Poetry and prose has a long tradition in secure establishments and the criminal justice system. With the only materials a pen and paper, we receive thousands of written entries each year. Poetry is the most popular type of Awards submission – with around 3,000 poems each submitted annually across Poem, Anthology, Poetry Collection and our Themed Category.
Other written categories of the Koestler Awards include: flash fiction and short story, longer fiction and novel, non-fiction, blog, essay, article and review, life story, braille, poem, poetry collection, anthology, stage play, radio play, screenplay and song writing.
The Koestler Trust continues in partnership with Synergy Theatre Project to deliver the Stage Play category. Synergy are offering playwriting workshops to support entries. If you are interested in Synergy coming to your prison then contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All Stage Play entries will be read and judged by a team of theatre professionals and ex-prisoners. Every entry will receive written feedback. You can read our Stage Play Guidelines here.
We look for innovative ways to present writing to the public, within exhibitions, books, events and posters. A recent showcase of written entries to the Koestler Awards is Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 1, which presents some of the best poetry from the 2016 and 2017 Koestler Awards, with a foreword by Poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
To read a selection of written work from the 2018 Koestler Awards, with writing tips and ideas to inspire you to pick up a pencil yourself, click here to download our booklet Voices from Prison.
Scroll down and click on the titles to read some previous Koestler Award winning pieces of writing.