Paul Henry To Judge 2019 Poetry Competition

The Hay Writers’ Circle 2019 Poetry Competition –
Judge Announced 

We are delighted to confirm that the poet Paul Henry will be our judge for the 2019 Poetry Competition.

Paul Henry, By Zed Nelson
Paul Henry
 is the author of nine books of verse. Originally a songwriter, he has performed his poems and songs at literary and music festivals in Europe, Asia and the USA. A popular Creative Writing tutor, he’s presented arts programmes for BBC Radio Wales, Radio 3 and Radio 4.

The Glass Aisle

Published by Seren in the early Spring

“This haunting, elegiac collection, about music, and made of music, leaves a reader’s mind full of phrases, in both senses – verbal, and tonal – and exactitudes that catch the heart and lodge in the memory” Gillian Clarke

Boy Running

Shortlisted for ‘Wales Book of the Year 2016’ 

“Henry is working at the core of lyric poetry, with love and loss and the ‘deeper river’. The Poetry Review

The Brittle Sea

“Henry’s poems are often expressionistic, even symbolist … with formal skill and time and space-bending panache to boot. The new, previously unpublished poems… represent the best work of a lyric poet who deserves a wider readership.” The TLS


The Deadline for The Hay Writers’ Circle Poetry Competition 2019 is Tuesday 19th March.  Results will be announced in April.

The Poetry competition is sponsored by The Hay Writers’ Circle with prizes for first, second and third places.

Entry Requirements:

  1. Each poem should be a maximum of forty lines.
  2. Print your entry in Arial Font 12, double spaced.
  3. Put your title at the beginning of the entry.
  4. Number your pages and secure them together firmly.
  5. Your name must NOT appear on your entry.
  6. Each entry requires a booking form.
  7. Put your name, title and contact details on the booking form only.
  8. Each applicant may submit up to four poems.

Email and paper entries are accepted, email is preferred. Please attach your entry as a word doc to the email, not in the body of the email itself.

The results are final, and correspondence will not be entered into over the results. All applicants shall be informed of the results.

The winning pieces shall be published on our website with the author’s permission. Publication may prevent eligibility for future competitions. All rights remain with the author.

If paying by BACS payment please make sure your payment is received, with your name on the reference, before the 19th March. Cheques will be accepted on the 19th March but must clear to validate the entry.

Download your entry form here –  Poetry 2019 Competition booking form

Good Luck!

pens image

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“Some years’ ago, a friend told me this rather strange tale…” by Ann Riviere

Long time Hay Writers’ Circle member, Ann Riviere pens an illusive short story for January 2019. 

cobweb on hay church gate

Some years’ ago, a friend told me this rather strange tale.   She told me it was true, but I wonder?

“It was a bitterly cold morning, frost lay on the bare branches of the trees which lined the lane to the church.   It had fallen to her to prepare the monthly services but the one that started at 8.15am was the most arduous, particularly in the winter.    Owing to the frail state of the church’s electrical wiring, the six wall heaters had to be turned on one by one with an interval of several minutes in between.   This was the only way that would make it bearable for the small congregation who would, hopefully be stoic enough to attend the service so early in the morning.   The same timing had to be applied to the lights.

Thus it was, that day, as my friend approached the church, about 7.30, she noticed a bicycle propped up against the lych-gate.   She thought it odd as the only house further up the lane whose occupants she knew, would have had no need to leave a bicycle there.

She pushed open the heavy door – the church was never locked – and felt for the first of the switches, the light casting shadows over the interior.   At the same moment a head appeared  from about half way down the aisle.   She nearly jumped out of her skin.  Through the gloom a body rose up.    She managed to blurt out:
“Who are you, what do you think you are doing?”
A man’s voice answered:
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you, I just needed somewhere to sleep for the night.   It’s so cold outside.”

She switched on two more of the lights, praying they wouldn’t overload the system, plunging them both in to total darkness.    Once she could see him more clearly, she realised he was not a tramp, in fact he was quite well-dressed, clean and with rather a beautiful smile.   He spoke with a soft, well-educated voice.
“That must be your bike at the gate?”
He nodded.   My friend suggested he might like to stay for the service and remain afterwards, if he wished.

