Richard Booth Prize Winner 2022, Lily Rose King.

We are delighted to showcase Lily Rose King’s 1st prize winning piece, “Angels” from this year’s Richard Booth Prize for Non Fiction.

We are extremely grateful to our wonderful judge, Gilly Smith for reading the entries and selecting such a worthy winner.

Gilly wrote of “Angels” –

This is such a beautifully poignant essay on life and death, motherhood and childhood, love and loss. I love the tiny detail – hours spent giggling over slow cigarettes – juxtaposed with the profound reflections on what life and love is really all about. The lack of names makes it a universal story while the detail, again shared by so many of us, makes it belong to the protagonist alone. It’s about everything that is important in life.

Angels
by Lily Rose King

Six children birthed and another one raised as her own. Twelve grandchildren smattered along a sliding scale of ages with the oldest tipping into adulthood, and now the thirteenth pressed into her arms, just two days old.

Her bones resemble memory foam as they recall how to hold him with a gentle ease that can only be gleaned from experience; nestling into the crook where so many babies before him have been cradled.

Three weeks from now her earth will shatter, bringing into focus the poignancy of this moment. But in her blissful unawareness she soaks up the endless magic that is summoned by the all-consuming presence of a newborn.

Memories engulf her and suddenly she is just turned sixteen again, clutching her firstborn like a doll and holding back tears as the nurses scoff at her naivety.

They begrudged her the help she so desperately needed, but pride and determination to do her best for her boy saw her forge her own path as a mother. Years later, she would teach her three daughters how to do the same; albeit under wildly different circumstances.

Born and raised on the very edges of Northwest London, she fell head over heels for trouble. They were married while her belly swelled, her father’s fierce disapproval subsiding the minute he laid eyes on his grandson for the first time. From then on, their bond was unshakeable.

The babies kept coming, and she found her heart continued expanding to make room for them all. With an army husband came the inevitable compromise to frequently move home, and she uprooted her flock ready for the next cycle to commence: new town, new friends, new start.

To her youngest children, separated from the older ones only by a large age gap and a different father, she would indulge repeated requests to recall tales of their mishaps and adventures, embroidering these years with a pattern of laughter and coating them with a sepia tone of nostalgia. Even though her reality was somewhat different, being a devoted working mother with an unfaithful spouse, it was evident her children had always been – and would always be – the light of her life.

When they were posted to the Brecon Beacons it induced an epiphany. Existing amongst the lush green of those valleys was like settling into cushions on a sofa: she finally felt they were home. Hours were spent giggling like schoolgirls over slow cigarettes with the neighbour who quickly won the occupation of her best friend. Her oldest daughter learnt to ride horses, and her youngest raced snails up the living room walls. The smallest of the boys set his status as the joker by unwittingly cracking hilarious one liners, which are reminisced about even to this day. The big brothers caused such mischief that it still proved legendary when the youngest children, not yet born, eventually attended the same school some thirty years later.

After moving back down south and remarrying, her tribe expanded again. Not only were her children growing up and starting their own families, but she also added two more babies to her brood. The daughter whose newborn she now held, and a son. Both premature and tiny as a result of preeclampsia.

Despite relishing as the nucleus of her clan, physically living at the centre of each member, and metaphorically being the one they gravitated towards, she felt something was missing. Years of studying and late nights had paid off as she became a qualified nurse and excelled in her job on a gynaecology ward, but she couldn’t shake the magnet that urged her towards the Brecon Beacons once again.

A successful application to a district nurse role saw the four that remained in the household pack up and relocate. For her, she knew it was the last time. Her body breathed a sigh of relief as soon as they arrived.

Her existence ebbed and flowed, meandered with the river, but she was solid in her decision to move. Whatever happened, it was easier to cope with here. The kids became adults, and the adults had more kids. No two were in the slightest the same, and neither were any two days.

She was their rock. Answering daily phone calls for advice, soothing teary teenage tempers, guiding through break ups and marriages. She thrived on it.

