Competition Results

Short Story 2014 Results

Once again the standard of entries to the Short Story competition was astounding, with many tales of intrigue, romance, adventure and at least one with pirates in it. We had entrants from France, America. Australia and others (one entrant who hailed from very far away wrote in a flawless Yorkshire accent which was impressive), all of whom added colour to the overwhelming pile of manuscripts that we received.

However, only so many people can win and after a lengthy sifting process our final judge picked the top three as well as some Highly Commended entries. See below for winners, judges comments, and as ever, any highlighted titles can be clicked on to link to the winning stories themselves.


First – ‘Before After’ by Michelle Brown

Great title, and an intriguing opening that pulls the reader in. A moving story about a life event that, for the narrator, will change things forever. A story about life beginning and life ending. Very well written with some memorable phrases. Good tension in the relationship between the narrator, her partner and her sister. Left me thinking about the story long after I’d finished reading.


Second –‘Tuesdays’ by Carly Schabowski

An engaging story that pulls you in and makes you care about the characters, written fluently with good style.  Vivid, atmospheric descriptions with realistic, believable characters and good dialogue. A surprising but apt ending that leaves you wanting to know more.


Third – ‘Damp Grass and Forward Rolls’ by Heather Allison

An absolutely delightful story involving two charming elderly characters. The story is alive with engaging and amusing dialogue, with the final promise of a deliciously unlikely romance. Very enjoyable and well written.


Highly Commended:

‘Address Unknown’ by Joyce Walker

‘Cycle Lane’ by Sue Hoffmann

‘Eye of the Beholder’ by Bruce Harris

‘Letters from Happy Land’ by Richard Kelly

SWC Poetry 2014 Results

With a big thanks to the talented Stephen Beattie, find below the winners, commendeds and judge’s thoughts on the Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition 2014


‘Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood’ T.S. Eliot.

Chief Judge’s Report – Stephen Beattie

“As final adjudicator I was delighted to receive over 120 poems from a total of 300. Firstly I would like to thank my fellow poet Denise Randall for selecting the final batch of poems and for her hard work running the admin side of the competition. All the poems Denise selected had merit and it was pleasing to see set forms represented, (Sestina, Sonnet and Villanelle), as well as Free Verse. I read all the poems at least three times and each one had something to say, in fact the hardest part of the adjudication process is letting a poem go knowing that the author has striven to produce their best work.

After the initial readings I was left with a long list of 50 which I then reduced to a short list of 20. All of the 20 were well crafted pieces and I’m sure many of them will have success elsewhere. However winning poems have to be chosen and although I am aware that poetry is very subjective I believe that the winners have produced work that provokes, entertains and enriches.

Thank you to all who entered the competition, your work has given me many hours of pleasure and quite a few, ‘Why didn’t I think of that!’ moments.”


1st Prize, Squinting at Fish by Pat Borthwick

Written in un-rhymed couplets with careful use of precise language Pat Borthwick tells the story of a blind person who partially regains their sight. This beautifully crafted poem never lapses into sentimentality and contains many wonderful images, I particularly like, ‘Frames as cold as Skegness sea’.


2nd Prize, Birdman with young owl by Jackie Wills

A poem that draws in the reader with a description of a couple meeting with a man

who has hand reared an owl. The poem appears deceptively simple until the final three

stanzas when themes of gender roles and control are introduced taking the work into a

much darker area.


3rd Prize, Invisible Man by Al Mcclimens

A playful poem with disturbing undertones about the loss of identity. The use of language is witty and direct and works well as a poem for the page and in performance.

Highly Commended, Descendents by Roger Elkin

Highly Commended, Dawn by Vaughan Rapatahana

Commended, Another Place by Ken Sullivan

Commended, If This Scene Were Two Dimensional by Pauline Hawkesworth

Commended, on the morning of my death by Jim Bennett


Local Prize, Tick Tock, Time’s Clock by Lynne Sutton

A feel-good poem describing a family sitting together after Sunday lunch. The entire piece is laden with imagery and the poet consistently shows rather than tells. The description of the grandparents in the second and third stanzas is stunning.

