Talk Like Shakespeare Poetry Contest Official Rules

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January 27, 2021

Official Rules

We recommend all poets read the rules carefully before entering. If you have questions, please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Rules: General


  1. The competition is open to anyone aged 17 or over at the time of entering. International entries are welcome.
  2. The closing date of the competition is midnight (Central Standard Time), 05 March 2021.
  3. There is no limit on the number of entries a single entrant can make. All entries will be considered anonymously by the judges.
  4. No alterations to poems once entered.
  5. All entries made via the website and will receive automatic confirmation of payment made.
  6. Telephone or email confirmation of receipt is not available. The Author Encounter staff cannot confirm the content of documents submitted online, so please ensure you send the correct version.
  7. Confirmation for correct format of video submissions is unavailable; please be sure to read and use the video format rules.
  8. The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice and not to award prizes if, in the judges’ opinion, such an action is justified.
  9. The judges read all the entries; their decision is final. Neither the judges nor The Author Encounter or any partner or sponsors of this contest will enter correspondence.
  10.  No contest entry fees will be returned.
  11.  Contest rules are subject to change.
  12. This contest needs a minimum of 20 poets to be successful. All poets will be notified in the event the contest is cancelled. 
  13.  By submitting, you agree to all contest rules.
  14. No current employee of The Author Encounter is eligible to enter The Talk Like Shakespeare Poetry Contest.

Rules: Poems General guidelines

  1. All entries are judged anonymously, and the poet’s name should not appear on the poem itself. 
  2. All poems must have a title and must not exceed 40 lines (excluding title). Entries follow the rules of the categories it is submitted to.
  3. Poems must be the entrant’s original work.
  4. No Profanity 
  5. Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media, broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before 31 March 2021.

Rules: 3 categories of Poems

  1. Sonnets
    1. Sonnets must be in the Shakespearean style.
    2. Minimum of 14 lines of iambic pentameter
    3. 3 quatrains, or groups of verses with an alternating rhyme scheme (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF)
    4. A rhyming couplet conclusion (GG)
  2. On a Theme of Talking (Original)
    1. Unpublished (made for this contest)
  3. Performance
    • Video submission of your poem
    • Video submissions should be no longer than 60 seconds (1min)
    • Video can have closed captioning using the srt. format (optional)
    • Video resolution must be at least 1080p (1920 x 1080) (60 fps) or 4K (3840 × 2160)
    • The video file size should be no bigger than 3GB or about 190MB acceptable format is .mp4
    • 1 cover image 3840x 2160 pixels to use as a cover image for the video.

Rules: Fees

  1. The entry fee is $15 for up to 3 poem submissions in any of the 3 categories.

  2. Entry fees include a 1-year Reader Membership to The Author Encounter.

  3. The Author Encounter members (those who are members before submitting to the contest) get a discount.

Rules: Winners

  1. Prizewinners will be notified before April 23, 2021, and invited to an awards event on April 23, 2021. All winners are expected to provide a biography between 250 and 400 words, and a photograph. The photo must be at least 400 x 400 px in acceptable format, including jpeg and png.

  2. The copyright of each poem remains with the author. Authors of the winning poems, by entering the competition, grant The Author Encounter and its sponsors the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast their poem. Use of the poems elsewhere for one year from April 2021 is subject to permission from The Author Encounter.


What’s a Talking Theme?

This contest is inspired by the unique way Shakespeare shaped the dialogue in his plays and sonnets with wit and subtext. Your poem doesn’t have to be written in Middle English; we want any poem about Shakespearean speech or about talking in general.

Do my poems have to be sonnets to enter?

They do not! Choose the category On a Theme of Talking and submit any poetry style.

What if I decide to withdraw my entry?

Entry fees will not be refunded.

How will each poem be scored?

Each poem will be judge base on the following evaluation criteria.

Grammar & Theme

Sonnets should follow all the rules of a Shakespearean sonnet. It should fit the Shakespearean theme of Talk like Shakespeare.

Minimum of 14 lines of iambic pentameter

3 quatrains, or groups of verses with an alternating rhyme scheme (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF)

A rhyming couplet conclusion (GG)


Image & Discourse

The images in the poem should be unique and provide the reader with vivid sensory detail. The discourse of the poem should avoid cliché expressions by presenting original phrasing.



Fixed meters should follow standard rules of prosody and should not sound mechanical. That is, metrical poems should maintain their structure of stressed/unstressed syllables without making the language seem wooden or monotonous. Free rhythm should have a distinct beat or current of sound. A poem written in free rhythm should not merely be prose chopped into shorter lines.



Poems should be creative and as original as possible while still keeping with the Shakespearean talk theme. Cliché comparison and phrasing should be used sparingly and in a fun and creative way.

Enter Here

Answer the question. Pay entry fee. Submit poems.

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