Tower Poetry was founded in 2000 when a generous bequest was made by the late Christopher Tower to stimulate an enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education, and to challenge people to write their own poetry.

Tower Poetry runs a prestigious annual competition for 16- to 18-year-olds in the UK on a set theme, and biennial residential summer schools for 18- to 23-year-olds. The poetry competition is the most generous of its kind for young people in the UK, and is free to enter. Tower Poetry also covers the tuition and accommodation costs for the summer schools.

About Christopher Tower

Christopher Thomas Tower (1915-1998) read History at Christ Church from 1934 to 1937. During his schooling he won a number of prizes for poetry and English literature, as well as taking a keen interest in archaeology. These passions took him to the Middle East where he studied Arabic and Persian and held a number of official diplomatic appointments. He later settled in Athens to devote more time to his writing in retirement, writing nine illustrated books of poetry in his lifetime – mainly of Persian and Arab legends.

Christopher Tower left a legacy of £5m to be used by Christ Church to fund two teaching posts: a Poetry Studentship and a Tutorial Fellowship, together with an associated University Lecturership and a Junior Research Fellowship in Greek mythology. His donation also funds the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize. 

Painting of Christopher Tower

The Christopher Tower Student

Peter McDonald

The current Christopher Tower Student is poet and academic Professor Peter McDonald, who became the first holder of the Christopher Tower Studentship in 1999. He has been writing poetry since his teens, and was himself a winner of national young poet competitions. As an undergraduate he published poems in the national literary press and won Oxford’s Newdigate Prize for poetry in 1983. He currently holds a Tutorship in Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford and a lectureship in the English Faculty of the University of Oxford.

The Tower Poetry Administrator

Megan Chester

The Tower Poetry Administrator, Megan Chester, manages the annual Tower Poetry competition and biennial Summer School under the direction of the Tower Poetry Student.

Tel: +44 7849625906 


Days of work: Monday and Thursday, 10am to 1pm