Review - GWN Winner's event by Sheila Johnson

The Gloucestershire Writers Network at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

‘East meets West’ was the theme of the 2018 Literature Festival which Gloucestershire writers were asked to interpret. The judges selected this year were short story writer and novelist, Kim Fleet, who judged the prose pieces and Anna Saunders, the CEO of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and author of five poetry collections, who judged the poetry entries. There were two winners in each category and three runners-up in each. The event this year was a total sell-out as an excited audience consisting of the prize-winning participants, their family, friends and fellow writers gathered around tables in the Nook Marquee at 6.30pm on Sunday 7 October.

The prose winner, Emma Kernahan, from Stroud’s piece was entitled ‘The Locals’, an amusing story about a couple relocating from London to the rural west of England. Emma was thrilled to experience her first competition win with this.

David Hale’s winning poem, ‘Cranes Flying’ was about an archaeological dig unearthing a piece of porcelain, “think willow pattern” he instructed us as he began to read.

We then enjoyed three poems from the runners-up, Derek Healy with his poem, ‘Love’s Convergence, Catherine Baker’s poem ‘Waiting for the boat’ - which was read by her friend Maureen Drew in Catherine’s absence – and Marilyn Timms poem, ‘Public School – Private Hell’. Marilyn was a double runner-up, as she also was a runner-up in the prose section with her piece, ‘Bride Price’. Marilyn has been a runner up in the GWN competition four times but still manages to be surprised by her own talent.

“It’s fantastic to be a runner-up,” she said. “You’re hopeful but you never expect it. I’m just very lucky.”

The other two prose pieces were ‘The Shawl’ by Lynda Fowke and ‘Call me Shadi, Muna, Nasima…’ by Iris Anne Lewis, both dealing with the topical subject of displaced people and refugees.

We then had the pleasure of hearing readings from both the judges, Kim and Anna.

Kim read first from her novel, ‘Featherfoot’ set in the Australian outback and then from her novel, ‘Holy Blood’, set in contemporary and past Cheltenham and dealing with the illegal holy relics trade. Kim confessed to us that all her books have something to do with crime and bodies.

Anna’s poems all came from her latest poetry collection published this year, ‘Ghosting for Beginners’.

“The Gloucestershire Writers Network Competition event is a wonderful opportunity for writers in Gloucestershire,” said Penny Howarth, the joint administrator to the organisation along with Chris Hemingway. “We are very grateful to the Cheltenham Literature Festival for hosting us.”

The Gloucestershire Writers’ Network is a non-profit organisation which connects with writers and writing groups across Gloucestershire by providing them with a central platform. The competition follows the theme of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, which like the festival itself, is run annually and is open to all Gloucestershire writers over the age of sixteen.


Review - GWN Winner's event by Howard Timms

GWN honours Gloucestershire Writers at Cheltenham Literature Festival

For any writer it is an honour and privilege to read her or his own creation in the prestigious programme of Cheltenham Literature Festival. That opportunity is provided for a group of outstanding local writers through an annual event by the talented volunteers of Gloucestershire Writers’ Network.

For me, the 2018 event on 7 October provided an excellent and high quality evening’s event. I was proud spouse of one of the seven writers who earned a chance to read after success in a competition which attracted more than 160 entries. I admit a hint of envy, too, as an also-wrote who was honouring the high standard of writing by all the readers on stage.

Sunday’s event started with presentations of prizes to the winner and three runners up of each of two contests – one for short stories, and one for poetry. Then came the readings, extremely varied interpretations of the Literature Festival theme of East meets West.

First up was the winning poet, David Hale from Horsley. His Cranes Flying is an interesting and thoughtful physical discovery of far-eastern culture by a presumably western archaeologist.

The winning prose writer was Emma Kernahan from Stroud. Her story The Locals hilariously contrasts fantasy-driven emails of a woman’s former London commuting with her new, mundane west-country life.

Derek Healy from Lower Swell was first runner-up to read. His poem Love’s Convergence with skilful geographical imagery, shows lovers ‘paralleled two poles . . . apart’ finally embracing each other’s mind.