Having recovered from her initial fright and realising he meant her no harm, she began to feel rather sorry for him.   What could have happened to have brought him to the state of having to ‘squat’ for the night.   He seemed to her that he was in need of a good meal and offered to bring him some food and a hot drink once she was free.   He refused, saying he would find some breakfast later.  She would liked to have talked with him,  perhaps found out something about himself but she had things to attend to.

She left him and went in to the Vestry to turn on the heaters and collect the items for the Communion.   By the time she had everything she needed and went out to the Chancel to prepare the altar, he was gone.    He had taken such belongings as he had, leaving behind only an unfamiliar smell which my friend thought must be a drug, of sorts.

She said she had thought about him sometimes and hoped he had managed to get his life back together.

Some months passed and while reading her newspaper, she noticed a piece about an elderly couple who had been brutally murdered in a village somewhere in the North.   It seemed their son had been arrested and was being held in custody.   When the case opened, the Court Artist’s illustration of the suspect looked uncannily like the man she had found that day in the church.   Yet it couldn’t have been him.

The drawing was of a scruffy looking individual, unshaven, gaunt with staring eyes.    She made a point of watching for the time when the case would be reported in full and when there would be a ”mug” shot. There was no doubt about it and the date when the killing had taken place was the day after my friend had found him asleep in the church.

skull grave london

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Seasons Greetings from the Hay Writers

Wishing all our wonderful website readers in 49 countries across the globe the very best of Seasonal Greetings from the beautiful Kingdom of Hay-on-Wye.

Here’s a little frivolous Christmas fun which we hope raises a smile.


Partridge in a Pear Tree
by Emma van Woerkom

There are so many tales about Christmas,
It’s hard to know quite where to start.
Do reindeer really pull Santa
Sky-high on a gift-laden cart?

Are the elves who make all our presents
In Norway or from the North Pole?
And if you’ve been bad, does Black Peter
Steal me to Spain or give coal?

So this year I’d decided to prove one,
Splicing fact from quaint fantasy.
A season for stalking, in orchards eye-hawking
For a partridge in a pear tree.

Yep, birds in bushes – not rocket science.
A woodcock, a dove or a crow,
Blue tits, tree-creepers and night jars,
Wrens warbling in stereo.

But these partridge are thwarting my twitching
Re-legged or grey, I don’t care.
Their lives seem covert, ever quick to subvert,
I can’t spot the blighters anywhere.

The closest I came was last Tuesday.
Small and round, golden-brown, could it be?!
I squint and I try, frenzied to identify
My partridge in a pear tree.

My mind whirls but tries to stay focused.
It might be an owl or a gull?
Maybe a fat squirrel named Nigel,
Or a misplaced parcel from Hull.

I suppose by some chance it’s a pheasant,
Next-doors cat with a smug Cheshire grin,
A balloon or a ball, simply too close to call,
Perhaps a decoy partridge manikin?!

So I crept on all fours like a ninja,
Round trees, through grass, under sheep
Then popped up like a meerkat on telly
Or a teen when a mobile goes beep.

And there, perching stately, my quarry.
Mostly round, golden-brown….tangerine?
Not quite the partridge I’d hoped for
But a pumpkin from last Halloween.

“Dash that bird!” I declare. “I’ve been luckless.
Curse it all; tales, talk, mystery!”
Disappointed I blow, somewhere close by I know
Smirks that partridge in his pear tree.

So, this Christmas I relish the knowledge,
That myths, like reindeer can go fly.
Sitting snug at my table, quoting pure fact not fable
That breast is always better than thigh”.



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Jean O’Donoghue’s “Big Issue” a Gripping Gothic Tale Of Our Times.

by Jean O’Donoghue

An Epigraph

Dear Reader

I am setting down this tale for you, exactly as it was told to me. My name is Canon Archibald Stanley and I am a retired Rural Dean from Kent. I trust that  this will satisfy you as to my reliability and that you may give full credence to what I will relate.

