meet this year's judges
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. "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!"
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. on 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.'"
HOW TO ENTER
Please use our dedicated entry forms to enter. A single entry fee is £7.50 for either contest. You can enter more than once, and we offer a discount when submitting multiple entries together.
==> use the FICTION ENTRY FORM HERE
(max 2500 words)
==> use the POETRY ENTRY FORM HERE
(max 40 lines)
Main prize: In each competition 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded a cash prize of £250, £100 and £50, respectively.
Sussex Prize: To recognise & amplify writers living in East & West Sussex, a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be named in each competition. See rules for details and prizes.
Time To Stare Residency: a 5-day creative retreat at The Studio, in Three Oaks, East Sussex. One (1) overall winner will be selected from all eligible entries from across both Fiction and Poetry contests. This residency award is offered in partnership with B&R Productions, and is open to all regular entries from UK-based Black, Asian, & ethnically diverse writers
Deadline for entries is 14 July, 2023 at 10pm (UK Time).
Winners will be announced in person at the festival closing celebration in Hastings on Sunday, 24th September 2023.
JUDGES, RULES, FURTHER INFO
We are so please to welcome back our amazing judges VG Lee and John McCullough. You can find more information about them below.
To read our full competition rules and submission requirements, please go to our dedicated rules page.