Le voice of ye Circle, in ye electronique forme.

Poetry 2021 and Upcoming Workshop

Only a month left to enter our International Poetry Comp 2021, judged by notable artist Ali Harwood. Head over to the Competitions pages to find out more.

Also, as part of Liverpool Year of Writing, we are doing an online Creative Workshop on 15/05/21. All are welcome, more details will be available closer to the time.

Finally in this update, a reminder that we are still meeting every Thursday evening via Zoom. Let us know if you would like to be added to the list to get the weekly link.

It is tough to say when we will be meeting in person again, but like many groups, we thrive on the feedback from our members. It has been good to see so many writers taking to the virtual world, so we may hybridise our meetings when we are allowed to do so later in the year.

Stay safe all 🙂

SWC Annual International Poetry Competition 2021

Online entries CLICK HERE

First Prize: £150, Second Prize: £75, Third Prize: £25

Catherine Fenerty Humour Prize: £25

Final date for entries – 30th April 2021

Chief Judge : Ali Harwood 

Ali Harwood is an artist, poet, writer and teacher. Born in Wiltshire, Ali grew up around Bristol and has lived in Liverpool since 2007. As a poet, Ali’s work is published widely, including Made of Iron (2019), The Quality of Mersey (2018) and the Live From Worktown Anthology (2014). He is organiser and compere of the Liver Bards monthly poetry event and has performed poetry at many locations, including the Museum of Liverpool, the Mersey River Festival and the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth. His poetic picture book ‘Liverpool Liver Birds’ (2019) remains popular. He is currently Artist in Residence at Love Wavertree – where he has created a large outdoor mural – and has recently enjoyed illustration and painting commissions from the British Antarctic Survey and Cammell Laird respectively. As a former deputy headteacher, he continues to enjoy tutoring young people aged 5-16 and delivers educational and creative assemblies and workshops in schools.       

  RULES: Please read carefully

  • Entry fee is £3 per poem or four poems for £10 (online rate varies due to handling fees). For postal entries Cheques/Postal orders should be in sterling and payable to: SOUTHPORT WRITERS’ CIRCLE.
  • A maximum of 40 lines per poem is allowed.
  • Poems should bear no identification of the poet.
  • Humour entries should be marked with an ‘H’ in the top left of the page. Humour entrants are not disqualified from also winning main prizes.
  • Please enclose a separate sheet with your full contact details (address, email, phone number) and list of titles submitted. For online entries, this contact information should be put in the body of the email.
  • All entries must be typed (on A4 paper for postal entries) in English (dialects allowable), and must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant.
  • If your work is published in any form after entry, please let us know. In some cases this may disqualify your entry and entitle you to a refund of your entry fee.
  • For online entries, please include PayPal ref. number in body of email OR put the poem(s) names in the comments (information) box when paying. Also please use basic formatting in any of .doc, .docx, rich text (.rtf) or .odf file types when attaching your file to the email. Any .pdfs, sidebars, headers, footers or unusual layouts may result in your electronic entry being rejected without notice. Please, do not paste your entries in the body of the email.
  • The closing date for entries will be 30th April 2021. Winners will be informed in June, general availability of results thereafter. There may be a delay publishing results and/or winning poems depending on circumstances and permissions.
  • Any correspondence deemed to be an attempt to circumvent the judging process may cause your entry to be withdrawn.
  • Please keep a copy of your poem(s) as manuscripts cannot be returned.
  • The organiser’s/adjudicator’s decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding receipt of individual entries or payments. Please do not contact us regarding bounced payments unless you are certain Paypal is not functional.
  • If you would like a copy of adjudicator’s report (if and when available), please include an SAE for paper entries, or for online entries please state you wish to have the results in the body of the email.
  • No application form is required.

Envelopes should be sent to:-

SWC Poetry Competition

5 Carrwood Park




  • Please DO NOT send entries by signed-for delivery or send any other material such as return/receipt postcards as these will be disregarded/destroyed.

Online entries CLICK HERE

Southport Writers’ Circle International Annual Short Story Competition 2020

Stories Available to Read Here

Organiser’s Report

2020 was a difficult year and it was brilliant to see so many ambitious authors throw themselves into their work and to submit many excellent pieces with themes ranging from the mundane (buying a teddy), to the epic (in the trenches during wartime) to outrightly bizarre (what if you lived on the wrong side of a mirror?).

