Old Competitions

Southport Writers’ Circle Annual Open Short Story Competition 2011

The standard of the entires this year was phenomenal, covering all walks of life, from the distant space-faring future to spooky campfire ghost stories. Sadly only some could win, so the shortlisted few were passed to our chief judge who commented as follows:

Phil McNulty

“To achieve an effective short story, the writer must be ruthlessly objective over their own work and consider their audience rather than themselves. They must be committed to a ‘slash and burn’ policy in respect of digressions, extraneous language, unnecessary characters, excessive description and indulgent philosophy. There is a task to be done requiring a real, believable and economical dialogue with the reader inside a rational structure. At the end of the journey- geographical, experiential, emotional- a good short story elicits a physical response. An intake of breath, a sigh, a knowing nod of the head, laughter, a tear all indicate that the story has ‘hit the mark’.

In achieving this, the writer will have created engagement and interest from the first line. They will handle their material with a confidence, consistency and pace which are invisible to the reader. There will be no distractions to pull one ‘out of the story’ and the language will be fluent and refined and entirely appropriate to the theme. There will be few characters and these will be confidently drawn and believable. Every word of their dialogue will be necessary and will bring meaning and vitality.

All locations, particularly exotic locations, will add depth, purpose and interest.’

That so many of the competition entries achieved these standards is most impressive. It was humbling to read so many experiences of life, intelligent observations and so much genuine wisdom expressed as fiction. Thank you”


2nd Prize – SALT STAIN By Zoe Gilbert

3rd Prize – CURRY ICE CREAM By Eithne Nightingale





COMMENDED – DEACON ISLE By Christine Buckland



Southport Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition 2011

The Winners

1st Prize – Shooting Rhino: Roger Elkin

2nd Prize – Missa Brevis: Anne Wrigley

3rd prize – Somewhere Else: Margaret Speak

Local Prize – The Petalled Dead: Cynthia Kitchen

Humour Prize – Poetry Cafe: Phil Rowley

Highly Commended

Handwritten: Lesley Burt

Fallow Deer, Good Home: Roger Elkin

Dressing Table: Will Gaunt


Product of Jamaica: Tasmin Forman

Neighbours 1: Gwynneth Box

Sea Battle (After Kandinsky: 1913): Thelma Laycock

Spring 2051: Cynthia Kitchen

The Chief Use of Vipers: Fay Dickinson

Siren: Corrinna Toop




Southport Writers’ Circle Annual Open Short Story Competition 2010

We were delighted to receive nearly 300 entries this year, which were read by our panel of judges who then used our carefully developed guidelines to select a short-list of thirty. These were given to the chief judge who commented as follows:

Gill (Roger) Sanderson

“I’ve been asked to judge this competition and the first thing to say is that all literary judging is subjective. I thoroughly understand readers who disagree with me – it’s their right. What is here is not necessarily the best, but what I thought was the best. A purely personal view. Having said which, I think it fair to explain what I was looking for, what my criteria were. I was looking for a certitude of vision. A clear understanding of what life is like. Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer says that a short story is ‘a world seen in a quick glancing light.’ Its brevity is its strength. If a novel is a progress, a movement from stage to stage, then a short story is a single flash of understanding.
This does not mean that the subject matter has to be limited. A thousand word story could deal with a five minute conversation between two people or a life time or a millennium. But the focus has to be on that single flash.
In a short story the style must match the content. There is an account – probably apocryphal – that when Georges Simenon first took a story to an editor, the editor read it and then said, ‘take it away. Bring it back when you have cut out all the literature and I’ll buy it.’ More than a few of the entries I had to reject had a good theme, an interesting plot, but were ‘literary,’ were couched in over ornate language. A clever simile or metaphor should progress the story, not stand out as a thing of beauty on its own. And adjectives can be as addictive as heroin – and as dangerous.
It is also not necessary to have a ‘twist in the tale’ in a short story. If it complements what went earlier, then a twist is fine. But I read quite a few entries in which the twist became the sole point of the story. This is often unsatisfying.
In general, I thought the standard was high. There was evidence of skill, of thought, of pride. The first three at least deserve wider publication.”

The Winners

1st Prize – The Day the Rains Came: John Morley

2nd Prize – The Perfection of Ten: Gill Hoffs

3rd prize – Rosemary Flowers are Blue: Catherine Mcardle

Highly Commended

Last of the Sand dragons: Dan Purdue

Sweet Dreams: Rosemary Fisher

Never the Same Advantages: Judy Walker


Curing Hicups: Steve Myers

First Flame: Bruce Harris

Growing Pains: Rebecca Camu



Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition 2010

1st, Nominee by Sara Ridgley.2nd, I Am Rock by Dianne Simkin.

3rd, Uneaten Meal by Frank McDonald.

Humour Prize.

Afternoon Break by A. Shaw

Local Prize.

Iron Men by Malcolm Terry.

Highly commended.

First Fire Of Autumn by Margaret Speak.

Eclipsed by Noel Williams.

Valentine by Lynn Roberts.


Foreign by David Duncombe.

Amber At The Tennis Club by Helen Yendel

Of Swimming Pools And Sundries by Frank McDonald.


Southport Writers’ Circle Annual Open Short Story Competition 2009

Despite the disruption to the postal service we were delighted to receive 304 entries this year, which were read by our panel of judges who used our carefully developed guidelines to select a short-list of thirty. These were given to the chief judge who commented as follows:

Kathleen Conlon

“To succeed in its aim, a short story has to engage the attention from the outset; and, because of the constraints of word length, it must set a convincing scene economically; and, most importantly, it must present a fresh approach to the chosen subject. Characterisation is important, as is consistency of theme. Language should be clear and precise; excessive imagery, and over-use of metaphor, which obscures rather than elucidates, only impedes our understanding.

