Enter Winchester Poetry Prize 2024

Sunshine snail cr Judy Darley

Winchester Poetry Prize 2024 invites you to submit poetry “with a good emotional thwack.” The closing date for entries is 31st July 2024.

Entries cost £6 for first poem, £5 for subsequent poems.

A ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme introduced by 2020’s competition winner, Lewis Buxton, allows you to pay for an extra entry that will fund a submission by a poet who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enter the competition.

The judge is Clare Shaw, whose fourth poetry collection Towards a General Theory of Love (Bloodaxe, 2022) won a Northern Writers Award and was a Poetry Society Book of the Year. Clare teaches creative writing at the University of Huddersfield, and is a regular tutor at Wordsworth Grasmere, the Royal Literary Fund and the Arvon Foundation.

“Whatever the subject, fill your poetry with curiosity, and an excitement for language. Tone, language, form – all of these tools bring the poem to life in the imagination, intellect and heart of the reader. Send me your living, breathing poems!”

Winchester Poetry Prizes

  • 1st prize = £1000

  • 2nd prize = £500

  • 3rd prize = £250

Winning and commended poems will be published in a competition anthology.

The Kathryn Bevis Prize will be awarded for the best poem written by a Hampshire-based poet. 

The winner of the Kathryn Bevis Prize will receive £150, will read their poem as part of a special prize-giving event at Winchester Poetry Day 2024, and will feature in a printed anthology made available on the day. In addition, The Writing School will offer the winner of the Kathryn Bevis Prize three one-day poetry workshops with leading poets, as well as a five-day Digital Poetry Retreat with Costa Prize Winner Jonathan Edwards.

This prize is designed to offer a year of development opportunities and coaching to help the winner of the Kathryn Bevis Prize to develop their poetic career, in honour of Kathryn who has supported many new writers to develop their own talent.

Flamingo, Kathryn’s debut pamphlet published by Seren, was named as one of the Poetry Society’s ‘Books of the Year’ for 2022 and shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet, 2022. ‘My body tells me that she’s filing for divorce’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – Written – 2023.

Her debut collection The Butterfly House was published by Seven in March 2024.

Find full details of the competition here: www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org/prize.

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

Enter the Searchlight Writing for Children Awards

Brandon Hill, Bristol, child in tree by Judy Darley

The Searchlight Writing for Children Awards is open for entries.

The closing date for entry is 1st September 2024.

There are two competition categories: Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults and Best Picture Book Text.

Winners will be chosen by Rachel Petty of The Blair Partnership and Lorna Hemingway of Bell Lomax Moreton.


First prize is a one-to-one call with the agent judge plus £500 for the author of the winning picture book and £1000 for the author of the winning novel opening.

Second prize is manuscript feedback from celebrated author and creative writing tutor Steve Voake or expert picture book editor Natascha Biebow of Blue Elephant Storyshaping.

The top 10 stories in both categories will feature in an agent/publisher pitch book and be sent to literary agents/publishers who have requested it.

The entry fee is £12 for the picture book category and £16 for the novel opening category.

For full details, visit www.searchlightawards.co.uk.

The Bridport Prize Memoir competition

Ammonite on Sidmouth Beach_Photo by Judy DarleyThe Bridport Prize for Memoirs is open.

The deadline is 30 September 2024.

All entries are judged anonymously. To avoid disqualification, make sure you do not include your name, address, phone number, email, website, twitter handle etc on the document or in the file name.

Memoir extracts must be between 5,000 and 8,000 words.

If you’re longlisted they’ll ask for a total of 15,000 words, including your original word count. Shortlisted writers will be asked to submit a total 30,000 words, again including your original entry and longlisted word count.

The fee is £24.

Kit de Waal is judging memoir entries. Kit began writing in her fifties. She won the Bridport Prize twice for flash fiction. Her recent memoir ‘Without Warning & Only Sometimes’ tells of ‘hunger, hellfire and happiness.’ Her first novel, MY NAME IS LEON was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and adapted into a BBC drama.

Kit says: “Write what you know is great advice, what better than by writing a memoir. Don’t think you’re too ordinary – there are no ordinary lives – and don’t think you’re too inexperienced. Write from the heart and tell me who you are. I can’t wait to read.”

Top prize is £1,500. 

The winner will receive a year’s mentoring from The Literary Consultancy through their Chapter & Verse scheme. You’ll also have the chance to consult with A.M. Heath, a leading London literary agency, plus get valuable advice from an editor at John Murray, part of Hachette publishers. You have the option of a discussion with the University of Exeter’s Creative Writing Department. In addition, the opening chapter/s of your memoir will be published on the Bridport Prize website. You’ll also be championed as part of the Bridport Prize family.

Don’t forget to check out the Writers’ Room on the Bridport Prize website for resources and inspiration.

