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Fables Fest @ Edge Hill – 23rd March

On the 23rd March (a Friday) we will be delighted to be taking part in the inaugural Fables Fest, a gathering of literary types from all over the North for a day of discussions and wordy enjoyment.

We will be doing an hour long poetry workshop at 11am, and everyone is more than welcome to come down and see what is happening.

SWC Annual International Poetry Competition 2018

Online entries CLICK HERE

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

(In addition: £25 Humour Prize)

Chief Judge: Alison ChisholmAlison

Alison has written 11 poetry collections and had her work broadcast on both TV and radio. She lives in Southport and has been teaching poetry and creative writing for over 30 years. She has written courses for the Merseyside and North West Open College boards, as well as running workshops across the UK, including at Swanwick, NAWG Festival of Writing, The Writers’ Holiday, Fishguard, The Writers’ Summer School, and Relax and Write weekends. Currently, Alison works as a poetry consultant and regularly contributes to Writing Magazine.

RULES: Please read carefully

  • Poems should bear no identification of the poet.  Humour entries should be marked with an ‘H’. Humour entrants are not disqualified from winning main prizes.
  • Please enclose a separate A4 sheet of paper with your full contact details (address, email, phone number) and list of titles submitted. For online entries, this information is allowable in the body of the email.
  • All entries must be typed on A4 paper, in English (dialects allowable), and must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant.
  • For internet entries, please include PayPal ref. number in body of email OR put the story(ies) names in the comments (add info) 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.
  • Each entry should be accompanied by the appropriate fee of £3 per poem or four poems for £10. Cheques/Postal orders should be in sterling and payable to: SOUTHPORT WRITERS’ CIRCLE.
  • A maximum of 40 lines per poem is allowed.
  • The closing date for entries will be 30th April 2018. Winners will be informed in June, general availability of results thereafter.
  • Please keep a copy of your poem(s) as manuscripts cannot be returned.
  • The adjudicator’s decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding receipt of individual entries or payments.
  • If you would like a copy of adjudicator’s report (if 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:-

Southport Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition

Poetry Competition

60 Dinorwic Rd,




Please DO NOT send entries by recorded delivery or send any other confirming material such as return postcards.

Online entries CLICK HERE

Short Story 2017 Results

For Winning Stories Click Here

Organisers Report

This year’s standard of entries was just as high as previous ones and our shortlisting team had real trouble filtering out the best for Joanne to peruse. The most common theme this year was ‘Divorce’ which was a new one for us, but the perennial ‘Ghost story’ showed its face more than a few times in the literary mix. Globally, entrants were fairly spread out, with France, Spain and New Zealand being represented this year and also a small story from the Isle of Skye.

Every entry though had a different idea as to what was a good story and many of them were exactly that, however, as ever, the massed ranks of creativity were whittled away to leave us with but a scant handful of winners. Well done to them and to everyone else who entered.

Those who did not make the cut, we encourage you to keep trying, as one day it could be you on that ethereal winner’s podium claiming a prize for your excellent writing.


Judges Report – Joanne Reardon

First Prize: Giving Him Back – Valerie Bowes

Understated and assured writing which pulls the reader into a world where nothing is quite as it seems.  Three children spending an unremarkable day at the beach building sandcastles and playing football are disturbed by a young child who has wandered into their space.  When the eldest child, Mara, tries to return him to his family she finds that this simple task is not as easy as she imagines.  This is a gentle ghost story just strange enough to undermine our expectations but familiar enough to imagine ourselves in the same predicament. It does what all good short stories do and captures a whole lifetime in an instant and although the reader has to work to get to the final twist in the story, the trouble is worth it. The writer creates an engaging and believable world full of longing and regret.

Second Prize: Hara-kiri       – Richard Stephenson                         

Another story where a familiar world becomes something completely unexpected and the reader is shaken out of complacency into a world altogether darker and more unsettling. The writer paces the narrative with care starting by establishing the familiar banality of office life where spreadsheets and data are analysed in detail and where one badly misjudged decision can bring down a corporation. So far, so familiar, but our sense of equilibrium is challenged by events in the story and the elegance of Japanese ritual combines with British stiff upper lip to take a dark turn, which lingers in the reader’s mind long after the story has ended.

Third Prize: Old – Marcia Woolf                                                                                       

This was a moving story where moment by moment emotions find themselves poised on a knife’s edge as though one wrong word or move could break the carefully wrought tension.  This matches the content and tone of the story which takes place in the aftermath of a funeral where long held secrets remain stubbornly unresolved. Despite the final confrontation between mother and son being a little too predictable which tends to lessen the tension overall, the story nevertheless has credibility and honesty which would easily connect with a reader.

