Mslexia Workshop by Fiona Sampson


The Hay Writers were extremely fortunate to have a session provided by Mslexia this week and our guest facilitator was the acclaimed British writer and poet, Fiona Sampson MBE.

We had a very interesting session on writing poetry and Fiona provided some thought-provoking and challenging exercises. All of us, even those who don’t usually write poetry, had a productive afternoon and we all benefited from her enthusiastic guidance.

IMG_20170717_112521Fiona’s latest poetry collection is ‘The Catch‘ (pub. Random House) and she has also recently published a prose essay ‘Limestone Country‘ (pub. Little Toller).

It was a privilege to have the occasion to work with such a distinguished  poet.

Fiona is this year’s Herefordshire Poet in Residence and will be doing several similar sessions throughout the year. These may be arranged through your local library services.

Thank you once again to Fiona and also to Mslexia for their continued support of women writers and for giving our group this fantastic opportunity.

Article – Corinne Harris
Images – Emma van Woerkom

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Sell Out Success at the Hay Festival 2017

Hay Festival 2017 – #Hay30


Happy Anniversary Hay Festival. After thirty extraordinary years we are still feeling the positive literary vibe. This year, during those precious ten days spanning the change from May to June the sun shone, the clouds for the most part, stayed away and crowds of enquiring minds came, enjoyed, joined-in and departed; all promising to return again soon. Folks lapped the locality in shuttle buses, spoke to their favourite authors, discovered new voices and stuffed far too many excellent books into cases for the long journey home.

Our Hay Writers event on the second Saturday of the festival was no less welcoming or enthralling. Thirteen writers, fuelled entirely on coffee took to the stage at 9am in front of a sell-out crowd (we even had to ask for a few more chairs!). Prose, fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry flowed.


After a brief introduction by our Chair, Ange Grunsell, Jan Newton kicked off the readings with the atmospheric prologue from her recently published detective crime drama, Remember No More. The performance concluding with a very apt, non-fiction piece on the habits of a bibliophile by Juliet Foster. In between poetry, short stories (both humorous and startling) found willing ears. There was definitely something for everyone and this sentiment was echoed by the numerous applauses from the crowd.

This year, more than any other, the Hay Festival seemed more colourful, more vibrant and more joyful than ever. Keeping so many people happy and interested year after year is no mean accomplishment.

A huge and special thank you to Peter Florence and the whole Hay Festival team for another brilliant festival. Your continued efforts in supporting and promoting writers, artists and ideas is greatly appreciated.

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2017 Hay Writers’ Poetry Competition Winners

Poetry Competition 2017

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Pens and pencils at attention – quick to crack a deft dimension.

We had a record number of entries from Hay Writers members for this year’s poetry competition, which was judged by the well- known prize winning poet and novelist, Chris Meredith.  Chris gave encouraging attention and mention to many of the poems which were very varied in form and content:

‘ I’ve read and reread the poems with interest and growing enjoyment. Every piece has something going for it and the best are well – achieved and impressive.’

Chris highlighted the benefits of trying out demanding forms such as pantoum …as a couple of entries did….as well as shapes on the page.

The winners :

1st   Jean O’Donoghue       Remembrance

2nd   Jan Newton               The Horse Whisperer

3rd   Corinne Harris           1940

Congratulations to our worthy winners and many thanks to Chris Meredith for judging.
For more information about Chris and his many publications –  CLICK HERE


hay festival 2017Don’t forget you can see many of our members performing at Hay Festival –  event number 513 – 9am on Saturday 3rd June in the aptly named Scribbler’s Hut.

Our performance includes a variety of styles and genres. So if you fancy a cocktail of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose, serious, humorous or a bit of everything, we’ll have something to delight at the bargain price of just £5.30 per ticket.


Several of our members are published or prize-winning writers in their own right and for the last couple of years our tickets have sold-out!

So don’t delay CLICK HERE  and order yours today.

Hope to see you there.

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Hay Writer Makes Saboteur Award Shortlist 2017.

SHORTLIST – Saboteur Award 2017

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Congratulations to Hay Writers’ member Emma van Woerkom, whose latest poetry collection, FOUND ME, has been shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet 2017. The awards ceremony will take place in London on the 13th May.

found me photo hay1wye“Sabotage is representative of the hugely diverse amount of work being made and written in the ‘literary ecology’. We stand for inclusiveness and commitment to new voices in literature.” the Sabotage Review.

‘In poetry, if the stale old hierarchies – page v stage, artist v critic, establishment v avant-garde – are crumbling, it’s because of the work encouraged by Sabotage.’ — Susannah Herbert, director of the Forward Prizes and National Poetry Day.