First-class-carriages-are-008On a chilly evening in November, I was making my way on the four o’clock train from Victoria towards my home in Hove. Whenever I am at Victoria I am in a good mood as I like its ecclesiastical proportions and its enigmatic sense of the unexpected. I settled myself comfortably into an empty First Class carriage. As we pulled out of the station, I turned my attention to Peake’s Commentary on the Bible. It was a handsome leather-bound edition that I had picked up for a song in Cecil Court.

 At Croydon, a young man got onto the train. He appeared flustered and somewhat unkempt. I was surprised when he sat down in the seat opposite to me. I suspected that he did not have a First Class ticket. This young man seemed to be looking at my clerical collar, but then he abruptly closed his eyes and fell fast asleep.

Whilst he slept, I had the opportunity to study him more closely. He was, I estimated, around twenty-two years of age. His face was paper-white and his eyebrows inscribed raven arcs above his closed eyes. The flesh between his eyebrows was puckered as if, even within his sleep, he was troubled. His nose was unremarkable, but his lips were a startling cherry red, such as I  never encounter within my circle of lady churchgoers. The young man had not shaved that day, and not for several days. His clothes were black, and his face was partially cowled by what I believe is termed “a hoodie”. Combined with his pale complexion, my fanciful gaze pictured him as an aesthetic young monk, persecuted by thoughts of an unwarranted nature. His clothes showed signs of wear and dusty marks. His hands lay in his lap and I noted grime beneath his ragged nails. For all that, there arose in me an unbidden and almost physical attraction toward him. I really am not that sort of person.

As the train drew into Croydon it jolted and the man was shaken awake. He looked at me with startled stainless steel eyes, like a wolf or a husky has. He began to speak.

“Are you a minister of religion?” he asked. “Can I talk to you about what troubles me?”

I was a little put out by this rude disturbance of my reading, and I am after all retired. But priesthood is a life-long vocation and I could not ignore my calling. I have often been commended by the Bishop for my inclusive approach to pastoral duties. In addition, I could not deny the strange attraction that I felt towards him. So, closing my book and folding it away under my hands I sat waiting and attentive, ready to offer what help I could. To encourage him, I leaned forward and gently touched his knee to reassure him, while nodding that he should go ahead. His knee felt wraith-like beneath his flimsy trousers. And so he began his extraordinary story.

As soon as I returned home to Mrs Stanley, around 5.30 pm, I put down the whole of this account in writing just as I heard it from him. I wrote in longhand using my Mont Blanc pen which was given to me by grateful parishioners on my retirement. I like to feel that I have a good hand, and I chose a special leather-bound notebook which I had picked up cheaply in a flea market some years before. Mrs Stanley says that I am very old-fashioned.

The Young Man’s Tale.

“ I live in Croydon and work at a big bank in the City. I have been there since leaving school. I am just an admin assistant and it’s not much of a job. I live by myself in a small flat and don’t see many people outside of work. I visit my widowed mother in Crawley at the weekends and usually have Sunday lunch with her. Sometimes I go to the cinema with an old friend from school. I have

tried going to the local camera club a couple of times, but everyone was older than me and my heart was not in it.

I used to sleep very well. I always have the same dream. There is a house, a big old house. I go to the house and it always feels familiar to me. I walk the empty rooms and shout out loud and my voice echoes back to me. The house feels huge with scores of rooms but I never see the whole of the house and I never see it from the outside. There are many dark corridors with closed doors that I have not explored. Sometimes I hear the tapping of a branch against a window, or the hoot of an owl outside. There are tendrils of dark green ivy encroaching through some of the windows, and the dusty curtains billow out from a gentle breeze. I have always woken from this dream feeling peaceful and collected. It is as if the rooms hold a desperately familiar sense of belonging that is as accustomed to me as my own bed. Or that is how it was until a few weeks back, until one morning in late October.