The Shawl a story by Lynda Fowke from Gloucester, imaginatively features a garment as a refugee. It makes a land and sea journey as a woman’s baggage, a man’s bandage, and finally clothes for toys.

From Tewkesbury, Catherine Baker wrote Waiting for the Boat a poem on old refugee women. ‘Like pinks they can nod’ typifies the imaginative, engaging imagery and music Catherine produces with simple words.

Call me Shadi, Muna, Nasima . . . is an intriguing story by Iris Anne Lewis from Kempsford. After using false names as armour, a young refugee woman finally reveals her real name to a therapist.

Marilyn Timms from Cheltenham was runner-up in both poetry and prose. Her poem Public School – Private Hell starts a train journey in school day dreams, and ends it building the Burma railway as a prisoner of war. With another good final surprise, the story Bride Price shows a Japanese businessman. A widower, he buys a new, western wife, then loses her as ransom for his teenage daughter.

Finally, the two competition judges read some of their own work. Award-winning novelist Dr. Kim Fleet, the judge for stories, read two engaging and suspenseful excerpts from her novels. Then poetry judge Anna Saunders, founder and CEO of Cheltenham Poetry Festival, read thought-provoking and contrasting poems from her latest book Ghosting for Beginners.

After 40 years of earning a reasonable living from writing and editing non-fiction, I admire and respect all of the above writers. The art of creative writing requires more hard work, determination, and talent than reportage or factual reference. I think all of us competitors, and the winners and runners up, owe a great debt of gratitude to the successful creative writers who also find the time and energy to organize GWN.

Howard Timms           9 October 2018

I am working on adding audio of all of the above readings to my blog:

Review - Rediscovering Ovid by Lucia Daramus

How I Rediscovered Ovid Through Mary Beard's Eyes and Through Llewelyn Morgan's Voice

by Lucia Daramus 

    Cheltenham Literary Festival, 2018. Lots of people in love with the books. Lots of literary sections. But, for me the interest is in classics. So, I put myself in a long, long queue. And it is so, so hard for me as a woman with Asperger's Syndrome to stay in a queue to enter the hall. But I am determined to say hello to Professor Mary Beard, and actually to be part of one hour of Latin like in my past, like all of my life as a classicist. Mary Beard read Ovid, Amores, and Professor Llewelyn Morgan read Archpoet (Archipoeta). Actually both of them had statements about Ovid and also Archipoeta.

I will refer here just to Ovid.

Ovid was one of the most prolific Roman poets. He wrote about mythological transformations, about love, about women as lovers, about exile, about sadness, etc. He had and has a strong influence in European art and literature, influencing  Dante Alighieri, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and in contemporaneity influencing Bob Dylan.

Publius Ovidus Naso was born in 43 BCE in Sulmo. He and his brother were educated in Rome. He studied law and politics, but after his brother's death, he chose to travel in Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily. He became a friend with poet Horace. He married three times and he had a daughter.

In 8 BCE the Emperor Augustus exiled Ovid to the city of Tomis (modern-day Constanța – Romania) on the Black Sea, for an unknown political reason or because of his poems.

Ovid himself described the cause  as ''carmen et error'' (a poem and a mistake – Confer. Epistulae ex Ponto)

In this part of the world he wrote because of his sadness, because of loss of his wealthy life, because of melancholy, losing everything, even his ability to express himself because when he arrived at Tomis he did not know the language of the place. That place was a small town in that time, built by Greeks, in the sixth century. This place is for Ovid, when he arrived at Tomis, like an infinite sea – et iterra est altera forma maris and this piece of land (Tomis) seems to be an endless wilderness – mare portibus orbis. But after a while he learns the language of Getae (Gets)  and, it seems, he wrote some poems in this new language. Today these works, unfortunately,  are lost. He also wrote Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, books which remain in the history of Latin literature. These poems are full of sadness and desolation.

It seems that Ovid died at Tomis. But the historians did not find his grave in the land of Tomis. Some literary sources from the Renaissance period talk about a possible grave of Ovid near the gates of the city.

Giovanni Boccaccio suggests that Ovid's grave there is on a island on  Pontus - Sea ( ''Sulmona niun'altra cosa pianse lungamente, se non che l'isola di Ponto tenga incerto il suo Ovidio'' – G. Boccacci , Vita di Dante Aleghieri, Roma, 1884, 43-44 ).