Check out the Sabotage Review on all the pamphlets shortlisted – CLICK HERE

The winners are determined by public vote, and if you would like to vote for Emma all you need do is click the link below and follow the prompts. Voting closes 30/04/2017. CLICK HERE TO VOTE 

Find out more about Emma and her work via the website.

More About The Publication.

FOUND ME is a collection of blackout poems, including accompanying images which Emma ‘discovered’ in the Hay Festival programme 2016.

Emma says, (the) “Hay Festival never fails to inspire and motivate me. As a poet and a member of the Hay Writers’ Circle I yearly set a self-styled Hay Festival Challenge to accomplish during the ten day span the festival is in its home town of Hay-on-Wye.

the mountain blackout poemIn 2016 something new. I decided to use the Hay Festival programme as my sole source material and attempt to discover a-poem-a-day. To make it more difficult I only used one page per day and the words in order, as they appeared on that page. Perhaps Blackout Poetry in its purest form. Looking back, I think I must have been mad, but I succeeded – ten poems ‘reawakened’ in ten days.”

But why publish? 

“I’ve decided to publish these poems in a pamphlet to encourage others to have a go at Blackout Poetry, also and more importantly, I’d like to help raise money to keep
Hay-on-Wye Public Library open and professionally staffed.

This means at least £1.00 from each copy sold will be given in donation to help maintain this valuable community library.”

F O U N D  M E  by Emma van Woerkom is published by Read Fox Books.
ISBN – 9780993256455    Price – £3.00 per copy (+p&p)
Available in Hay-on-Wye Library or online at Amazon UK.
Click here to order via Amazon

found me covers-page-001 (1)

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Hay Festival 2017

Getting Ready For #HAY30

hay festival 2017Congratulations to the Hay Festival for reaching its thirty year milestone. #Hay30 takes place from 26th May to 4th June in its home town of Hay-on-Wye and hosts another incredible calendar of events.

In March this year Director of Hay Festival, Peter Florence said: “For 30 years Hay Festival has brought readers and writers together to share stories and ideas, to imagine the world – to tell our truths and renew our lives. We’ve seen the world move from paper to the digital realm, we’ve witnessed boundaries and languages shift, and vast migrations of people and money. We trust writers and the authority of the published word. We love stories and we love to throw a party. Please join us.”

To find out more about what’s on at Hay Festival as well as their exciting #Hay30 projects go direct to the website –

Continuing on the ‘30’ theme an additional 30p has been added to the price of each ticket. Hay Festival will be donating this direct to Hay-on-Wye Public Library. Threatened with the possibility of slashed opening hours, loss of professional staff and eventual closure, the people of Hay, HOWLs (Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters) have rallied to the cause and so have Hay Festival with this very generous gesture.

The Hay Writers’ at Hay Festival 2017.
Catch us Live!

Of course we are extremely fortunate to receive support from Hay Festival too. This year our group are event number 513 – 9am on Saturday 3rd June in the aptly named Scribbler’s Hut.

Our performance includes a variety of styles and genres. So if you fancy a cocktail of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose, serious, humorous or a bit of both we’ll have something to delight at the bargain price of just £5.30 per ticket. Several of our members are published or prize-winning writers in their own right and for the last couple of years our tickets have sold-out!

So don’t delay CLICK HERE  and order yours today.

Hope to see you there.

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jan book merv picJan Newton’s much anticipated debut crime novel Remember No More enjoyed it’s official book launch recently at the Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells; complete with a fanfare from a brass band!

Jan was taken by complete surprise as the packed room delighted in this live music spectacle. Everyone then joined in with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to the author, whose birthday it had been the day before. There were definitely some very fine Welsh voices in the audience that night!

Once all was settled Jan read excerpts from her detective drama, answering a few questions before the photographs and book signings began.

Everyone looked absolutely thrilled to be at this event. I mean, what could be better than books, brass bands and a brilliant birthday cake!

Since it’s launch, less than two weeks ago, Remember No More has received many excellent 5 star reviews and is steadily making it’s way up the best seller lists.

Currently it is Wales Book Of The Month April 2017 – CLICK HERE for article 


ORDER YOUR COPY NOW – Remember No More by Jan Newton
Available at all good bookshops – £8.99 – ISBN – 978-1909983564  – Published by Honno Press.
Online via Amazon as a Paperback or Kindle Edition – CLICK HERE



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Hay Writer – Jan Newton Book Review!