floor-length-mirrors-mirror-floorIn my dream that night I had walked into a ground floor room that I had not seen before. There was nothing in the room save for a very large mirror in a battered gilded frame. This hung haphazardly on the wall opposite the window. The mirror was taller than I am and was as wide as my arm span, with tarnished glass through which you could see the silvered backing peeling off. As I went up to the mirror and smiled at my reflection, I heard the shriek of a vixen outside and in the same moment a torrent of hailstones battered the windows. These noises startled me and I turned to look out of the window. There was nothing to see, the night was clear and calm with a full moon hanging in the sky though it struck me as odd that I could not make out the cheery features of the man in the moon. Then, turning back to the mirror, I caught sight of a shadowy head that had appeared in the glass. Its face was obscured and within a few seconds it had vanished. I was not really sure that I had seen anything. Then I looked for my own image in the murk of the glass but my head was not reflected back to me. Then I woke up, not with the usual sense of peace and harmony but with a chill and a shiver.

When I arrived at work that morning, I had the usual chat with Doreen and Sheila who share my section of the office. Gary from Despatch butted into the conversation, as he always did. We talked about dreams. Sheila said mine was about identity and that I should “get a life”. She told us about a dream she had had involving an encounter with members of the Congolese army. It had not ended well for her. Gary talked about his wet dreams until we shut him up. Doreen sat and listened while she filed her nails and smiled.

The day passed slowly. Oddly, when lunchtime came, the sun was shining and it was hot outside. The four of us ate our sandwiches on the small patch of grass that squeezed into the narrow gap between the office blocks. Through the railings we could see the tube station, the passers by and the stooped back of a Big Issue seller by the steps down to the tube.

“I have never seen him before,” said Sheila, the words muffled because she was eating cake. “I bet he’s not as nice as that young red-haired chap that used to be there. He was fit.”

Doreen said that she would never give money to Big Issue sellers because, “It’s a crap magazine and they are all illegal immigrants from Romania.” She turned back to her Daily Mail.

Gary ventured his opinion, too. “They all have BMWs at home. I saw it on the telly.”

By the end of the day I had forgotten about my dream and felt in a good mood. That was why, when I saw the new Big Issue seller I decided to give him something. I would not buy the paper, which now cost £2.50, since that is a lot of money for a thin magazine and anyway I agree with Doreen about its quality. As I approached him the seller looked up and I was distracted by the intensity of his stare. His black eyes seemed to have no depth to them, and while looking towards me he was not really looking at me. As I moved toward him, I felt in my pocket for change but found that I did not have more than thirty pence.  It would be an insult to give him that so I smiled and said, “I will be back. I‘ll get some change.” He said nothing and seemed to look through me even more. “Sod him,” I thought as I ran down the stairs to use my Oyster card. As I went down the stairs I seemed to hear the shrill squeak of a bat behind me, but when I looked around the Big Issue seller had gone.

On a whim, I decided to get off at Oxford Circus and look around one of the big stores. Perhaps I would have more of a life if I bought some new clothes. As I wound my way through the lavatorial corridors of the tube station I came across a sort of crossroads in the passageways. Seated on the ground was a small woman wearing a bright flowery head scarf. I could not see her face fully as she was bending down over a small accordion on which she played abrasive notes with two fingers. Suddenly it was as if all the other rushing passengers melted away and I was alone with her. She did not look up but stretched out both hands. Her sharp dirty nails nearly touched me. I felt frozen, as if the brief moment were lasting for hours. All of a sudden, her tuneless dirge transformed itself into a gutsy mazurka, even though she was not touching the keys. Puzzled, I shrugged and moved on.

Oxford-Street     I found shopping for clothes in Oxford Street a dispiriting task. Exasperated, and in a frustrated rush, I bought the first thing my hand alighted on in Top Man. This was an expensive orange sweater with an impenetrable logo that did not suit me. Fed up and weary, I picked up my carrier bag and turned towards Marble Arch station in order to make my way to Victoria. At the mainline station I found that I had twenty-four minutes to wait before the next train to Croydon, and I shuffled from foot to foot impatiently as I stared at the departures board as if that would hurry it up. At Victoria, you can never know which platform the trains will go from so I hedged my bets by standing between the two most commonly used ones. I badly wanted to get a seat on the train as I was tired from my shopping, and had had enough of the day.