Find full details of the Bridport Prize Memoir Award.

Find full details and enter your creative works at www.bridportprize.org.uk.

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

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh Book Festival. Shows people in a park enjoying the literary festivalThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 10th-25th August 2024, celebrating the joy of words with more than 550 world-class luminaries from 50 countries contributing to over 500 events.

This year’s theme is Future Tense as the Festival relocates Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) under the Directorship of Jenny Niven. “FUTURE TENSE comprises six sub-themes, each exploring an aspect of how we can, or should, change our individual and collective futures.”

Located just off The Meadows in the leafy heart of the city, the Festival’s new home is a stone’s throw from key Fringe venues at George Square and the home of the Edinburgh International Festival at the Hub.

Key themes include:

A Toast to the Future, with an opening gala event of readings presenting “a kaleidoscope of perspectives and provocations, from the hopeful to the momentous, as we ask a diverse line-up of stellar writers to explore the idea of The Future in 7 minutes each. Participants include experimental author Martin MacInnes; form-bending writer Irenosen Okojie; speculative novelist Naomi Alderman; and award-winning poet and performer Joelle Taylor.

Future Library, a project described as a meditation on time, and the imagination, which has commissioned renowned authors, including Margaret Atwood, to create works which are placed inside the Future Library in Oslo, remaining unread until 2114. Literary superstar Margaret Atwood contributed the first book to this visionary project, Atwood will join the event via livestream to explore how we can engender a better future. There will also be hands-on workshops, and the announcement of the 2025 Future Library contributor.

Generations, which offers perspectives on how we can become ‘good ancestors’, from Roman Krznaric and Ella Saltmarshe, and on how our political systems can be adapted to consider more deeply our impact on the generations after us (led by Wales’ first Commissioner for Future Generations, Sophie Howe). There will also be a series of intergenerational conversations between writers who share common ground, including  poets Roger McGough and Hollie McNish.

Discover all the themes in detail here.

Our programme Future Tense speaks to the complexity of the moment we’re in, but hopefully also brings some optimism – the world is full of brilliant, insightful people working in so many imaginative ways. We’re excited to showcase some of that incredible thinking and writing – and the ways people are working together to solve problems and keep learning,” says Jenny Niven, Director at Edinburgh International Book Festival. “It’s been an honour to engage with authors, publicists, poets, performers, artists and audience members since I took on this role, and all of these conversations have informed what you will find on site this summer.”

Find full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme.

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





Enter the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction Open prize

Button on Kilve Beach cr Judy DarleyGot a fresh micro or flash fiction you’re ready to zing out into the world? Enter the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction Open Prize.

The deadline is 14 July 2024.

Guest judge Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of the new historical novel The American Daughters, published in February 2024 by One World Random House. He is the recipient of the 2023 Louisiana Writer Award and the Black Rock Senegal Residency. He also wrote The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, which was published by One World Random House in August 2021. The collection was the 2023 One Book One New Orleans Selection, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and longlisted for the Story Prize. The Ones was also selected to represent Louisiana at the 2023 National Book Festival. His first book, We Cast a Shadow, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the PEN America Open Book Prize. It was longlisted for the 2021 Dublin Literary Award, the Center for Fiction Prize, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. The novel was also a New York Times Editors’ Choice.

A New Orleans native, Ruffin is a professor of creative writing at Louisiana State University, and the 2020-2021 John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.

The first place winner will receive $2,000 and publication, while 15 finalists will receive $100 and publication. All entries will be considered for general publication.

They say; “We want your most creative and resonant flash and microfictions. No themes. Send us those pieces that hum with life, velocity, and intimacy. Write that story you’ve been thinking about for months, the one that needs to exist, the one that caught you in its glare of white-hot inspiration. Please don’t forget that we love stories that involve actions, reactions, and reckonings. Write and submit the stories only you can tell!”

Entries must be under 1,000 words in length.

You need to pay a $20 reading fee per entry of up to two tales. Writers from historically marginalized groups may submit for free until a cap of 25 submissions is reached in this category.

Find full details and enter here: https://fracturedlit.com/flash-fiction-open/

Good luck!

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

Enter The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

Terra Nostra Tropical plants cr Judy DarleyWasafari magazine invites submissions of Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing for The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

The prize closes on 1st July 2024 at 5pm BST.

The prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. Winners of each category receive a £1,000 cash prize and will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on the Wasafiri website. All 15 shortlistees and winners will be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression

The fee is £12 for a single entry and £16 for a double entry. No entry may be more than 3,000 words long.  

Subsidised entry is available for those who would otherwise be unable to enter the prize.  

Shortlisted entrants will be notified in September

Find full details of how to enter at www.wasafiri.org.

