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.
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.
"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!"
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.'"