As I stood there, my head in a sort of irritated reverie, I felt a tap on my back. Turning, I found a woman holding out a bundle that looked like a baby or small child swaddled in a washed-out pink blanket. The woman had long black hair which was held back by a flowery woollen scarf. I noticed that one of her eyes was a startling bright green, the other a nondescript chestnut. She scowled at me, and asked harshly, “Money for my baby? No food.”

I shook my head “No” and edged away along the concourse. She pursued me for a few yards, walking alongside me and repeating the same words over and over. Her clever face grew darker and darker. I outpaced her but she kept up her whining. When I stopped to send her off with a few choice words I found that she had disappeared and I could not see her anywhere as I scanned the concourse from left to right. My train was still fifteen minutes away from departure. I felt that I needed to go to the lavatory before catching the train, and I calculated that I would just have time to get to the gents and back. So I made my way to the dark archway that led onto Victoria Street. As I passed through it, I spotted a dark bundle of clothes on the right of the walkway. On looking more closely, I recognised the woman and her baby. Something made me say, “Hullo, how are you?” This time she smiled ingratiatingly and asked, “Would you like to see my little girl?” I could see long blond curls escaping from the blanket which lay over the baby’s head, and I felt drawn to see what sort of child the woman’s bundle contained. The mother encouraged me, “Look, go on. She is pretty – yes?” And with this, she slowly drew back the blanket.

The curls were pretty enough. But the face I saw had no eyes, no nose, no lips. It was like a puffy oversized thumb with hair on the top. Or like a ghastly huge white featureless potato. This baby had no face at all.

Since that night, I have dreamt the same dream many times. I am in the large dark house again. Each time I look into the gilded mirror and each time there appears the faceless head of the child, in place of my own. I imagine it is looking at me, blaming me. I feel this though there is no expression to read from the absent features. Every night I wake up screaming in the early hours and I spend the remainder of the hours of darkness trying to calm myself by making tea and watching TV.

This week that has just passed, I have found that I cannot even catch a short nap within the warmth of my own bed. I have taken to sleeping in an old armchair in my kitchen where I turn the radio up loud. It does no good. The dream haunts me there as well.

I am very tired and I have become distracted at work. Doreen and Sheila say that I need a tonic and should see my doctor. They say that I am becoming very scruffy and when I ask them to come out for lunch they say yes but then they make excuses and say they are not free. I get the feeling that they no longer like sitting next to me and the other day Doreen would not lend me her calculator. Gary just laughs at me and calls me “Sick Carrot Boy” because of my orange sweater. None of them know how desperate I am feeling. That is why it was good to sit near you, Vicar. I felt I could catch a little sleep sitting here. I thought I might sleep safely because you’re a vicar.”

Canon Stanley

“And what, dear boy, are you going to do?” I asked of the young man when he at last paused. He had recounted all this in a breathless and pressured manner and I had not interrupted him. I considered that as a churchman I was obliged to offer what comfort I could once he had concluded his appalling story. He looked so weary that I felt sorry for him. He then told me what he would do, and the reasoning behind it. I listened intently and leaned forward to hear him as he replied in exhausted yet excited tones.

“I have decided to run away. Even sleeping here, next to you, and lulled to sleep by the movement of the train I have had that dream again. The dream terrifies me more and more each time. I have decided that I must go to Australia. This will put distance between me and the horrors within my head. In Australia, there will be daytime when it is night-time here. The things that persecute me at night are English and so must keep English hours. It is in the southern hemisphere that I will find relief. And I will find a camp of Aborigine people who will help me with their magic should that baby come back.”