About the judges

The chair of judges is Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure around the world. Her career has spanned work as a publisher, editor, interviewer, reviewer, scriptwriter, lyricist, radio and TV presenter, activist and mentor. She has judged prestigious literary prizes, including the Booker Prize, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, and the Africa Centre in London. She has been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. In 2023, she was appointed President of English PEN.

Isabel Waidner (fiction judge) is a novelist based in London. Their work includes Corey Fah Does Social Mobility (2023), Sterling Karat Gold (2021), We Are Made of Diamond Stuff (2019), and Gaudy Bauble (2017). They are the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2021 and were shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2019, the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2022 and the Republic of Consciousness Prize in 2018, 2020 and 2022. They are a co-founder of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and they are an academic in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London.

Cristina Rivera Garza (life writing judge) is an author, translator and critic. Recent publications include Liliana’s Invincible Summer(Hogarth, 2023), which was long listed for the National Book Award in nonfiction. The Taiga Syndrome, trans. by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, (Dorothy Project, 2018), won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award. Grieving. Dispatches from a Wounded Country, trans. by Sarah Booker (The Feminist Press, 2020), was a finalist National Book Critics Circle Award In Criticism. She is M.D. Anderson Distinguished Professor and founder of the PhD Program in Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Houston, Department of Hispanic Studies, and a MacArthur Fellow 2020-2025.

Meena Kandasamy (poetry judge) is a poet, writer, translator, anti-caste activist and academic based in India. Her extensive corpus includes two poetry collections, Touch (2006) and Ms Militancy (2010), as well as three novels, The Gypsy Goddess (2014), When I Hit You (2017) and Exquisite Cadavers (2019). In 2022, she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) and was also awarded the PEN Hermann Kesten Prize for her writing and work as a ‘fearless fighter for democracy, human rights and the free word.’ Her latest published work is Tomorrow Someone Will Arrest You, a collection of political poetry written over the last decade.

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




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 inviting submissions for its 171st Annual Open Exhibition. The exhibition will be on from 14th September 2024 until 5th January 2025.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday 7th July 2024.

Artists of all ages and experience are invited to submit.

A selection panel assesses every entry. In 2023, 665 works by 455 artists made it into the final exhibition. The RWA Annual Open is the largest open in the South West, with all artworks for sale and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a wide variety of creative works spread over the beautiful galleries at the top of Bristol’s Park Street.

Applicants must enter online, submitting images using the Online Exhibition Submission System (OESS).

Submission fees are charged per item:

  • £22 per item for General Public (£18.33+VAT)
  • £16.50 per item for Students (£13.75+VAT)
  • £16.50 per item for Friends of the RWA (£13.75+VAT)
  • £11.00 per item for RWA Artist Network members (£9.17+VAT)
  • RWA Academicians (who pay an annual subscription fee) receive free submission.

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

Read my review of the RWA Open Exhibition 166.



Discover the secrets of award-winning short story writers

I’m excited to be chairing a panel at Clevedon Literary Festival on Saturday 8th June. From 1.30pm until 2.30pm, I will be interviewing writers Keza O’Neill, whose story Lucky Strike placed 3rd in the 2023 Bristol Prize short story competition, and Julie Davies, winner of the inaugural Clevedon Literary Festival short story competition in 2023.

Book your tickets here for just £5 each. Bargain!

Taking place at St John’s Hall, Clevedon BS21 7XJ, the session will cover creative processes, inspiration, and how you know when you have a potentially award-winning story ready to send out into the world. We’ll talk about the impact of a prize win on your sense of yourself as a writer, as well as what these talented writers are working on now.

Find details of the whole summer festival (5th-9th June) here. There are masses of excellent talks and inspiring events taking place throughout the beautiful North Somerset coastal town across these days, as well as pockets of literary goodness throughout the year!

Your panellists

Keza O'NeillKeza O’Neill’s story ‘Lucky Strike’, a tale of thwarted rage and a commentary on the gentrification of coastal towns, recently won the Sansom Award and was awarded third place in the Bristol Short Story Prize with her story Lucky Strike. Keza has been longlisted for the Bath Short Story Award 2023, the CWA Debut Dagger 2021 and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2019. Keza completed a Masters in Creative Writing in 2023 via The Open University for which she was awarded a Distinction.

Keza is a qualified Coach-Mentor and spent 12 years working in Diversity & Inclusion and Learning & Development in a global Tech company, supporting clients across 40+ countries and multiple timezones. She’s interested in the relationships between people and places and the significance of ‘home’ in shaping identity.

Julie DaviesJulie Davies won the inaugural Clevedon Literary Festival short story competition with her story Remembrance in 2023. Her story Just Dessert was the second place winner in the Winchester Festival I Am Writing Flash Fiction Competition 2022.

