Guide Your Poems into print with Nine Arches Press


Primers is an annual mentoring and publication scheme organised by Nine Arches Press. It provides a unique opportunity for three talented poets to find publication and receive a programme of supportive feedback, mentoring and promotion. We're delighted to launch Primers again for 2019 in its fifth volume.

The selecting editors for Volume Five are poet Jacqueline Saphra and Nine Arches Press editor Jane Commane.

"I can’t wait to immerse myself in this round of submissions. I’m looking for brave new poets who really have something to say in these challenging times and make use of the distilled, musical and mysterious qualities of poetry to say it." - Jacqueline Saphra


Previous winners include poets Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch, Aviva Dautch, Cynthia Miller, Ben Bransfield, Marvin Thompson, Katie Griffiths, Geraldine Clarkson, Lucy Ingrams, Maureen Cullen, and most recently Amelia Loulli, Victoria Richards and Lewis Buxton. Could it be you this time?

The three selected poets will receive mentoring from poet Jacqueline Saphra, author of the TS Eliot shortlisted All My Mad Mothers, and editorial support  from Nine Arches Press editor and Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow Jane Commane, and publication in Primers Volume Five, followed by a series of events and readings. The shortlist of ten poets will be announced and shared at the end of October, with finalists announced in December 2019.

We are also pleased to confirm that we have made 25 free entries available for writers on a low income who would not otherwise be able to afford to enter Primers. Please see below for full details. 


Submission Rules


  • Primers is open to anyone aged 16 or over (at the time of submitting their poems) writing in English and who is resident in the UK.

  • Primers is open to poets who have not yet published a full-length collection of poems in the UK. We define a full-length collection as any collection of more than 40 pages. Previous publication in a pamphlet(s) of less than 40 pages is allowed

  • All submissions must be written in English and be the original work of the poet. Translations are not eligible.

  • Please do not enter poems in the initial submission which have been previously published in any form (in print or online, including social media), or are currently under submission to any journals or magazines

  • Please do not enter poems in the initial submission which have previously won a competition or have been submitted and are under consideration for any competition or prize.

  • If shortlisted, and poems in your Primers submission are subsequently published or placed or commended in a competition between the Primers submission deadline and the Primers publication date, your Primers submission will be disqualified.


How to Enter

  • Your Primers submissions should consist of a maximum of 6 poems and should be no longer than 10 pages long overall.  

  • All submissions must be typed, 12pt, in a plain font, and with each poem beginning on a separate sheet of paper.

  • Submissions should be formatted as one single PDFs or .doc or .docx Word documents and attached to your submission email.

  • Each submission should have a title. Please give the name of your submission and the name of your document the same title. Use specific not generic titles (i.e. ‘A Bag of Tricks’ not ‘Primers Submission’). Do not include your name in either the file name or the title of your submission.

  • Each page of your submission should include the title of your submission, but not your name or other personal details.

  • Submission is made by email and paid for at the Nine Arches online shop.

  • If you are unable to send online submissions due to accessibility issues, please contact Nine Arches Press directly or on 01788 226005


To send your Primers submission to us:

  • Please first pay for your entry or entries (by credit/debit card or PayPal) at our online shop. Take note of your order number(s) from your email payment confirmation (a hashtag and five numbers) as you'll need this to submit your poems.

  • Email your submission(s) as one single Word or PDF document to and please include the following in your email only:

                    your full name

                    your phone number

                    The title of your submission(s)

                    Your order number from your payment

                    In the subject line of your email, please also put the title of your submission.

  • All payments and submissions must be completed by midnight on 10th September 2019.

  • It is entrants' responsibility to ensure payment has been processed successfully. All payments will receive an email confirmation.

  • Successful submissions will receive an automatically-generated confirmation email, unless you have made multiple separate submissions, in which case only your first submission email will be acknowledged.

  • Any unpaid entries will be disqualified.

  • No alterations can be made to poems after submission.

  • If you have any technical issues with paying or submitting your poems, please contact us at not at the Primers email address.



Submission Fee and Closing Date

  • The cost of submission is £15.00 per submission of up to 6 poems.