After telling me this he forthwith rushed to get off the train at Gatwick, our next station stop. I had not time to answer him. At the door he uncouthly pushed past six commuters who were neatly queuing, in their smart city suits, to get off the train. They were all, men and women, outraged and vocal in their protests, but such was his insistent jostling that they had to let him through. The young man had no luggage. His dishevelled appearance, his reckless burst of speed and the continued echoes of outrage from our train caused a brief pause in the sedate commotion of the station as other scurrying passengers stared to look. I watched the young man running at break neck speed along the platform towards the connecting train to Heathrow. The Heathrow train was ready to go and about to move off. As the guard blew on his whistle the young man hauled himself aboard a first class carriage. The guard crossly slammed the door shut behind him.

images blurred train
As the train pulled out, my young man turned to look at me from the corridor window. I waved towards him, half regretful at our parting and half relieved at last to go back to my reading.


The jarring sound of the Heathrow train made me look up again. As I watched, his train inched away from the lights of the station and into the deep twilight of Surrey. My young friend was still looking through the train window.

My heart lurched within me as I saw his face and registered that the raven brows, his lupine eyes and those carmine lips had transformed into a blank and awful facelessness.

The end

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Flocking To A Good Cause – Watch The Birdie Anthology Published — Emma van Woerkom ~ Poet

Watch The Birdie : Poems with something to squawk about.
For The 67 Birds On The R.S.P.B. Red List.

For those of you, like me, who have been gripped by the BBC Wildlife series Dynasties, it’s very difficult to ignore our species’ impact upon the natural world, even here in the UK. Back in […]

via Flocking To A Good Cause – Watch The Birdie Anthology Published — Emma van Woerkom ~ Poet

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Review of Hay Writers’ Circle Fiction Workshop

Review of Hay Writers’ Circle Fiction Workshop, October 2018

Article by Alan Oberman, 18/11/2018

According to its participants, the 2018 Hay Writers’ Fiction Workshop was a huge success. I have taken part in a handful of creative writing workshops all, without exception, enjoyable. They shared a common structure, examining theme, plot, character, style, beginnings, middles, endings.

Salmon_Peter-detailPeter Salmon, leader of the Hay Writers’ workshop, had none of that. He set out to liberate us. His slogan – THERE ARE NO RULES. His message – when we abandon the reins that set our writing along a predetermined path, we will arrive in unfamiliar country of which we had no prior knowledge. Let the mind free and it will roam wherever it will.

He sets us to write with the instruction that at no time is the pen to cease moving across the page. I find this laughable. My writing process involves staring out of the window for an inordinately long time attempting to define what I want to say and then staring at the page struggling to find the most appropriate words to express my thoughts. I commence the task and within seconds find Peter’s eyes upon me admonishing me that my pen is not moving. OK, I thought to myself, if the instruction is to write a flow of drivel, drivel is what he’ll get. And that’s what he got, except…somehow it worked. The story you create takes you to places and situations of which you had no prior thought. Accept no rules, says Peter, that inhibit and confine one’s imagination.

Then, having got us to write on that topic for ten minutes, Peter calls on us to wrench the story into a new direction. Try it for yourself. Take a sentence at random from any book. Here’s an example you could use: “She lifted the back-door latch but something obstructed the door preventing it from opening as freely as it always did.” Using your sentence as opener, write for ten minutes without pause for thought, with the pen flowing continuously. Then (don’t look now!) insert the sentence you’ll find at the end of this review and take ten minutes more to conclude the story.

Through the day, listening to what each participant made of the various tasks was a pleasure and how different were our stories.

the coffee story


Peter Salmon is author of the highly entertaining novel, The Coffee Story, as rich and dark as coffee itself. He left us with one final instruction – spend ten minutes every day, letting the pen take you to worlds you never thought you might imagine. Well done Hay Writers for organising this workshop.

It was at that moment that my grandmother exploded.

