The Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry

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Front cover - Dai Fry.jpg


Sunday 5th June, 2022.

To commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of Welsh, Swansea poet, Dai Fry, Black Bough poems are proud to announce a poetry competition in memory of the author of 'Under Photon Crowns'.

Dai Fry, originally from Tycoch in Swansea, took up poetry in retirement. In a four year period, he produced a body of electrically-vivid, metaphysical poetry taking in the awe of the cosmos, the power of mythologies and the charged atmosphere of place and landscape . Read about Dai and his work here

We are looking for poets from anywhere and everywhere to submit one, mystical, short poem that will blow our minds. The judging panel are Swansea poets Polly Oliver and Matthew M. C. Smith, and our guest judge, Min Tabb, Dai's wife. We're very pleased that Min is involved in this contest.

We recommend that you get yourself a copy of Under Photon Crowns and read our previous publications, such as Deep Time 1 and Deep Time 2 to delve further into the modern mythic mystic.

Rules/ Guidance

1) Submission of one poem only. DEADLINE midnight UK time, Sunday 5th June, 2022.

2) We are looking for imagistic, atmospheric poems that are a maximum of ten lines. Poems should be in English but we welcome a translation to go with the poem and also poems that combine bilingualism. Some explanation for the judges may be need, which could go in your poem attachment or body of the e-mail.

3) These must be new, inventive, previously unpublished poems. We want poets to really go for it, straying from cliche or being derivate. Inspire us, terrify us, grip our imaginations. So that the contest is fair, the poems must ne completely unpublished (including not being published online). We read widely!

4) We have a 'pay what you can' scheme, which will cover the cost of the prizes and, most importantly, coffee for the judges. Minimum suggested tip £2.00 via Paypal (you can pay 'f and f' if you are a friend to Black Bough; see link below). Let us know if you gave something so we can say a proper thanks. You can also use the Ko-Fi link advertised on our social media.

5) Prize money to be announced - a minimum of £50.00 for first prize and a commemorative prize. Two runner-up prizes to be announced.

6) Please send your poem in a Word attachment (without your name in the attachment) to You should receive an auto-reply e-mail and the results of the contest will be on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in June 2022. Please give your name and tell us about yourself in the e-mail.

7) Shortlisted and winning poems will be featured on social media and published in a future Black Bough poetry edition.

8) We reserve the right to update our conditions of the contest at any point. All queries to Matthew. M. C. Smith, editor of Black Bough Poetry.

Polly Oliver is a broadcast journalist and a twice Pushcart-prize nominated writer. See Polly's Silver Branch feature here.

Matthew M. C. Smith is a Best of the Net nominated writer and the editor of Black Bough Poetry.

It's an honour that Min has agreed to be our guest judge.

Good luck! We're very excited about this new initiative!


And we know that on the mystic plane Dai is loving it too.

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Min Tabb, Guest Judge
Polly Oliver, Guest Judge
Matthew M. C. Smith, Chief Mystic.

2-day submission window

* This submission period is now closed

Christmas/ Winter 2022/23

Following on from our Christmas/ winter print edition 2020/21, and Christmas/ Winter 2021/22 we will be publishing a new, third volume for Christmas 2022/23. It's one of the highlights of the year and we welcome poems on all cultural and folk traditions around this time of year (Diwali, solstice, Hannukah, Mari Lwyd, etc.)

The editorial team is Matthew M. C. Smith (Editor), Damien B. Donnelly and M.S. Evans (sub-editors).

The submission period when we will accept your work is Saturday January 29th January 2022 to Sunday 30th January 2022 (only 2 days) Poems before or after this date are highly unlikely to be read or responded to given our capacity.

If you are already accepted in next year's edition, please do not submit on this occasion.

You can expect a response from us by 30th June, 2022 (within 5 months) but hopefully earlier.

We look for imagistic, suggestive poems, following the idea of 'less is more' and publish vivid poems that avoid cliché and have subtlety. We recommend that you purchase and read our previous editions before submitting and also read up on imagism. Narrative poems are rarely published here. We strongly recommend you obtain a copy of either or both Christmas/ winter editions which are available on Amazon. You'll get a very clear idea of the different styles of poems we publish and will get inspired! 


Usual submission guidelines:

a) Poets are invited to submit three micro/ short poems. These must be previously unpublished.

b) The poems should not exceed ten lines long. Please send in Garamond font, size 12, in the submission window. We welcome bilingual versions of the same poem (eg. Welsh and English versions).

c) We’d prefer punctuated poems but it's not essential.

d) Please send  a short biography (up to 200 characters (to fit Twitter) - not 200 words!) and a photo (less than 500kb) and your poems in Microsoft Word by attachment. If you do not wish to send a photo as you don't want to be featured on the website or social media, please mention this. Please include social media handles.

Special e-mail for this edition is Please don't use our usual e-mail.

e) If you have a simultaneous submission to another publication, please ensure you make this clear in your e-mail as this can cause major inconvenience if you suddenly withdraw your work. Upon acceptance with us please withdraw your work from elsewhere.

f) Reminders! Please only send during the submission window.

g) Reminder, huge sized photos (eg. over 1 Mb) or long bios. Please add your Twitter handle and any other social media ID as we will showcase your work if it is accepted. 

h) It is the editorial policy to offer feedback on essential or potential improvements to poems that are on the edge of acceptance. The editorial team will confer on borderline 'acceptance' poems. If you submit, this is what can be expected and it is intended to be constructive and increase acceptance rates. If you really don't like this, Black Bough may not be the right publication for you. Please indicate if you would like accept or reject rather than editorial suggestion.

i) Plagiarism, rudeness and offensive behaviour or hate speech will not be tolerated. We are trying to help poets and showcase excellent work. No sexually -explicit poetry.

j) If you are accepted for this edition, you are also consenting for your poem to be used in a print version and for your work to be publicised on social media. We are unable to fund contributor's copies at the moment as we are entirely self-funded and do not charge submissions fees, have patrons, grant funding, run crowdfunders, membership fees. etc. Contributor copies will be priced at an affordable level (approx. £7.50)

We look forward to receiving your work. We're likely to have in excess of 300-500 poems to read and respond to so 30th June is a realistic date to expect an answer. 

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