The baby stirs in her arms and summons her back to the present. She sits on the end of the new parents’ bed while they slouch against the headboard, ecstatic but exhausted.

The next few weeks are a bubble of bliss as much for her as for the mother; sleepy cuddles and squishy features evoking sentimental smiles. Although her nappy changing repertoire is extensive, the exercise takes a little getting used to again.

And then it comes. On an ordinary Saturday. The news from Africa that her firstborn is dead.

A heavy reminder that where there is life there is death.

Instantly she is caught up in the whirlwind process that no mother should have to endure. Panic. Sorrow. Anger. Fear. Followed by grief taking up its permanent residency in her body.

Like never before she collapses into the family she has built. They all experience the loss in unique ways, but none quite as destructive as hers. Yet the love is palpable. They come from their own homes, hours away, and sit together in hers.

And he is there. The baby. The only being detached from the emotion. But it is as if he knows his importance; understands his role as a shining beacon in the sea of their darkness. In his company they find the relief they seek, if only momentarily.
They admire his beauty and carry his weight, a tangible reminder of the fragility of life.

As he grows so does her anguish. Although she is comforted by his fleeting resemblance to her angel, born not forty-eight years ago. Those who say time travel is not real have never lost a child.

There are countless visitors, so many bouquets that her lounge resembles a florist shop, cards, and condolences. There are arrangements and a funeral. A plot is selected, and a headstone planted there. She visits to clean the marble and arrange fresh flowers.

One phrase embeds itself into her, from her late son’s girlfriend, who had somewhat of an outsider perspective when visiting them in the worst possible situation.

“There is so much love in this house.”

She already knows it is this love that will carry her through.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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‘Grief Is The Price We Pay For Love’ Queen Elizabeth II

It’s often difficult to write when something is too emotionally close.

Today, as Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest many of us reflect on the deep impression she had on our lives. Emotions run high – love and loss, grief and gratitude. We are incredibly thankful for her years of service and the promise she made over 70 years ago, which she kept. She was a remarkable lady who will very soon slip into history leaving her unique indelible mark on it’s pages.

Queen Elizabeth II

Our Writer’s Homework from our last meeting was to write on the subject of Her Majesty. Fortunately, one of our group managed to put pen to paper with this short piece.

   The Queen, God Bless Her

by Michael Eisele

Those of you who are indigenous to these Isles may think it bit cheeky for two recent immigrants (35 years as residents and counting) to be expressing a view on the late queen. In mitigation, let me remark that not everyone who emigrates to the UK does so after reading ‘The Mists of Avalon’ by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

I offer then a conversation, as well as I can remember it, between my wife and myself over the Breakfast table this Thursday morning , 15 September.

Me- You know, I doubt whether Charles III will get such a send off. Why do you suppose that is?

Wife- There’s something special, don’t you think, about a woman who has devoted her entire life to care for her subjects?

M- You mean as a mother, so to speak.

W- Exactly!  Men do care for their children, don’t get me wrong, but only a mother feels that special bond where she would unhesitatingly give her life to protect her young.

M- So you don’t think that thousands of people waiting in line all night to pay their respects is a little, well, extreme?

W- Not at all. Grief is one thing, but do you get the sense that those people feel abandoned? The processions, the flower tributes, it all has an air of, well, celebration. It’s like she’s been part of their lives and always will be.

M- Exactly how one feels about the passing of a beloved mother,  you’re saying

W- Yes. And here’s another thing. Have you noticed (mentions several family issues which seem to have magically been resolved)  It’s as if with her passing she took all the bad stuff that’s been happening with her. Don’t you get a sense of that from the people who have been interviewed on the news?

M- I begin to see where you’re going with this.  You know, what’s really strange is that fire ball everyone saw in Scotland.

W- You mean like how comets are regarded by many as portents of a new era? 

M- You have to wonder. The country could certainly use some optimism right now.

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Richard Booth Prize for Non Fiction and Seasonal Changes

We are delighted to announce the results of our annual non-fiction competition.