Julie writes flash fiction, short stories, and poetry, and is currently working on her first novel. One of her favourites of the stories she’s written is about a Martian craterworm.

When she’s not writing, Julie enjoys time with her grandchildren, especially reading with them and encouraging their love of books. She also enjoys tending her garden, walking, visiting RSPB reserves, travelling, sewing, discussing books in her reading group, and a bit of drawing and mindful doodling whenever her mind needs a calming space.

Judy Darley photo credit Jo Mary Bulter Photography_cropJudy Darley is an award-winning writer, editor and creative workshop leader who relocated to Clevedon in December 2023. She is the author of short fiction collections The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain (Reflex Press), Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me To The Bees (Tangent Books).

She previously judged competitions for National Flash Fiction Day UK and Oxford Flash Fiction Prize, among others, and is one of the judges for Clevedon Literary Festival Open Short Story Competition 2024. She won first prize in the New Writers UK Winter Story competition 2024 with her micro-tale A Bright Day.

In her other life, Judy is a Community Manager and helps to run conferences about financial wellbeing.

Wells Festival of Literature competitions

City of Wells cr Judy Darley

Wells Festival of Literature takes place from 18th-26th October 2024, but before that they hold their annual writing competitions, with entries accepted until 30th June.

The categories are open poetry, short stories, poetry and children’s books, as well as poetry by anyone aged 16-22 inclusive.

The Open Poetry Competition

The fee for each separate entry is £6. Each poem must be under 36 lines long, and may be on any subject.

First Prize is £1,000. Second prizes is £500. Third prize is £250. There’s also a £100 prize for a local poet.

The judge is Dr Anthony Joseph FRSL, award-winning Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician, is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Kings College, London.   His 2022 collection Sonnets for Albert  featured at the 2023 Festival and won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry 2022 and the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Poetry.

The Short Story Competition

The fee for each separate entry is £6. Stories should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length. They can be on any subject.

First Prize is £750. Second prize is £300. Third prize is £200. There’s a £100 prize for a local writer.

The judge is Susmita Bhattacharya, whose debut novel The Normal State of Mind was long-listed at the Mumbai Film Festival 2018. Her short story collection Table Manners won the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection and was a finalist for the Hall & Woodhouse DLF Prize in 2019. The collection has also been serialised on BBC Radio and her latest commissioned Radio 4 short story The Gift is available on BBC Sounds.

Book for Children Competition

The fee for each separate entry is £6. The competition will judge writing for children, age 7 and up. This includes writing for young adults

You’ll need to submit either the first two chapters or first twenty pages, whichever is the shortest, together with the synopsis of up to two pages.

First Prize is £750. Second prize is £300. Third prize is £200. There’s a £100 prize for a local writer.

The judge is Alex Campbell, who currently writes middle-grade novels under the name Alex Cotter. Her recent novel, The House on the Edge, was selected as a WH Smith Travel Book of the Month and also for the ‘Read for Empathy’ collection. She has also written YA novels and was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016.

The Young Poets Competition

The fee for each separate entry is £3. Each poem must be under 36 lines long, and may be on any subject.

First Prize is £150. Second prizes is £75. Third prize is £50. All three prize-winners also get a year’s subscription to the Poetry Society.

The judge is Clare Shaw. Claire has four poetry collections with Bloodaxe. The latest collection – Towards a General Theory of Love(2022) – is a poetic exploration of love and love’s absence: it won a Northern Writers’ Award and was a Poetry Society Book of the Year.

The closing date for all entries is 30th June 2024. Prizes for all four competitions will be presented on Monday 30th October 2023 during the Festival.

Find the full rules and details of how to enter.

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



Book your Flash Fiction Festival tickets now!

Trinity College BristolFlash Fiction Festival 2024 spreads out over three intensely creative days in July. The in-person version of the festival unfurls from 12th-14th July, welcoming fabulous flashers including Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter and Michael Loveday.

The weekend takes place at Trinity College, Bristol, and is packed with inspiring workshops and panels tackling every aspect of flash fiction, from ‘Good Things Come in Small Packages: Creating Flash from Proverbs’ with Alison Powell, to ‘Writing A Prize Winning Story’, a panel chaired by Audrey Niven with Kathryn Aldridge- Morris, Sara Hills and Marie Gethins. Don’t miss ‘The Biggest Word Cricket in the Whole Wide World’ with Vanessa Gebbie.

These are just a few of the wonderful offerings tempting you to sign up. See the website to find out what else is happening.

The festival team, headed by director Jude Higgins, make this a weekend of imaginative adventures, attracting some of the loveliest writers ever to dip a toe into the art of flash writing. I’m not able to attend this year, but I’m sure it will be brilliant. Join the throng before all spaces fill up!

Book your flash festival admission here.

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