The Isis Magazine Essay Competition

by isised | April 25, 2021



The Isis is running an essay competition this term, judged by Balliol College, Oxford tutors Seamus Perry and Adam Smyth. We welcome students from universities and secondary schools around the world to participate. Winners of each category will receive a free edition of the upcoming issue, Isis merchandise, and feedback from the judges.


Please write a personal essay of no more than 1500 words in response to the extract below.


Now I am quietly waiting for

the catastrophe of my personality

to seem beautiful again,

and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and

brown and white in trees,

snows and skies of laughter

always diminishing, less funny

not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of

the year, what does he think of

that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,

perhaps I am myself again.

(‘Mayakovsky’, Frank O’Hara)

*Note: We are looking for personal reflections elicited from the extract, not literary analysis. You may browse our non-fiction pieces on to get a sense of our magazine’s style.


  • There are two Categories: the University Category and the Schools Category
  • Winners will be chosen from each category
  • Entries cost ¬£5.00 per submission – all proceeds will help to ensure the organisation‚Äôs competitions and other activities (print and online publishing, public events) – please treat this entry fee as a donation to help us platform emerging writers and artists.
  • Following the purchase of a ticket, you will be directed to a Google form in which you can submit your entry for the competition.
  • Entries must confirm their entry payment with their FIXR Ticket (link below) reference in this form.
  • Multiple Entries will be counted as individual entries and therefore must be paid accordingly.
  • Entrants may enter more than one category and there is no limit on the number of entries.
  • Any student at any university or secondary school may enter, but you must be a student to enter. The Isis Team Members may also enter under a pseudonym for anonymity.
  • All entries must be previously unpublished.

Submit here:
(You can access the submission form once you have paid)

If you have any further questions or would like to donate, please email [email protected]!




To make this competition accessible to all, please fill in this form if you are unable to donate: