London Literature Festival 2019

RWD15_I Believe in Unicorns_a show based on Michael Morpurgo tale

London Literature Festival hosted by the South Bank Centre invites us to consider whether we’re sitting comfortably (or, conversely, too comfortably), with an unfurling array of fairy tales “for our times with today’s leading writers, thinkers and cultural observers.”

Returning for its 13th year, the festival takes place from 17th-27th October 2019.

The festival opens with opens with Poetry International, founded by Ted Hughes in 1967, which this year embraces the theme of disruption.

Lemn Sissay © Hamish Brown, Elizabeth Day © Jenny Smith, Sharlene Teo © fatiimaa, Brett Anderson © Brett Anderson

Look forward to eerie, magical, unsettling and though-provoking moments from Lemn Sissay, Daisy Johnson, Bernadine Evaristo, Jay Bernard, Elizabeth Day, Armistead Maupin, Brett Anderson, Heather Morris, Louise Doughty, Neil Gaiman, Jung Chang and many more.

Jung Chang author

Author Jung Chang

They say: “The theme Once Upon Our Times runs throughout the festival, with a series of events looking at contemporary retellings of folk and fairy tales, spanning from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to The Handmaid’s Tale and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.  The series explores and celebrates the global and democratic nature of this storytelling tradition through live readings, new commissions and discussions. The latter strand includes Charlene Teo, Daisy Johnson and Rebecca Tamas on the contemporary relevance an democratic value of fairytales, and nordic authors Linda Bostrom Knausgard, Vigdis Hjorth and Mazen Maarouf discussing the thin line between fiction and reality.”

On Saturday 26th October, London Literature Festival presents its inaugural Writers’ Day. Established in partnership with Creative Future, the day welcomes aspiring writers to attend free short talks from authors, editors and publishers, as well as special 1:1 Agent Advice sessions and a day-long writers’ exhibition space. The festival also hosts more masterclasses and workshops than ever before.

alchemymay23. Credit Belinda Lawley

Credit Belinda Lawley

There are also an abundance of family-friendly literary treats, including free events, exploring fairy tales and folklore from a variety of cultures, and Young Adult Literature Day, featuring authors of YA fiction, including Louise O’Neill, Dean Atta, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Muhammad Khan and Laura Bates.

WTC_Baba Yaga_Christine Johnston_Credit_Sia Duff

Christine Johnston stars in Baba Yaga. Credit Sia Duff

Look out for a special one-off dramatic live reading of contemporary retellings of tales from around the world, including works by Salman Rushdie, Marlon James and Angela Carter and newly commissioned works by Daisy Johnson and Charlene Teo,performed by actors and musicians, plus a brand new take on an old Russian folktale Baba Yaga by Windmill Theatre Company and a show based on Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns (pictured top).

In short, have your imagination thoroughly stirred.

For the full programme, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

All images supplied by the South Bank Centre.

Mslexia’s 2019 Fiction Awards

Mum's eye view cr Judy DarleyThis year, Mslexia Fiction Awards include their Short StoryAdult Novel and Flash Fiction competitions. The deadline for each is 30th September 2019.

Entry fees are £10 per short story, £25 per novel extract and £5 per flash fiction entry.

The winner of the Short Story competition will receive £3,000, plus the optional extras of a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, and mentoring by an editor at Virago Press.

Three other finalists will each receive £100. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

Shortlisted entries will be judged by award-winning short story author, novelist and performer Irenosen Okojie.

The winner of the Adult Novel competition will receive £5,000 and the option of representatlon by agent Charlotte Robertson. Judges are novelist Louise Doughty, Nicola Holloway from BBC Radio 4, and Literary agent Charlotte Robertson.

The winner and four finalists will receive manuscript feedback and introductions to agents and editors at a special event held in London.

The first prize in the Flash Fiction competition is £500. The winner will be picked by Katy Fish.

Three other flash fiction finalists will each receive £50. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia.

Find full details at www.mslexia.co.uk. Good luck!

A new inclusive nature-writing prize

Tiny snail cr Judy DarleyThe Nan Shepherd Prize is accepting submissions until 10th September 2019. This new competition launched by Canongate aims to find the next major voice in nature writing. It intends not only to celebrate nature writing but provide an inclusive platform for new and emerging nature writers from underrepresented backgrounds.

The competition has been established in memory of Nan Shepherd. The organisers say:  “While her classic of nature writing The Living Mountain took three decades to first find a publisher, today the book is recognised as a masterpiece and Nan is inspiring a new generation of writers. We felt that a prize named after her was a fitting way to honour her legacy.”

The winner of The Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing will receive a book deal with Canongate, including editorial mentoring and an advance of £10,000, as well as the option of literary representation with Jenny Brown Associates.

During the submissions period, the Canongate team will publish resources intended to demystify the publishing process.

The competition judges are Amy Liptrot, Chitra Ramaswamy, Jenny Brown and Nick Barley.

Applications are open to previously unpublished writers based in the UK and Ireland, who consider themselves underrepresented in nature writing, whether through ethnicity, disability, class, sex, gender, sexuality or any other circumstances. This means that entrants must not have published full-length books of fiction or non-fiction (including children’s books) with a trade publisher. Full details of eligibility and how to submit can be found here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Plymouth seeks young writing talent

Plymouth. Photo by Frederica Diamanta on Unsplash

Plymouth City Council, in partnership with the South West literature development agency Literature Works, has launched a search to find aspiring new writers in the city aged between 14 and 19 to apply for the Mayflower 400 Plymouth Young City Laureate post.

The successful applicant will be asked to create work to celebrate special events or occasions in the city as well as being expected to perform at events in libraries, schools and at festivals.

The current holder of the Mayflower 400 Plymouth Young City Laureate title, Olivia Templeton, says: “My time as the Laureate has been a better opportunity than I could have hoped for. Meeting new people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and celebrating such important events have made the past year so incredible.”

There is a cash prize of £100 as well as city-wide recognition for the post-holder’s writing and performance skills, making this an ideal stepping stone for any young person hoping to launch a successful career in the arts.

To enter you must:

  • To be aged between 14 and 19
  • Live, work or go to school or college in Plymouth
  • Submit two samples of your creative writing. One should be inspired by the theme of ‘Plymouth’, and the other should be inspired by the theme of ‘finding your identity’
  • At least one of your two samples should be in the form of poetry
  • Prose should be no more than 2000 words, poetry no more than one page of A4.

The deadline for entries is Friday 27th September 2019.

The winning entry will be chosen by a panel of judges from Plymouth City Council, Plymouth University, Literature Works and a well-known (as yet unnamed) author.

The Young City Laureate will be announced at a celebration event in October.

Find full details of how to enter here.

Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes

The-Royal-Exchange-Manchester-cr-Judy-DarleyManchester Writing Competition 2019 is open to online and postal entries, with categories for Poetry and Fiction. Both prizes offer a £10,000 first prize.

The competitions were instigated in 2008 by by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in 2008. The aim was designed to attract the best new writing from around the world, and to establish Manchester as a literary focal point.

The deadline for all entries is 5pm GMT on 20th September 2019.

The chair of poetry judges is Adam O’Riordan. The entry fee is £17.50.

Find full details and enter on the Poetry Prize page.

The chair of fiction judges is Nicholas Royle. The entry fee is £17.50.

Find full details and enter on the Fiction Prize page.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

MShed cr Judy DarleyThe Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding short fiction and poetry from around the world. The deadline for entering the award is 31st August 2019, making this the perfect time to get polishing your poetry and prose.

Prizes include publication within Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology and £1,000 for each category winner. Winner of the short fiction competition will receive a consultation with literary agency Redhammer Management, while the Poetry winner will have a Full Membership to The Poetry Society. To whet your appetite for creating more literary works, the winners will also receive, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books.