This popular competition again received a good number of entries from both inside and outside Hay Writers’ Circle and we very much welcome external interest in all our writing competitions.

Our memorial prize, named in tribute to Richard Booth, the self-proclaimed “King of Hay”, who among many literary interests, was a keen supporter of the Hay Writers’ Circle. He sadly passed away in 2019, still in love with books, writers and his beautiful kingdom of Hay-on-Wye.

The judge this year was the wonderful Gilly Smith who has written encouraging comments on all the winning pieces. Thank you Gilly.

Without further delay, here are the results :

The Richard Booth Prize for Non-Fiction Competition 2022

Third Place – A Brief Encounter – Michael Eisele

Second Place – Jubilee Summer – Michelle Pearce

First Place – Angels – Lily Rose King

 First Place – Judge’s comments

This is such a beautifully poignant essay on life and death, motherhood and childhood, love and loss. I love the tiny detail – hours spent giggling over slow cigarettes – juxtaposed with the profound reflections on what life and love is really all about. The lack of names makes it a universal story while the detail, again shared by so many of us, makes it belong to the protagonist alone. It’s about everything that is important in life. 

Second Place – Judge’s comments

This is such a lovely memory which so many of us will share – not just the legs sticking to the seat in the back of the family car en route to a British summer holiday, but that moment when Elvis died. The detail took me right back! As I read it on the hottest day in recorded memory, I can smell the country lanes and bouncy seats of that old Anglia! 

I think it would have worked better if the memory hadn’t been challenged at the end. I’d prefer to stay in ‘the grey curl of the sea, the smudged lift of the sky’ sharing a moment in our collective memory!

Third Place – Judge’s comments

This is such a wonderful slice of life, a chance meeting of two souls, one able to capture the other, the other waiting to be captured. Its colloquial style lends itself to its authenticity and the fleeting moment shared by observer and someone whose experience taught them both something new about the temporariness of life. Delightful!

Seasonal Changes for Hay Writers’ Circle

September arrives and marks a change of season. Gone are those long, languid but brilliant days of summer and into the foreground the harvest comes, bringing darkening evenings and that first hint of frost.

This year September also brings a change in chairperson for the Hay Writers’ Circle. For the last two years Jean O’Donoghue has steadfastly guided the group through lock-down lows and post-pandemic highs. Jean has continually enabled the group to thrive and write well. She’s bolstered our confidence during this year’s wonderful Hay Festival performance and embraced new opportunities such as zoom and email meetings when we wallowed in our homes unable to leave.

As Jean steps back from being our Chair, we extended our heartfelt gratitude for her years of hard work and service to the group.

We also welcome our newly elected Chairperson, Katharine Stones and wish her lots of good fortune and exciting opportunities over the coming years.

Also stepping down this year is Kerry Hodges who has been our Competitions Secretary for some years. Kerry has been an absolute asset with deft organisational skills collating all the paperwork, managing correspondence and communicating with judges for all 3 of our yearly competitions. Each year our competitions have garnered more and more entries, and Kerry has been fantastic. Thank you Kerry.

We now welcome Lily Rose King to the position of Competition’s Secretary for Hay Writers’ Circle and wish her well in her new role.

Other members of HWC committee remain the same. Mark Bayliss – Secretary, Alan Oberman – Treasurer and Emma van Woerkom – Website and Social Media Manager.

After enjoying a month (mostly) in the sun, we are all itching to get back to writing again. Here are some of the group at our last meeting in Cusop Village Hall. The eagle-eyed among you may notice some cakes in the centre of the table – these were naturally for incentive purposes only … although Jean’s smile says otherwise!

Happy Writing!

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Hay Writer Has Poetry With A Sea View

Poem and Photo by Emma van Woerkom ©2022

Congratulations to Hay Writers’ Circle member, Emma van Woerkom who has a number of poems included in the “Letters for the Sea, Letters for the Land” project from Culture Weston, Weston-super-Mare.

Poems and texts from 18 poets have been selected and placed on the glass partitions of the newly refurbished Victorian seafront shelters, as well as poster boards along Marine Parade and Weston’s long promenade, with more poems due to appear in the coming weeks.

