Ballads for Reading Gaol

The Ballads for Reading Gaol poetry competition is open to both adults and children. International entries are welcome. The competition is free to enter.

Poems must relate to Reading Gaol and be in English. They may be free verse, ballad style is not required.

The judge for the competition is Stephen Moss, former literary editor of The Guardian.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Banksy’s Create Escape artwork
  • Oscar Wilde’s incarceration at Reading Gaol
  • The campaign to Save Reading Gaol, including the Reading Gaol Hug
  • Banksy’s offer to buy the Reading Gaol
  • The burial place of King Henry I
  • Something relating to the aspiration that the Reading Gaol should become an arts and heritage centre

Entrants are advised that the competition organisers agree with Oscar Wilde that the correct spelling is “gaol” not “jail”.

Competition entries must be submitted online using the entry form and must comply with the competition rules. In addition to being included in the main competition, entries by under 18s will be included in a minors competition.

Certificates will be awarded for the winning and highly commended poems. Video recordings of performances of the winning poems recited by a professional actor will be made.

Stephen Moss is a former literary editor of the Guardian. His books include The Rookie: An Odyssey through Chess (and Life) and Wisden Anthology 1978-2006: Cricket’s Age of Revolution