Remember No More by Jan Newton – “Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s desire for a different life takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a clean slate for them both. On her first day at her new police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of an investigation into a suspicious death in a remote farming community.”

via Cracking Celtic Crime Noir – Book Review — Emma van Woerkom ~ Poet

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Debut Detective Novel Launch

With these wintry evenings still long and dark, there is absolutely nothing like curling up on the sofa and enjoying a well written, sharply observed detective story, especially if it is set in darkest mid-Wales. So do we have a recommendation for you!

Hay Writers’ member, Jan Newton is literally weeks away from launching her debut detective novel, Remember No More – D S Kite mystery.


Jan is no stranger to excellent writing or story telling, she has won several competitions, including the Allen Raine Short Story competition, the WI Lady Denman Cup, and the Oriel Davis Gallery competition. She has also appeared in the New Welsh Review.

She secured her book deal with award winning Honno Press and Remember No More is their first publishing venture together.

About The Book


Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day in her new job, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.

The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those of her new community and the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families.

Honno – Wales Book of the Month: April 2017
Pages : 302 – ISBN: 9781909983564 – Price : £8.99 (Kindle £4.00)
Release Date : April 2017 – Paperback & Kindle

CLICK HERE to pre-order your copy via Amazon


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Three Incredible Years

All Change

September arrives and marks the change of season. Gone are those long, languid but brilliant days of summer and into the foreground the harvest comes, bringing darkening evenings which hang quietly on the brink of frost and trees curling their russet-trimmed leaves.


Juliet Foster at Hay Festival 2016

This year September also brings a change in chairperson for the Hay Writers’. For the last three years Juliet Foster has pushed our writing, consolidated our competitions (securing some world-class literary judges in the process), edited our anthology Pick and Mix, and with regimented practices, honed performances for both Hay Festival and our Christmas Concerts.

At our recent annual Summer Lunch, Hay Writers’ President Frances Copping thanked Juliet for all her hard work. Frances also thanked Juliet’s husband Philip, whose behind-the-scenes reliable assistance was greatly appreciated by all.



It seems fitting that Juliet won the 2016 Richard Booth Prize for Non-Fiction and we hope this will prove a superb incentive to complete her book, which she had placed second to her Chairperson responsibilities.

Thank you Juliet and Philip.

Wishing much success to  Angela Grunsell who takes over as the new Hay Writers’ Chairperson.

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Winners Announced!

On the hottest day of the year (so far), it was delightful to see Richard and Hope Booth present the prizes for the Richard Booth Prize for Non-Fiction 2016.


Dan Davies, winner of Gordon Burn Prize 2015

This years competition judge was Dan Davies –

Winner of the 2015 Gordon Burn Prize (pictured)
and the 2015 CWA Non-Fiction Dagger.

Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the James Tait Black Prize.

“Dan Davies has been a journalist and editor for 20 years, writing for The Guardian, The Independent, The Mail on Sunday and The Economist, among many other publications. He is currently Deputy Editor of Esquire.”
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd. Literary Agents.

Photo c/o


1st place
Change of Heart by Juliet Foster

“I really liked this story for the way it plunges the reader into a
situation where one is unsure of what is happening, uncertain about
who the protagonists are and curious about what will happen next. From
the outset, the dialogue is wrong footing; it sets the pace and
compels the reader forwards into the story. The writing placed me into
this village, and among the characters that populate it — including
the narrator. The twist heart breaking, and made me want to read to
more. Intriguing and poignant.” Dan Davies (judge)

2nd place
Meeting George by Jo Jones

“The opening line in this story is wonderful, and immediately pulled me
in with its sense of time and place. The mystery of how two people
make a connection in the unlikeliest of circumstances is powerful, and
the writing made me want to learn more about where this relationship
went, and what happened to these two individuals whose lives, I hoped,
went on to become entwined after such an inauspicious start. Rich and
textured.” Dan Davies (judge)

3rd place
Base Camp by Emma van Woerkom

“This short story contains some really wonderful descriptive writing
that afforded me a sensory tour of the shop. Lines that I particularly
liked included  ‘meagre with an unmistakable hint of godless damp’ and
‘A large, glass cased heron, incarcerated sometime during the
Edwardian era and still gazing through his glazed eyes for the fish he
has waited almost one hundred years to catch’. The latter,
particularly, tells the reader everything he/she needs to know.
Stylistically excellent.” Dan Davies (judge)

Thank you to Richard and Hope Booth for their support and prizes, and to Dan Davies for being the 2016 non fiction competition judge.

Many Congratulations to the 2016 winner, Juliet Foster and runner’s-up Jo Jones and Emma van Woerkom, as well as everyone who submitted work for consideration.


Richard & Hope Booth (centre) Juliet Foster (far left) Philip Foster (far right)

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