Poem and Photo by Emma van Woerkom ©2022

As Culture Weston writes, “A compelling miscellany of site-specific, word-based artworks, installations and audio works inspired by the sea, coastline, landscape and environment, people and place – to read and enjoy at leisure. 

Seafront shelters, Marine Parade + Poster Boards along the seafront 

Look out to sea and take in contemplative words and reflective sentiments through the windows of the seafront shelters, and upon poster boards along the promenade. Featuring poems and texts by local artists, poets and members of the ‘Chapter One’ and ‘Rhyme Against the Tide’s’ creative writing and poetry slam communities. 

Featuring words by: Lorna Bryce, Sylvia Buckler, Anne Bunn, Ariee, Leonie Hart, Annie Higgs, Sue Hill, Sam Francis, Adam Leppard, Andrew McBride, Alison Mckay, Malcolm Rodgers, Sophie Shepherd, Ade Thomas, Bill Thomas, Emma van Woerkom, Bob Walton, Shobi Warwick.”

Poem and Photo by Emma van Woerkom ©2022

Letters for the Sea, Letters for the Land” from Culture Weston continues throughout the summer at various locations in Weston-super-Mare and is free for everyone to enjoy.
For more information about this project and others from Culture Weston, please click HERE

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Hay Writers – Highly Commended

Following on from the success of our Poetry Competition winners, we are delighted to detail the work of two highly commended entrants.

Many congratulations to Helen Smith for her poem ‘frameless’, and to Mark Bayliss for his poem “Reunited”; both gained honourable mentions from our poetry judge, Dr Jack MacGowan. Their poems and the judge’s comments are listed below.

frameless by Helen Smith

his photo

crouches on the mantlepiece

between orange-scented candles

and a carriage clock

no frame, curling edges

paled by the sun

I remember so little now

memories slipping

river-smooth silk between

shaking fingers

I barely recognise as my own

but I remember the day I birthed him

slick and screeching

sea-blue eyes

that turned, with the years

to shadow

I stagger

to unsteady feet

that carry me, by the tick of the clock

to grasp his face

smooth the dust

that covers long forgotten colours

and the salt sting on my cheek

is nothing but the fog

that rolls in

from the sea

and still it takes the legs

from under me

photo falls to the flame

as I taste the tide

that will surely come, with the moon

to steal his name

from my tongue

Commendation: frameless

“I was struck by frameless and would like to offer it a special commendation for the poignancy it elicits as well as the care that has clearly been taken in its composition. I have a weakness for poems that latch the door closed tight at the end, and this poem is a fine example of how to stick the landing (if the author will excuse such a mixed metaphor).”

Reunited by Mark Bayliss

Made whole, rejuvenated, is this place for real

Ethereal topography, sensory, surreal

Cold and darkness extinguished, sunshine and warmth prevailing

Hard to articulate, inner calm and peace entailing

Happiness and contentment, both partying with my soul

The time’s arrived, relief at last, nothing more to control

Optimism and hope, since discovering my destiny

My confidence undaunted, evident for all to see

I wondered if they’d take me when I knocked on heaven’s door

An open arms acceptance, and a green light to explore

Anticipation, trepidation, questions soon resolved

I’m feeling tranquil, intrigued, and undoubtedly absolved

Sadly, it’s been chaotic, there’s an endless human stream

Of course, no one’s ever ready, to go and ‘join the team’

We know it’s not discerning, and not all of us immune

Waiting, praying, most are hoping, it’s ‘maybe no time soon’

Hints of recognition, old friendly faces they appear

A familiar form emerges, elegantly drawing near

Young, happy, beautiful, unmistakably no other

Decades have passed, yes it’s her, hands reaching out, my mother

Commendation: Reunited

“I would like to offer a special commendation to Reunited for the author’s bravery in tackling rhyming couplets and by and large pulling them off with aplomb. I was also moved by the way plaintiveness slowly but surely becomes comfort across the length of the poem. There is always a timeliness to poems that explore the different and complex qualities of grief, and this poem is certainly no exception.”