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A Piece for November – ‘Butter’ by Angela Grunsell


‘Butter’ by Angela Grunsell

QBB read the brand on the label, long before people talked about branding, although they did refer to brands in those days: Marmite, Mc Vities, Manbre and Garton. {The last produced sugar crystal lumps for after dinner coffee}. In the 1950s one of the children was given the Harrods list and asked to phone the Harrods night staff on Tuesday evenings, each week, so as to catch the Wednesday delivery.

h1891 showbag - q.b.b. ghee clarified butter (1)

Q.B.B. (est. 1925) advertising bag from the collection of Queensland Museum.

QBB, the butter marketing board, Brisbane, produced this tin. A map of Australia in gold on the side, pinpointed Brisbane on the coast. By the time of the move in the 1980s it had sat on the shelf, together with another one for forty years odd. It was a little dented, perhaps from its original journey, but the shiny gold lettering, on the discreet yellow and dark green tin, was undimmed. Take a quick look and it seemed no older than those alongside it.

QBB, butter concentrate for hot climates, had stood by the family, unassuming modest, heavier in weight than the 12oz net claimed for its contents. Nobody remembered any longer who had sent it or how it had arrived in the worst winter of the war, when food was short; but the consolation of receiving this gift, was the way it spoke of other British people on the far side of the world being in touch, getting through. Its existence on the shelf made ordinary things like breakfast remain in reach: solid, reliable, practical, a dairy product with a long life that could be called upon if needed.

Mother died twenty years after the house move. She died as quietly as she had lived, reserved, undemanding, a reliable backdrop to her childrens lives, always there to call upon, until she wasn’t.

The tin, never opened, is no longer on the food shelf, but it got left behind. Now 70 years after the end of the war, the two tins exist as artefacts, museum pieces. For the children, now old themselves their tin reminds them of the stone stairs, the larder, the old house and mother.


The ‘One’ of the two remaining tins.

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2018 Fiction Competition – Judge Announced – Sue Limb

The Hay Writers’ Circle 2018 Fiction Competition –
Judge Announced

We are delighted to confirm that the author Sue Limb will be our judge for the 2018 Fiction Competition.

Sue Limb.
sue limb photo

Sue Limb’s professional writing career began immediately after escaping from the Ministry of Education, Sue wrote ‘Up the Garden Path’ – the story of a teacher whose private life is an absolute disgrace. It was adapted for radio and became a TV series starring Imelda Staunton. Later Sue wrote a column for The Guardian newspaper called ‘Dulcie Domum’s Bad Housekeeping’ about a writer whose private life was an absolute disgrace. Just to prove she could tackle other kinds of story, she co-authored a biography of the Antarctic hero Captain Oates.

Writing for young people has always been a big part of Sue’s working life, mainly because she still doesn’t feel grown up. In recent years she’s produced the Jess Jordan books and re-visited her early childhood in the Ruby Rogers series. Occasionally Sue draws inspiration from classic literature, producing affectionate parodies of great writers she admires (such as The Wordsmiths at Gorsemere, a radio series celebrating the eccentricity of the Romantic poets).

sue-limb-pack-4-books-79134-p[ekm]300x300[ekm]Sue is also a regular humorous columnist for Good Housekeeping and currently occupies the court jester’s corner in Cotswold Life magazine.

She lives in a wild, rocky and remote part of Gloucestershire, on a farm, and when not writing she likes to be out of doors messing about with plants and animals.

For more information on Sue’s books, please CLICK HERE


Gloomsbury – a literary comedy by Sue Limb parodying the arty and adulterous adventures of the Bloomsbury Group is currently being aired on Radio 4 on Fridays at 11.30am.   CLICK HERE

The Hay Writers 2018 Fiction Competition 

Rules and Entries

The Fiction competition is sponsored by The Hay Writers’ Circle with prizes for first, second and third places.

The closing date for entries is Tuesday 20th November. Results will be announced in late December.

Word count for this competition is 600 words minimum and 1250 words maximum. The theme is entirely open.

Please print your entry in Arial Font 12, double spaced.

Your name must NOT appear on your entry. Please put your name, title and contact details on the booking form only.

Please put your title at the beginning of the entry. Please number your pages and secure them together firmly.

Each applicant may submit a maximum of two entries.