Highly Commended, In Care by Brian Wake

Commended, Taking Root by Lynne Sutton.


Humour Prize, A Bit On The Side, by Loraine Darcy

A delightful poem that made me laugh out loud but just as importantly the poet has taken care to ensure that the work conforms to the rules of poetry, something many writers of comic verse fail to do. The subject matter is saucy without ever descending into vulgarity and concludes with an excellent punch line, another poem that would work equally well on the page or in performance.

Highly Commended, Silverbacks by Darren Cannan

Commended, The man in the Moon by Joanne Fox

Short Story 2013 Results

Thanks to all those who entered! We had hundreds of entries from all around the world, including Germany, Australia and even the Netherlands, and many were considered for the shortlist. However only a select few made it to the final cut, so congratulations to the skilled few.

Below, please find the judges comments and any highlighted story titles are available to read if you click on them.


CRITIQUE by Dennis Conlon


Thank you for asking me to judge your competition. It was an enjoyable task and good to see there are so many good writers around. The standard was very good. Naturally, even with a strict marking scheme, the result is always going to be subjective. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied with the choice of winner. Apologies to all those who didn’t win especially to those who thought they should have. There were many good pieces that didn’t make it for a variety of reasons. As with any competition of this nature, there was a great degree of differing styles and abilities. Some appealed, some didn’t. Some pieces were very well written but then, as may be expected, spoiled by the usual mistakes, POV being the most regular. It’s difficult to empathise with a protagonist if the writer suddenly jumps into another character’s head. There was a quantity of stories where the writer was unable to RUE, ‘resist the urge to explain’ and the usual smattering of over exposition. Having said all that, there was also a good deal of promise.



What I enjoyed most about this piece was the structure: very original. The writer uses an excellent device to separate the gaol location from the rest of the island and then brilliantly uses this device to execute the twist in the ending. At no point before the reveal is it predictable. The descriptive passages are very well done, giving a good flavour of place and time. Again, by use of the structure, the opening subtly draws the reader in without them knowing where they are being taken. The characters are confidently drawn and the action and pace evolves perfectly. Dialogue not only assists with characterisation it also enhances the plot without a hint of over exposition. Original and professional.



Well-written story, perfectly formatted, always a good pointer to any publisher’s reader. Clever use of character to set up the plot, totally believable. The writing is of good quality, creating the page-turner this piece is. Subtle introduction of third character that later becomes important. The pace is very well controlled and the dialogue and language really suits the piece. There is a danger that the denouement is flagged too early, which could have spoiled the piece but the writer gets over this with a nice but simple twist at the end.



Beautiful piece, simply written or simple piece, beautifully written, either suits. Good title. Sets off at a gentle pace, true to life characters. Although not properly formatted, this didn’t make it difficult to follow or detract from the story. Would need to be addressed if submitting for publication; however, the clarity of the dialogue makes it fluent and easy to read. The plot demands attention and is strongly moving. The pace is effortless.


HIGHLY COMMENDED – “DYING TO SPEAK” by Andrew Campbell Kearsey

Effectively written piece, laid out professionally and well set up with good language and dialogue. However, I felt the wheelchair was revealed unnecessarily early. Given that it was the main point of the plot, it didn’t need to be mentioned until the punch-line. Nevertheless, the characters were confidently drawn, the style was good and the piece was engaging.



I couldn’t decide which piece should be highly commended so I chose two. I really liked this story and feel it could have been placed had the writer taken more care of the protagonist narrator; which was a shame because the other characters were true to life, credible and instantly involved the reader. However, I didn’t discover the character was female until three quarters of the way through, a vital point given the relationship with the other two male characters: in particular, the antagonist. Nonetheless, it was professional, the plot was handled assuredly and the language was excellent, showing the writer’s sensitivity with words.

Southport Writers' Circle