Highly Commended: Stranger, Stranger – Robert Kibble                                          

Nothing is quite as it seems in this story where a parent’s worst nightmare is realised as a child disappears in the London Underground.  There are some good narrative decisions here – the first person narrative voice creates genuine warmth and honesty and the use of the immediate present holds the reader in the grip of the narrator’s fears. Bringing in a second first person narrative does slightly undermine the control of the narrative, it being hard to convince of two personal stories in such a short space of time, but genuine promise in the writing here all the same.


If Walls Could Talk – Pamela Trudie Hodge,

Parka Billy – Juliet Hill

New Year’s & Beginners Night

On the 18th January we are holding a gentle evening of encouragement for those who have promised themselves that they would write more this year, with activities designed to stimulate in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

It will be at our usual venue of Parenting 2000 at 8pm.

Activities so far include:

Quick Plot

Story Essentials

Simple Poem

Making a Character Breathe

Expressing Emotion

Short Story Update

Hello writers! Just to let you know that the Short Story 2017 is in it’s final stages of judging, however the winning announcement is being postponed till January.

General public availability of results will be after the Awards Ceremony on 25th Jan, but main winners will be informed sooner than that so we can sort out prizes and so on.

Watch this space…

Next Few Weeks

Just so you are all aware, the next few weeks have shifted around a bit:

7th Sept – Normal meeting

14th Sept – No Meeting – Going to see members play Tadpoles at 81 Renshaw Street, Liverpool at 7.30pm.

21st – Mills and Boon Night In Honour of Roger Sanderson

Workshop and Short Story Launch

Tonight at the usual venue we are having one of our always excellent Workshop nights, so feel free to come down and exercise your creative juices.

Also! Short Story 2017 is officially launched, with Chief Judge Jo Reardon lined up to sift the winners from the piles of creative talent. Note- the address for entries has changed this year, so check  the rules carefully.

SWC Annual International Short Story Competition 2017

First prize: £150      Second prize: £80     Third prize: £30

Closing date: 31st October 2017

Online entries CLICK HERE

Chief Judge: Jo Reardon

Jo’s fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies including The London Magazine and Mafia and she was runner up in the Cinnamon Short Story Prize 2014.  In collaboration with artist Iain Andrews her short story, ‘My Mind’s Eye’, was published at the Warrington Arts Festival (2012) and ‘Still Life with Blackbirds’ at the Corinium Museum, Cirencester with artist Richard Kenton Webb in 2016.  She also writes for radio where she was a Producer for many years at BBC Radio Drama.  Jo studied Creative Writing at UEA and Lancaster University and is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. Passionate about the short story, she is looking forward to reading the shortlisted entries hoping to find something that will surprise, delight, maybe even shock but above all, hold the reader in its hand from start to finish.

Full Rules:

  • Your entry should be an unpublished, original story on any theme of up to 2000 words (previous publication includes via internet or independent press).
  • Do not put your name on your story but do give it a suitable title. Titles should be both appropriate and interesting.
  • There is no set theme or style for the competition, other than the above.
  • You do not need an entry form. Send us a separate cover sheet  with each entry’s title, word count, your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.
  • For internet entries, please include PayPal ref. number in body of the email OR put the story(ies) names in the comments box when paying. Also please use basic formatting in any of .doc, .docx, rich text or .odf file types when attaching your entry file to the email. Any sidebars, headers, footers or unusual layouts may result in your electronic entry being rejected.
  • No individual correspondence will be entered into regarding receipt of works/payments, so please do not send any confirmational material or use Recorded Delivery.
  • Please include an SAE if you wish to receive a print of the results/judges report (if available) when the competition is finished. For email entries, please note in the body of the mail that you would like to receive the results.
  • Winners will be informed in Dec/Jan, general availability of results will be available on this site thereafter. There may be a delay publishing results depending on circumstances and permissions.
  • Entries in English please (minor dialect allowable).
  • Winning stories may be published on this site for 12 months with permission of original author.

Optional – Paper saving single-spaced entries encouraged.

  • The fee is £3.00 for each story, or £10 for 4.  You can pay by cheque or postal order made out to Southport Writers’ Circle. Note – E-Entries have a processing fee.

Send postal entries to:

Short Story Competition

60 Dinorwic Rd,


Merseyside, PR8 4DL


Online entries CLICK HERE

Poetry 2017 Results

Note From Organiser

Another busy year for our little international poetry competition, and it was truly international with many entries from France, Germany, Australia and other parts of the globe.

The standard as ever was exemplary and the skim down to the shortlist was difficult with well over 300 fine examples of poetry pouring in. This time round Romance was NOT the common theme, instead a wide array of themes, tones and styles graced our eyes and moved our emotions; there really are some talented people out there.

In the end though, this years judge Carole Baldock had the final say and her report is below.