All nine of these stories had something to recommend them, but the winners were those which succeeded best in marrying content to form, and each contained that element of surprise which lifted it out of the ordinary. Interestingly, all three were either set in the past or else events in the past were instrumental in shaping the present situation, and all were adept at invoking period detail in a convincing fashion, but the overall winner had an authenticity which convinced the reader that the characters were real people attempting, in their different ways, to cope with the aftermath of a real and life-changing event. It is no mean feat to incorporate a historical fact, of which we are all aware, into a work of fiction without the joins being evident, but this story succeeded in doing so. Of the twenty-seven short-listed stories, I have no hesitation in awarding it first place.”

The Winners

1st Prize Douglas Bruton, West Linton: The Boy Who Stayed At School.

2nd Prize Brenda Ryan, Bolton: Bitter Sweet.

3rd Prize Rosemarie Rose, Cwmbran: Me and Sophia Loren

Highly Commended

Dorothy Schwarz, Colchester: I’m Not Tired.

Cherry Lawton, Wolverhampton: The Anti-Ageing Diet Plan.


Iain Pattison, Bristol: Once Upon a Crime.

Rosemarie Rose, Cwmbran: The Dandelion Lawn.

Jonathon Pinnock, St Albans: The Last Words of Emanuel Prettyjohn.

Louise Hume, Brighton: Vivid.


S. Whaley: Jam, Jerusalem and Jeronimo

P. Philippou: A long Way Home

J.Copley: The World Left Behind

D. Patterson: Happy Birthday, Catherine

P. Barbieri: Man Made

N. Gilbert: Alligator Wrestling in the Far West

L. Voyce: Dreamtime Providence

M. Pearcy: We Shall Overcome

M. Swann: Julia’s Big Day

L. Armitage: Fete and Fortune

J. Morris: A New Place

D. Manser: The Lonely Salesman

P. Jacobs: It’s in the Bag

C. McHaines: Party Talk

J. Hall: Seeing Red

S. Holman: Forgetting What We Knew

M. James: Must End Monday

T. Jayatilaka: As long as she Waited


Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition 2009

RESULTSjane aspinall

The competition was ably judged by Jane Aspinall, who cheerfully and effervescently (?) gave us a well constructed critique of the winners and runners up on the presentation evening, as well as treating us to some of her own fine work.

The Winners

1st Prize Anne Stewart: BALANCE SHEET


3rd Prize Sharon Black: SEA GLASS

Humour Prize

Paul Groves: ELVIS LIVES

Local Prizes

Michael Cunningham: ON THE WAY DOWN

Highly Commended



Denise Bennett: For Edward Thomas


C.J Allen: PAUL

Lauren Urquhart: LOVE IS POISON




Southport Writers’ Circle Annual Open Short Story Competition 2008

JUDGE’S REPORTThe 338 entries were read by our panel of judges who used the guidelines that have been developed to select a short-list of thirty. These were given to the chief judge who commented as follows:

“Reading the short-listed stories was a pleasure. Each story was read twice initially then again to decide the gold, silver, bronze and any that were to be highly commended. The stories were accompanied by a set of guidelines to help in the decision but the winning story did not require any guidelines, it jumped to the front of the queue. LOCKED IN, LOCKED OUT wins. This story has everything; sadness, tragedy and humour, not a word wasted and it has a great ending. Deciding the second was difficult but after reading the three stories vying for the prize, POND LIFE came second; a sad story but very well told and precise in its telling, the story has originality and entertains. FAIRIES comes third. A good story, original, about a child and her imagination, with a wonderful line ‘..she wonders where the better life is kept..’ Highly commended is NEVER A CROSS WORD, a very good story, amusing and well told; ROUTINES, a very good story, precise and to the point; THE ODD JOB MAN, a winner waiting to happen, well told.”

The Winners

1st Prize Rosemarie Rose, Cwmbran: LOCKED IN, LOCKED OUT.

2nd Prize Phill Campbell, St Helens: POND LIFE.

3rd Prize Penny Wightwick, Sheffield: FAIRIES.

Highly Commended

Bruce Harris, Devon: ROUTINES.

R.J. Ivimy, E.Sussex: THE ODD JOB MAN.

Ted Jones, Villefranche-sur-Mer: NEVER A CROSS WORD.



Basil Ransome-Davie, Lancaster: THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING DUCKS.


K. Adkins: Wish You Were Here

F. Allan: A Walford Christmas

J. Anders: Lost Paradise

K. Bachmann: Charity

H. Bailey: Of Mice and Stepsisters

C. Buckland: The Baby is Crying Again

M. Clarke: Rude Awakening

M. Cookson: Stand Up and Be Counted

J. Derrrick: The White Lady

F. Dickinson: The End of the Line

C. Girvan: The Coffee Business

P. Hodge: Ashes to Ashes

M. Mclawlin: The Stone Man

D. Millward: Precious Sunday

P. Nockemann: Autumn

S. Palmer: Missing You

R. Rose: Antony Gormley’s Bum

J. Seaman: Treading Water

J. Smith: Six Mistakes

J. Smith: Overdue

J. Statham: Meadowsweet

D. Taylor: What Price a Cotton Bobbin




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Southport Writers' Circle