The results are final and correspondence will not be entered into over the results. All applicants shall be informed of the results.

The winning pieces shall be published on our website with the author’s permission. Publication may prevent eligibility for future competitions. All rights remain with the author.

£5.00 per entry. If paying by BACS payment please make sure your payment is received, with your name on the reference, before the 20th November. Cheques will be accepted on the 20th November but must clear to validate the entry.

To download the entry form please use this link  Fiction Competition booking form

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Autumn and Creative Countryside — Emma van Woerkom ~ Poet

Autumn Bears Fruit. Well, we’ve hit that perfect time of year when Autumn looks more burnished and bright than ever. Today the sun is suddenly clear and warm, the wind has slightly eased, and all those abundant turning leaves shimmer and wave from their tree-top homes. By next week the weather and wind will have changed, […]

via Autumn and Creative Countryside — Emma van Woerkom ~ Poet

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Catching the Tale – WRITING WORKSHOP

Catching the Tale – 2018 Fiction Workshop

Hay Writers’ Circle are delighted to present a fiction workshop on Saturday 27th October, with writer and workshop leader Peter Salmon.

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Peter Salmon’s first novel, The Coffee Story (Sceptre, 2011), was a New Statesman Book of the Year, and his second, Blue Roses, will be published in September 2018. He is currently working on a book about Jacques Derrida for Verso Press, entitled An Event Perhaps, which is due out in 2019. He has written frequently for Australian TV and radio and for broadsheets including the Guardian, the New Humanist, the Tablet and the Sydney Review of Books. He has received Writer’s Awards from the Arts Council of England and the Arts Council of Victoria, Australia.  Formerly Centre Director of the John Osborne/The Hurst Arvon Centre (2006-2012), he also teaches creative writing, most recently at Pembroke College Cambridge, the University of Tallinn and Liverpool John Moores University.

There are few pleasures greater than writing – inventing characters, stories and scenarios and watching them grow into something that you didn’t expect. Whether it is a short story, prose poem or novel, the thrill of getting it right is unique and can be breath-taking.

In this fun and intensive course, I will help you move from the ideas in your head to getting them on the page, and from getting them on the page to making them sing.

Salmon_Peter-detailWith exercises covering plot, character development, the art of description and dialogue, I will work with the skills you already have, and let you find new ways of going on. With a strong emphasis on learning by doing, I will get you putting pen to page in a convivial and supportive environment.

Whether you have an idea burning inside you to get out, or you are waiting for the right one to come along, this course will set you on the path to achieving your goals as a writer, whatever they may be.

Oh, but do make sure you bring your pens and paper, or your laptop. You have writing to do.

The workshop is suitable for all levels of writers who want to explore their fiction ideas.

This workshop will be presented in the modern and comfortable facility of Cusop Hall, situated just on the outskirts of Hay on Wye. Suitable for disabled users, within walking distance from Hay and with excellent on-site parking. Please arrive from 9.45am as the day will begin promptly at 10am with an introduction to Peter Salmon and move swiftly into productive writing. We will break for morning refreshments and lunch. At 4pm we shall finish for afternoon coffee and cake. Included in the cost for the workshop is the chance to enter your work in our annual Fiction competition. Our competitions are judged by external, highly acclaimed writers and offer the chance for valuable feedback. This year’s competition deadline is the 20th November, with a word count of 1,250 words, and an open theme.

To best accommodate individual dietary requirements we ask that you bring your own lunch. The venue has kitchen facilities including a microwave, but not an oven, if you need to use them. Hot and cold drinks will be available throughout the day. Biscuits and afternoon cake are provided so please inform us when booking if you have any allergies.

Saturday 27th October 2018

10am until 4pm

At Cusop Hall, Hay on Wye, HR3 5RW

£35 per person

Numbers are limited and booking is ESSENTIAL.

Course reference: Fiction 003

Contact : Marianne Rosen to book your place:


Phone or text: 07967 454322

Or complete the booking form attached, with the reference: Fiction 003


To find out more about our workshop leader please visit his website:

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