Competitions 2022



Now open for entries!

VG Lee will judge this year’s short story competition.

VG Lee is the critically acclaimed author of five novels and two collections of short stories, the most recent of which, Oh You Pretty Things, was published in 2019. Sarah Waters said, "Lee writes with unfailing warmth and wisdom" while Andrea Levy praised her "light touch, wonderful laconic style and spot-on humour."

​In 2012, Lee was nominated for a Stonewall Award for writing and in 2014 she won the Ultimate Planet Award for Best Established Author.

VG Lee
Oh You Pretty Thing ISBN13 9781909347137

Our poetry judge this year is John McCullough.

John won the Hawthornden prize for literature in 2020 for his third collection Reckless Paper Birds, which was also shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. He published his most recent collection Panic  Response in March 2022 to great critical acclaim. His poems and have appeared in Poetry Review, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Poetry London and Best British Poetry. His first collection The Frost Fairs (Salt, 2011) won the  Polari First Book Prize and was a Book of the Year for The Independent and The Poetry School.

John McCullough

"What advice would I give entrants? – well, within the 2,500 word limit, I’m hoping to find short stories that inspire my curiosity and make me want to read on. I need to care about the characters while a plausible story-line is required to create a harmonious whole. Every word is valuable – don’t waste them!"

VG Lee

Jon McCullough writes: "As for what I'm looking for, I would say 'I'm hoping to find poems that are modern and surprising. I like carefully crafted work with emotional intensity, pieces that appeal both to the heart and head, that give the reader goosebumps through original imagery and phrasing. There are many different ways to succeed rather than one correct path. I enjoy poems that take risks. Subject matter for me is less important than vitality and a fresh angle of approach.'"

Panic_Response ISBN13 9781913850050

Hastings Book Festival 2022 Competitions


Welcome to the annual Hastings Book Festival Competitions!

We are running two main competitions this year:

  1. SHORT STORY: on any theme with a maximum word count of 2500.

  2. POETRY: single poems on any theme, with a limit of 40 lines.

The Prize

  • The winning entries in each category will receive a cash prize of £250.

  • The runner up in each category will receive a cash prize of £50.

  • Prizes will be presented in person at the festival closing celebration in Hastings on Sunday 25th September

To Enter:

Each entry costs £7.50 or £13 for two entries and £20 for three.

Please use the link below to process your payment and use your confirmation number as the subject matter in your entry which should be emailed to – your email should include your name, telephone number and a brief biography (<200 words) for us to use if you are shortlisted.

FUNDING FOR BURSARIES: We are able to provide a limited number of bursaries for those currently unemployed or on low income and struggling to meet the costs of living.

Please email with details if you wish to apply for a bursary to cover the costs of your entry.