SWC Annual International Poetry Competition 2017 Judges Report

According to some people, there is a difference between competition poems and those submitted to a magazine – can’t see it myself, because in both instances, the focus is on the best work. As to what is best, that’s always subjective. As is humour, which is where we’ll start.

I have been known to point out that all too often, Orbis seems to be full of doom and gloom so the light-hearted is greeted with open arms, and publication. That said, humour is a tricky thing to master but what’s interesting is that it’s invariably in rhyme, and as some of you may know, Orbis is one of the few magazines which continue to publish such work – I love a good rhyme.

Incidentally, once you’re down to a shortlist, most submissions unfortunately rule themselves out through the tiniest of details – or maybe it’s a case of choosing a judge who tends somewhat towards nit-picking…But like they say: shame to spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar, in particular when it’s a little something which can easily be remedied, such as spelling; grammar; inconsistent layout etc – yes, the dreaded semicolon, or omission thereof, should be in that list.

For example, the poem I found the most amusing was not labelled with ‘H’ but even though technically disqualified, it deserves an Honorary Mention.

‘Trumpery, Trumpety-Trump’ by Grahame Lloyd

Runner-up: the vast majority of humorous poems use rhyme because it adds punch. This used partial rhyme, which I am not generally a fan of since it can be jarring but it works well here. And such a daft idea, with an incongruous twist.

‘The Man in the Red Sombrero’ by J Gorman

The winner of the Humour prize could not really be faulted, except that the poem deserved a more interesting title. But it sauntered along jauntily so there was no sense of the poet desperately seeking for words which sound the same instead of focusing on imagery and language – let alone being humorous. A clever comment on Society, all the more so for not preaching, and the message was conveyed with a great deal of wit, and puns: eg, ‘down at heel’; ‘poor old soul’. And a clever twist at the end.

‘Peggotty-Sue’ by A K S Shaw


Main Prizes

Honourable Mention

‘A Blue Time’ by Judy Drazin

A very personal poem, extremely moving. It dealt with a difficult subject with memorable delicacy. And you could argue that the often seemingly indiscriminate line breaks making it a somewhat disjointed read were appropriate, given the theme. Nonetheless, it may have had more impact with less of a distraction if the rhyme scheme had been consistent and line endings were more logical and effective, used to add focus with stronger words rather than ‘a’ or ‘my’.


‘Bombs Don’t Fall’ by Scott Elder


‘Baby Sheep’ by Leo Holloway

One, richly painted, the other, plain speaking; the former, on fairly familiar territory; the other portraying a surreal landscape – no, I did not quite get the latter but there again, one of my favourite pieces of advice about poetry: you don’t have to understand a poem to appreciate it. It also had a stronger – stranger – conclusion; the former, again, may have worked better with some lines the other way round.

In both cases, I could complain about the use of dashes: seemed to be used mainly to replace punctuation rather than reserved to add emphasis/drama; because 1 of them seemed superfluous, the other had less of an effect. And one misplaced capital letter in the former but with both, I could not fault the line endings nor the use of language – marvellous metaphors in the former: ‘lambs scuttling on salad-server legs’; stark comments in the latter: ‘The wind was ever from the north’. Both, in their own way, were heart-felt, and so beautifully crafted, they have the same effect on the reader.


‘I will buy a trunk’ by Cathy Whittaker

So what was I looking for? Originality: ideas, imagery and language, and the winning poem caught my attention right from the start – although maybe an unfair advantage since I happen to know Whitehaven. But still, pretty flawless, even transcending a full stop which should have been a comma. And there were a couple of line endings I could quibble about, while a couple of stanzas may have been more effective swapped around.

Nevertheless, it was written with considerable authority and verve, successfully transforming the everyday (garage full of tools) into the extraordinary with some striking metaphors: ‘nightmares squared like maps’. Based, sort of, on ‘pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag’, it effortlessly manages to avoid reading like a list, conjuring up memories, good and bad, being full of vivid imagery and ideas, often very wittily: ‘I’ll think of a number which is not my birthday’. Above all, it is that very rare thing: a happy poem.

As I was taught, many years ago, studying for a degree in Librarianship, one of the golden rules of business is getting it right the first time, every time, although, fair enough, that’s extremely, perhaps impossibly, stringent. And should never, ever be applied to computers of course.

But the finalists can rest assured, they passed this text with flying colours. And authority; work which has been a labour of love but in being expertly crafted, read effortlessly: entertaining and often educational. And something which it would be a pleasure to consider for publication in Orbis.

Poetry Adjudication

Good news! SWCIPC 2017 has been judged! We will be contacting the winners shortly and having an award evening on the 6th July at the usual venue to officially announce results after the usual checks and so forth have been done.

Why not come down and listen to judge Carole Baldock’s wise rulings and maybe pick up some tips for future poems?