If you are asking yourself if it’s good to enter writing competitions, consider this…

“You get noticed, get money (or other prizes), and you can put the win on your writing CV. A deadline and word count are often good motivators to write. You’re often in with a chance to be published. The competitive element can be inspirational.” (quote dystopianstories.com)

If you didn’t win don’t worry, there is often useful feedback given which you can use in the future. Want to try something new? Entering a competition is also a great way to experiment with your form and style.

As the saying goes, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained‘. Why not dip you toe in the competition waters and see where the current takes you.

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Prize Winning Poets and Poems – 2022 Poetry Competition Report

We are delighted to showcase the winning poets and poems of our 2022 Poetry Competition.

Huge congratulations to 1st Prize – Michelle Pearce, 2nd Prize – Jean O’Donoghue and 3rd Prize – Jaz Slade.

1st Place Poem, on reading ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ in 2022 by Michelle Pearce was described by our judge, Dr Jack McGowan as, “a tour de force of careful imagery. Like all good poetry it provokes contemplation, in this case the degree to which the pastoral idyls of the Romantics and late Romantics are dead and gone: unsustainable in a contemporary world of consumer capitalism, climate change, car parks, and species extinction. The fact that it does this in such a contained space, and with such keen ekphrastic understanding, is a testament to the skills of its author. This poem is a worthy winner, and one that has stayed with me long after reading.”

on reading ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ in 2022

Dear John, dear dead boy, fast-fading violet

in your beechen green’s numberless shadows –

yearning for your beakerful of warm South

to purple dying lips, bubbling lungs,

dreaming yourself forgetful with your immortal Bird,

Coleridge’s merry nightingale in

its grove of neglected underwood –

moon-bathing’s plaintive anthem, hawthorn, rose.

We are his countless generations of man,

we your emperor and your clown,

we the hungry ones have trod him down,

tarmacked your beechen green, his underwood,

punched holes in your immortal Bird’s black night, red-listed his lover’s eggless flight.

2nd Prize went to Dream Home by Jean O’Donoghue. Our judge wrote, “Dream Home invites its readers into a memory, deftly articulating a domestic space that is both airily familiar and at the same time intensely personal. It is this tension between the public and the private that powers this poem forward. The final image of tears flooding the house, filling its niches and nooks, neatly captures the sense of the speaker who is half in and half out of a dream. I applaud the author for their care and insightfulness as well as their poetic craft.”

Dream Home

In the calm grey of summer dusk

I sleep

or rather, I think that I am sleeping

or, maybe, dream that I sleep ….

The clock ticks slow and slower

There in the living room dart the shapes of children I once had

in my bed lies the ghost husband

in the garden our dead black cat stalks shadows

The kitchen smells of curry, bacon and cherry and almond cake

All the knives lay safe and pans gleam softly

Through the window the scent of fresh mown grass blows in

and downstairs the washing machine hums ….

There is a soapy necklace in the bath

and an old record plays in the lounge

The record stops.

I wake from the dream

Or,maybe, I dream that I wake

Or, perhaps, I dream that I am sleeping at last …..

My heart yearns for the time of the house

My heart yearns for the time

My heart yearns …..

And, all the long while,

My tears fill the pans on the stove,

     the bath and the sink,

            the shallows of the sofa

                        and the hollows in my bed

And I wish the house “Goodbye”.   

Swooping in to win the 3rd prize, The Journey Home by Jaz Slade.   “The journey home delivers crisp and compelling imagery from the opening simile and refuses to yield to cliché or abstraction,” says our judge. “It skims between thoughts and observations, alighting on rich details: ‘the wet hiss of the wheels’, ‘the low slinging sycamores and bloodless fens’ before bringing the poem to a tidy conclusion. The whole poem has the feeling of authentic, lived life, and demonstrates the author’s keen eye for uncovering moments that are otherwise hidden, delicate, and beautiful.”   

the journey home

your bike is rattling like it’s halfway to the grave.

i am thinking of snow,

the train back home from London after midnight,

your soft leather coat, your nails painted pecan,

the wet hiss of the wheels that dash by us

like they have somewhere to be. in the weeks before,

we would have taken the path through the rye fields,

past the low slinging sycamores and bloodless fens,

but you tell me a story about a friend of a friend

who broke two ribs running from a stranger

in the darkest stretch of the trail, and so we drift together,

slipping under the streetlight

as if it is the shadow of God.