His exile trip begins at Brundisi or Ravenna, in winter time, with strong thunderstorms on the sea. His itinerary is indicated by Ovid himself in Tristia , Elegy number XI.

The Augustus' edict changes the destiny of the poet's life and even the content of his work. Despite of this, we don't know where is in reality his grave, after his death his  fame became glorious all over the world.

In the middle of Ovid's Square in Tomis (Constanta – Romania) there is a very big and beautiful statue of Ovid, realised by Italian sculptor Ettore Ferrari in 1887.

On the funeral stone there is the famous epitaph,  written by Ovid himself in one of his poem:

Hic ego qui iaceo tenerorum lusor amorum

ingenio perii Naso poeta meo

at tibi qui transis ne sit grave quisquis amasti

dicere Nasonis molliter ossa cubent


(''Here I lie, playful composer of tender love stories

Naso the poet ruined by my own genius

but for you, who pass by and have loved, may it

not be hard to say Naso's bones may softly rest'')


But, Ovid's first major work was Amores published between 20 and 16 BCE as a five-book collection. The topic in this poem is love because is a ''sex poem'' according to Mary Beard.  The subjects of this major works are the poet abjures war in favour of love; the poet regrets beating his mistress; the poet compares love and war; the poet confesses that he loves all sorts of women, etc.

The first poem of the collection begins with the word ''arma'' (arms) as in Aeneid of Vergilius.

Ovid intended to write his first collection of poems in dactylic hexameter as an epic poem.

Professor Llewelyn Morgan talks especially about the form of the meter.

''In this poetry important is the metric. The most important consideration with classical poetry is the need to organise in terms of the length of syllables''.

His Amores ( 'The loves' ) represent a collection of erotic poems, based on imaginary or real woman. Even today the scholars speculate about Corinna's identity. The most strong idea is that Corinna could be Julia, the Augustus' daughter.

The poem is a confession which celebrates the promiscuity of lovers.

I will transcribe here just a few fragments from what Mary Beard proposed and read and translated, because she and Llewelyn Morgan suggested some Latin words and expressions as being very interesting for Ovid's poem.


Ovid – 'Amores', 2,4
sive procax aliqua est, capior,  quia  rustica non est,

(''or if forward one is,  I'm hooked, because prudish she is not)

spemque dat   in molli     mobilis   esse   toro.

(and hopes gives on the soft  lithe to be  bed)



illa   placet   gestu      numerosaque bracchia ducit

(that one pleases by movemnent & rhythmic arms she moves)

et tenerum       molli      torquet ab arte latus—

(& her tender with soft she twists skill side – )


The English explication for each Latin word, in brackets, belongs to Mary Beard.

Both Professors have warned us of the word molli. I thought about it. And it is so interesting in the poem, relating with the subject. The poem is not a confession, but it celebrates the promiscuity of lovers. We have a strong expression about the character of the girl -  quia rustica non est.

And after this, Ovid says that type of Sabine intrigues him -  aspera si visa est rigidasque imitata Sabinas. This line is referring to Horace's Ode, where this kind of woman is about the type of moral rigidity.

In this context of Ovid's poems, one of the most interesting word is ''molli''- Ablative, singular.

Mollis (neuter molle ) third declension. Molli , earlier molduis has a Proto-Indo-European origin – moldus (soft, weak), from Proto-Indo-European mel ( soft, tender).

We discover this Indo-European root in some linguistics branches: Old Prussian - ''moldac'', Old Slavonic – 'mladu' , Sanskrit – 'mrdu', old Armenian – 'melk' , and also in ancient Greek βλαδύς – (bladus) – weak .

Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis talks that we also discover the Indo-European root in Romance languages, the children of Latin language:

Old French – mol; middle French -mol ; Proto-Romanian – mole; Romanian – moale; Aromanian – moali; Spanish – muelle ; Old Portuguese – mole; Portuguese – mole; Catalan – moll

What is so, so exciting is that this interesting word is in relation with the same root of mulier (woman).

