2018 Competitions

This year we are introducing a brand new competition for budding Young Poets which is open to anyone aged between 16 and 22 inclusive. The prizes consist of 1st: £150, 2nd: £75, 3rd: £50 plus a year’s membership of the Poetry Society. Young Poets joins the existing three categories: Short Story, Book for Children and Poetry. The prize money in these three competitions is 1st: £750, 2nd: £300 and 3rd: £200. We also offer prizes for local authors: the Hilly Cansdale prize of £100 for Poetry; the Wyvern Short Story prize, also £100, and £100 to the best local author of a Book for Children.

Short Story Competition

Helen Stevenson, Judge of the Short Story Competition - Wells Festival of LiteratureOur Short Story judge is Helen Stevenson, author of three novels and a memoir. She translates French fiction and teaches piano, having studied modern languages at Somerville College, Oxford. Helen began her career reading unsolicited manuscripts at Curtis Brown Literary Agency and then worked as an editor in publishing. Her memoir Love Like Salt was chosen by the Guardian’s Maggie O’ Farrell as one of the best books of the year.

Poetry Competition

Terry Gifford, Judge of the Poetry Competition - Wells Festival of Literature‘Full of tenderness and sharp wit’ Terry Gifford’s long-awaited eighth collection is A Feast of Fools (Cinnamon Press, 2018). In addition to his poetry, Terry is also the author of Green Voices: Understanding Contemporary Nature Poetry (2nd edn. 2011) as well as having written/edited seven books on Ted Hughes. He is Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University and Profesor Honorifico at the University of Alicante.

Book for Children Competition

Gill McLay, Judge of the Book for Children Competition - Wells Festival of LiteratureFounder and artistic director of the Bath Kids Lit Fest, Gill McLay runs the Bath Literary Agency specialising in children’s writers of fiction, non-fiction and picture books. Gill has worked in publishing since graduating from Oxford Brookes in 1996 and has experience in both small independent and large global companies. Her experience offers a unique insight into the different roles and sectors within the world of children’s books that take an author’s story to the reader. In addition to the cash prize, Gill will be offering a one-to-one critique to the winning author.

Young Poets Competition

Miriam Nash, Judge of the Young Poets Competition - Wells Festival of LiteratureOur judge in this exciting new category is Miriam Nash – a poet, performer and educator. Her first collection of poems All the Prayers in the House was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2017. It won an Eric Gregory Award (2015) and was runner-up for the Edwin Morgan Award (2016). Miriam leads creative writing and performance workshops in schools, museums, mental health organisations and prisons.

Shortlisting, judging, prize-giving, reading of shortlisted poems

Prizes for all four categories (Short Story, Poetry, Book for Children and Young Poets) will be presented on Sunday
21 October 2018. All shortlisted participants will be notified in advance.
Before the prize-giving, shortlisted poets in both categories will be invited to read their successful entries in a poetry reading celebration. All are welcome to this culmination of the competitions, and the occasion offers poets and members of the public the opportunity to meet and enjoy each other’s achievements.
All shortlisted poems will be printed in the admission ticket / programme for this event which will be available from mid-September. Please note, the Poetry Society advises us that a poem’s appearance in this entry ticket does not constitute ‘publication’.
Following the poetry readings, the prizes will be awarded for all four categories and a list of the successful authors/ poets, together with the titles of their works, will be posted on the Wells Festival of Literature website. All poems from the shortlist will also be included.


Read our Competitions Terms and Conditions

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