Two poems received commendations from the Judge, Frameless by Helen Smith and Reunited by Mark Bayliss. Both these poems, their Judges comments, as well as the general competition comments from Dr Jack McGowan will follow in a separate article next week.

In addition to her £100 first prize, Michelle Pearce also becomes the inaugural winner of the Hay Poetry Cup. A new award presented annually to the winner of the Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition.

With special thanks to our amazing judge, Dr Jack McGowan, all our winners and to everyone who wrote and submitted their poems. Our 2022 Poetry Competition received the most poems ever and we delighted in each and every entry. Thank you.

Don’t forget to like and follow us here, on Twitter and now on Instagram too!

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Winners Announced for the Hay Poetry Competition 2022

Hot Off The Press!

The winners of the Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition 2022 are as follows :

1st Prize – Michelle Pearce

2nd Prize – Jean O’Donoghue

3rd Prize – Jaz Slade

Congratulations to our winners and to everyone who submitted their work for our judge, Dr Jack McGowan. This year we had the highest number of entries and we must send our sincere thanks to Jack who has had a mammoth task reading and reviewing a slew of poems.

A full competition report will be published here in the coming days, but for now well done everyone!

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com
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‘More Fiya’, including Kandace Siobhan Walker and a Poem by Ange Grunsell

As we take our ease from all the excitement of Hay Festival and stretch out to enjoy a few days of glorious summer weather. The evenings are light, long and balmy, filled with flitting birds and the distant sound of revellers returning home. It’s actually the perfect time to pick up a good book and find an quiet outdoor space in which to enjoy it.

If you lean towards poetry then why not grab a copy of More Fiya : A New Collection of Black British Poetry Editied by Kayo Chingonyi

This important collection includes the work of Kandace Siobhan Walker, who has judged Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition in previous years.

“(This) collection is rich for its array of imagery, lyricism and rhythm which brings to life ancestral homelands throughout the African continent and Caribbean isles while also highlighting what it means to be Black and British in the 21st century … More Fiya serves as a powerful reminder of what is possible when communities are given the opportunity to champion and celebrate themselves outside the confines of homogeneous understanding of poetrics.”
ANDRÉS ORDORICA

It includes work from: Jason Allen-Paisant, Raymond Antrobus, Janette Ayachi, Dean Atta, Malika Booker, Eric Ngalle Charles, Dzifa Benson, Inua Ellams, Samatar Elmi, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Joseph, Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa, Vanessa Kisuule, Rachel Long, Adam Lowe, Nick Makoha, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Momtaza Mehri, Bridget Minamore, Selina Nwulu, Gboyega Odubanjo, Louisa Adjoa Parker, Roger Robinson, Denise Saul, Kim Squirrell, Warsan Shire, Rommi Smith, Yomi Sode, Degna Stone, Keisha Thompson, Kandace Siobhan Walker, Warda Yassin, Belinda Zhawi

More Fiya: A New Collection of Black British Poetry is available at all good bookshops.

A Poem :

The Moon has seen it all Before

Three

leave the warm cacophonous café

mother, daughter and wakeful months-old baby

wander the Bermondsey street pavements

with pram and shawl

dodging the power scooters, the shrieking spritzer gangs, the man with the paper cup held out 

sat on the roadside as darkness falls

we turn into the park and there between

the benches and the tennis courts stands a shocking cherry tree

laden with swinging pom poms of blossoms

still just pink in the gloaming

you lift the crying child out of

the pram’s imprisonment

and holding her high reach above her to 

bounce the blossoms

she lurches and grins and laughs

The moon looks on from behind the blooms

 two drunks on the bench

look on from behind their cans

 two teenage girls stotting by in thigh high skirts look on

at the marvel of a baby wide awake at nine o’clock at night loving her life.  

by Ange Grunsell      

           

And finally – just 2 weeks left to enter our Non Fiction competition with £100.00 first prize.