  • Submissions open at noon on Wednesday 3rd July and the closing date is  midnight on Tuesday 10th September 2019. All payments and submissions must be received by the deadline. 

  • We recommend you enter early, as we may not be able to provide technical support at the last minute.

  • This fee supports the programme of development including mentoring and editing that the three selected poets will receive. 

  • Payment is non-refundable.



  • All submissions will be read by Jane Commane who will choose up to 100 submissions to share with the selecting editor Jacqueline Saphra and they will select the shortlist together. Submissions are read anonymously in the first round.

  • Shortlisted poets will be notified by 30th October 2019. The shortlist will appear on the Nine Arches Press website and blog.

  • Ten shortlisted poets will be asked to submit by email a further selection of 14 additional poems as well as the poems they submitted originally.

  • If shortlisted, up to 7 of your additional poems may previously have been published or placed in competitions.


Free Entries for Low-Income Writers

  • Applicants should initially email to confirm that they are on a low income and would like to apply for one of the free entries.

  • Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to the first 25 eligible entries.

  • We are operating this on an honesty basis – please do only apply for free entry if you are on a low income and would not otherwise be able to enter.



  • The editors will select three poets from the shortlist of ten, who will receive one-to-one mentoring and editorial support with Jacqueline Saphra and Jane Commane, leading to publication by Nine Arches Press in the annual Primers series.

  • Selected poets must be able to make themselves available for mentoring and editorial workshops either via phone/skype or in person, with dates by arrangement.

  • Copyright remains with the poet, although the organisers reserve the right to use the winning collection and any related material for publicity and marketing purposes.

  • Whilst the poet will retain copyright of the poems, the design and layout of the winning published collection will remain with Nine Arches Press. Nine Arches Press will retain the right to publish additional print and digital editions of the book and individual poems.

  • Selected poets will be given ten free books each, plus a 50% discount on purchasing any further copies.

  • Selected poets will need to sign a publishing contract with Nine Arches Press for legal and copyright purposes.

  • Winning poets should be prepared to make themselves available for promotional performances and events in 2020, unless prevented by personal circumstances.

  • Please note that we will ensure performances are fully accessible and inclusive for 

    poets with disabilities.

  • Entry indicates an acceptance of these rules. Submissions failing to meet these rules will be disqualified.

  • The editors’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


Dates to remember:

Submissions open: 12noon on 3rd July 2019

Submission deadline: midnight on 10th September 2019

Shortlist announced: 30th October 2019

Deadline for additional submissions by ten shortlisted poets: 14th November 2019

Finalists announced: 4th December 2019

Publication of Primers Volume Five: 28th May 2020

Primers: Volume Five selecting editor and mentor:

This year's Primers selecting editor is

Jacqueline Saphra

Jacqueline Saphra is a poet and playwright. Her first collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011) was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women  (The Emma Press 2017) won The Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. In 2017 A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller was published by Hercules Editions and her collection All My Mad Mothers, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize. Her most recent play, The Noises, funded by the T.S. Eliot Foundation and Arts Council England, was produced at The Old Red Lion Theatre in April 2019. Jacqueline’s next collection, Dad, Remember You are Dead is due from Nine Arches Press in September 2019. 

Jacqueline joins poet and editor Jane Commane as selecting editor for Primers Volume Five. 

What difference does being a Primers poet make?

Marvin Thompson: 

"My Primers 2 experience began with a whirlwind of mentoring with Jacob Sam-La Rose and Jane. From this, my craft and confidence soared. Then came the readings with Ben and Cynthia: magical nights!

My recent successes can be linked back to the technical skills I developed as a Primers poet. 

Firstly, I have had two long poems published in the illustrious Long Poem Magazine. One of these was submitted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, 2019.

Secondly, in April, Peepal Tree Press, world leaders in Black British and Caribbean literature, accepted my debut manuscript. Road Trip will be published in Spring 2020."

Have you read our most recent Primers poetry book?

Get Primers Volume Four here

Ready to send your poems to Primers?

  • Click the Pay Here button to pay

We look forward to reading your poems