: Kerry-Lee Powell for “The Lifeboat”

Please Note:

If you already have a subscription to The New Quarterly for the coming year, we ask that you kindly consider gifting the subscription included with your entry to a friend. By opting to gift or donate your subscription, you will make our accountants happy and introduce someone new to The New Quarterly!