All the details are on our Competitions page and we would be delighted to receive your entry.

To subscribe, enter your email address in the box below.

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And that’s a wrap!

As another exhilarating Hay Festival draws to a close it’s time to reflect on what an incredibly positive experience this literary machine brings to authors, publishers, books sellers, readers and of course, our own writing group. We are so grateful to the festival for its unwavering support and this amazing opportunity.

For many members performing at our event, it was their first encounter of reading their own work to an audience. After good rehearsals under the careful guidance of our Chair, Jean O’Donoghue and President, Ange Grunsell, everything went very well on the day.

My first visit and I had no idea how well organised it would be. My wife asked me if we would need umbrellas and wellies ala Glasto’ if it rained to get from tent to tent! I said maybe!
I loved every minute. What a privilege to have performed, and alongside such a great bunch of creative friends. 
” Mark Baylis.

Today I read out one of my short stories at our Hay Writer’s Circle event at @hayfestival. I was so nervous! Especially as I had chosen quite a personal piece to read and was last in the group to read. Afterwards someone told me that my story made them cry. It made me feel a bit guilty, but also pleased, as I have recently been working hard on making my reader feel emotion.” Naomi Emmanuelle

Wonderful today everyone. It was a blast.” Shane Anderson.

Hay Festival returns for the Winter Weekend – 23rd – 27th November. Remember, you can watch again on Hay Player.
For more information CLICK HERE

Other news –

At 1.30 pm on the 21st June the winners of the annual Hay Writers Circle Poetry Competition will be announced and details released on the website. A huge thanks for our judge, Dr Jack McGowan, for all his hard work and patience due to the elevated numbers of entries this year. We appreciate it greatly.

Don’t forget there’s still plenty of time to enter our Non Fiction Competition – First prize £100.
For more information and full competition rules please go to our Competitions page.

To subscribe to our quarterly newsletter,
enter your email address in the box below.

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Real Hay-on-Wye Book Launch and Book Signing

Hay Writers’ Circle send a huge congratulations to the outstanding Kate Noakes on the imminent launch of her new book, Real Hay-on-Wye at Hay Festival this coming Sunday. Her latest book combines “memoir, anecdote, social history and arcane facts with subversive wit to provide an affectionate portrait of the town famed for its secondhand shops (and Hay Festival). She describes how it faces the challenges of any small market town, with a rich rural hinterland, and a landscape vying for attention with the best that metropolitan culture has to offer.” Real Hay-on-Wye is the latest in the Seren Real Series of offbeat guides to towns and cities around the UK.

Real Hay-on-Wye is her first non fiction title. Kate was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011, has published seven Poetry Collections and was the judge for the Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition in 2020 naming Emma van Woerkom winner that year.

Kate shares her Hay Festival event (number 369) with Rosie Hayles, who has written the story of one street in Hay seen through history, in a narrative rich in the detail of everyday life, peopled with characters from Norman times up to 1980 when Broad Street had its first two bookshops. Rosie has spent many years collecting stories of those who have lived or worked on Broad Street. FINDING HAY: A JOURNEY UP BROAD STREET They will be interviewed by Tom Bullough.

Tickets are £8.00 each and can be booked by clicking HERE – Book signing afterwards.

It’s also less than 12 hours until our Hay Writers’ Circle event in the Summer House at Hay Festival. We are always so grateful for the continued support the Festival provides and the generosity of our audiences too.

Don’t forget three of our exciting writers, Mark Bayliss, Marianne Rosen and Emma van Woerkom will be signing their books (see below) in the Festival Bookshop straight after the event. Hope to see you there!

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