Lat. mullier from mollior (softer) – comparative of mollis (soft).

The word is kept in Romance language's words which are related with the Latin (Indo-European) root molduis, moldus:

Aromanian – muljari ; Catalan – muller; Romanian – muiere; Istro-Romanian- mulere; Old French – moillier; Italian – moglie ; Old Portuguese – moller; Portuguese – mulher; Spanish – mujer.

What is to say about this, maybe that the softness, the weakness is characteristic to women. But what the Ovid's poems – 'Amores' – transmit? He, Ovid, loves all sorts of women. And , as a final conclusion the term mollis in Ovid's poems has also meaning of ''sexually unrestrained''.

New Bohemian's Summer Party

Dear poetry lovers

We hope you’ll joining us at our Summer Party!
We’ve a fabulous programme of exciting music, a wealth of poetry talent, and an opportunity to share a summer-themed poem of your own at open mic (plus a glass or two of wine).

Winners of the Coleford Festival of Words

Winners of the Coleford Festival of Words 2018 'Ten' themed writing competition
The winners as judged by Forest of Dean resident and author Andrew Taylor, were announced on Saturday 7 July by Baroness Jan Royall at an event as part of the Tenth Coleford Festival of Words.

Congratulations to Julia Bohanna, winner,  Toni Wilde (2nd) and Rebecca Klassen (3rd). Thank you also to Chepstow Bookshop and Dean Writers' Circle for the 1st and 2nd prizes.

Read the ten shortlisted entries in the Festival's online anthology,  which can be found here: Coleford Festival Anthology

Coleford Festival of Words 2018

GWN Prizewinners event

Dear writers - we now have news of the time and date for our prizewinners event at The Times and The Sunday Times Literature Festival - it's scheduled for 6.30 p.m. on Sunday, 7 October 2018.

Please make a note in your diaries to come and support GWN and hear this year's winning entries - you could even take a starring role!

We look forward to receiving more of your prose and poetry entries on the theme of 'East Meets West', closing date 31 July 2018.

See our Competitions page for more information...

Coleford Festival of Words

Coleford Festival of Words 2 – 8 July 

The Coleford Festival of Words programme is now available.  Open the link below and you will be able to download and print a copy:


See also our events section for more details...

Launch of Stroud Book Festival 2018

We are delighted to update you on plans for the Stroud Book Festival 2018, which this year will be held 7 – 11 November - a new note for your diaries.



The festival organisers have also announced three new appointments: Paul McLaughlin as the new Festival Director, Caroline Sanderson as the Artistic Director and Jane Churchill as the Children’s Artistic Director.

The full Festival programme will be revealed this summer, and will include a special event for the prize-winners of the inaugural Stroud Book Festival writing competitions.  There are 3 writing prizes with a deadline for submissions of 31 July 2018.

Full information on the writing competitions can be found here:       


Please also/download see press releases for more information....

Stroud Book Festival 2018

SBF 2018 new appointments

Videos of Stroud Short Stories...

Videos of the authors reading at the 20th May - Stroud Short Stories event 'On Pulling Newts from Ponds & Other Stories'


The Second Stroud Short Stories Anthology, covering the stories from the six events from November 2015 up to, and including, the 20 May event, will be published in the late summer/early autumn.



Stroud Book Festival and Competiton launch

Some new dates for your diary...  The 2018 Stroud Book Festival brings the best in new writing from some of the finest novelists, non-fiction writers, poets, children’s writers and storytellers from Gloucestershire and beyond.

Festival dates:       Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th November 2018

You are invited to visit their web site, sign up for more news and competition details -




There are 3 writing prizes with a deadline for submissions of 31 July 2018:


Mainstream Fiction Prize (open to writers living in Gloucestershire)

Judged by author Katie Fforde

First prize £100 and 5-day writing retreat at Hawkwood College

Entry requirement: Synopsis of up to 200 words plus excerpt of up to 3000 words


Flash Fiction Prize (open to International entries)

Judged by author Sue Limb

First prize £500

Maximum length: 500 words


Poetry Prize (open to international entries)

Judged by poet Adam Horovitz

First prize £500

Maximum length: 40 lines