There’s no theme – just submit your finest story or poem offering your own unique window on a slice of the world!

Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words each and poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines each. Both short fiction and poetry entries should be written in English.

Remarkably, entry fees have actually dropped for 2019.

Short Fiction: NOW £13.50 WAS £18  |  Poetry: NOW £9 WAS £12

Works published elsewhere are accepted.

For full details, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creative-writing-award

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Show your art at the RWA Annual Open Exhibition

RWA Open Exhibition 163

RWA © Alice Hendy

The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing one of my favourite cultural events – the RWA Annual Open Exhibition.

The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is inviting submissions for its 167th Annual Open Exhibition until 20th August 2019.

Submissions are open until 5pm on Tuesday 20th August.

The 167th Annual Open Exhibition will be open to the public from 29th September until 1st December 2019. Artists of all ages and experience are invited to submit.

They say: “A selection panel assesses every entry and last year 634 works by 413 artists made it into the final exhibition. All work is for sale, and the exhibition attracts art-lovers and art-buyers from far and wide. Submissions are welcome from unknown, emerging and established artists, including RWA Academicians.”

This year’s Selection Panel includes art historian and Artistic Director of the RA Tim Marlow, painter and performance artist Adelaide Damoah, renowned art collector John Talbot and award winning art writer and critic for The Telegraph Mark Hudson.

Applicants must enter online, submitting images using the Online Exhibition Submission System (OESS). The exhibition is a highlight of the cultural year.

Find full details here of how to apply here. Good luck!

Read my review of the RWA Open Exhibition 166.

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Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh book festival gardensThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 10th-26th August, bringing writers and thinkers from across the globe to an avid lit-loving audience.

They say: “Take a journey of discovery through fact, fiction, poetry, personal stories and world affairs.”

The festival attracts 900 authors from over 60 countries, including novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comic creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners and more.  Continue reading

Ledbury Poetry Festival 2019

Ledbury cr John EagerSome British towns seem better suited to literary festivals than others, and Ledbury in Herefordshire is ideal – with reams of streets and architecture that the word ‘picturesque’ could have been invented for. From 5th-14th July 2019, Ledbury welcomes back its annual Poetry Festival, which promises ten days of written and spoken riches.

This year’s highlights include poetry and mediation day retreats with Maitreyabandhu, Fiona Sampson and Matthew Sweeney, plus workshops led by Sara-Jane Arbury, and salons featuring poet Yvonne Green, with short reading slots available.

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competition. Entries will be judged by Daljit Nagra. The closing date is Thursday 18th July 2019. Top prize is £1,000 plus the chance to attend a writing course at Ty Newydd (pictured below), the National Writers’ Centre for Wales.

The winner will be invited to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival 2020.

Ty Newydd

The image at the very top of this post was supplied by John Eager of www.visitledbury.info. The Ty Newydd image was supplied by the Ledbury Poetry Festival team. Many thanks!

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Heading to the Flash Fiction Festival?

Bee sheltering from April shower. Photo by Judy DarleyThis Friday marks the start of one of the hottest UK-based events for fans of intense, bite-sized fiction – the Flash Fiction Festival.

Taking place at Trinity College, Bristol, it promises a high calibre assortment of workshops, readings and talks from the field’s finest literary luminaries.

Stellar attendees are too many to mention, but include Vanessa Gebbie, Kathy Fish, David Gaffney, Meg Pokrass, Jude Higgins, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, K M Elkes, Santino Prinzi, Carrie Etter, David Swann, Michelle Elvy, Nod Ghosh and Nuala O’Connor.

I’ll be attending as a volunteer, which means I get to relish as much of the festival as I can fit around bar shifts and so on. I’ll also be reading my flash Skip Diving at the Friday night launch of the National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2019, And We Pass Through.

Hope to see you there.