There were a handful that managed to fall afoul of the rules of the competition, the most common infraction being putting their name on every page, closely followed by not putting a title on it and, amazingly, in some cases simply sending in a story without any author details or an entry fee! The majority did it right though and you all gave us plenty to chew over.

Big thanks go out to this year’s shortlisting team, who had a tough job all round. In some cases, some stories did not make the final cut because of little things, like unoriginal titles or unneeded detail. It was often a hairsbreadth separating the ones that made it through, so anyone who did not make it should not be discouraged from putting their work out there in the future.

Entries came from all over the world, with the usual concentration in North West UK, but also Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and various locales in America making an appearance.

In the end though, there can only be a few winners and our chief judge this year, Professor Emerita of Short Fiction, Ailsa Cox, has been extremely valued in her final say.

Judge’s Report – Professor Ailsa Cox

There was a wide variety of stories entered, and I was impressed by the quality of the writing, and the care that had been taken in polishing the style; and by the writers’ willingness to experiment with different kinds of stories and structures, including genre writing. What made the winning stories stand out, for me, was vividness, clarity and originality. By originality, I don’t mean plots or themes that no one else had thought of, but a way of using the form to make us see the content in a new way.

If I had to sum that up in one word, I’d say ‘simplicity’. The best stories kept language, style and structure simple. Others might start well, but were quickly bogged down in too much information, slowing down the pace with explanations of complicated relationships or previous event. Lengthy  exposition, either using description or passages of dialogue, is not the short-story writer’s friend.

It was interesting to see writers turning to horror and the supernatural, great territory for the short story. The writers of ‘In Every Angel’ and ‘The Silent Pool’ root their stories in a banal, everyday world, slowly unleashing the generic elements. There were other stories that were potentially powerful, but signalled their spookinesses from the very beginning, which made them feel predictable despite touches of originality. Another word of advice on beginnings – beware metaphors or turns of phrase in the very first line that you might be very pleased with, but might not work for the reader. Keep the opening line clear and direct, without unnecessary distractions.

Of course none of my advice is infallible. There are no absolute rules; ‘Untroubled Waters’, for instance, contradicts the advice you will sometimes find in books on creative writing that tells you to focus on just one character.  It also breaks the rules by not including a single line of dialogue.

I was expecting to read stories set during the pandemic, or to reflect current circumstances in some way, and was surprised that this didn’t seem to be the case. We’re muddling through a confusing and shapeless narrative right now, and perhaps it will be months, or years, before we’re able to contain those experiences within our fiction without being overwhelmed by them. In the meantime, congratulations to the winners, and to all those who show so much dedication to their writing.

1st – ‘In Every Angel’

by Michael Ranes

 A wonderfully controlled story, that is deeply chilling, a true, and very original, horror story. By making you imagine the ultimate horror, the writer makes you pity, and possibly even empathise, with the abuser turned victim.

2nd – ‘How to Fake a Heart Attack’

by Richard Hooton

A lively and ingenious story, highly original in its structuring of a narrative through thirteen easy phases. The writer has a rare gift for subversive comedy.

3rd – ‘Untroubled Waters’

by Juliet Hill

Water is the main character in this story about a flood in an apartment block in an unspecified European city.  But there are other characters too, from Carmen and her little dog to Rasputin the avocado seller and the Jehovah’s Witnesses round the corner, all of them neighbours who are simultaneously close by and distant from each other.

Highly Commended

 â€˜The Artist’s New Beginnings’

by Sue Gerrard

While the identity of the protagonist comes as no surprise, the story is beautifully imagined and structured, and the point of view sustained with subtlety and restraint.


‘The Silent Pool’

by Ruth Loten

A tale of an abusive relationship slips into the supernatural, building on the imagery of silence and suppression through an uncanny landscape.


 â€˜The Anatomy of a Ticking Clock’

by Ciara Mullaney

With its startling beginning, this story is rather like Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ in that it’s based in a world in which everything is normal except for one very peculiar thing that has happened to the protagonist.