The Gloucestershire Writers’ Network runs an annual competition supported by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, for anyone living, working or studying in Gloucestershire (including South Gloucestershire) to submit poems and prose pieces based on a different theme chosen each year.

Gloucestershire Writers’ Network 2019 Competition

Supported by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

To mark the Cheltenham Literature Festival’s 70th anniversary, poems and prose pieces are invited on the theme of:


You may interpret the theme as imaginatively as you’d like. Look at our How to Get Started page for more inspiration. 

Poetry judge:

Stephen Daniels

More info

Prose judge:

Amanda Reynolds

More info

First prize: £200 in each category
Runners up: 3 runners up in each category will receive a book token
All prize-winners to read their work at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on 6th October 2019

Closing date: Midnight, 14 July 2019

Entry fees: £3.50 per poem/prose piece, £6 two entries, £8 three entries

Rules of entry:

1. Entrants must be 16 years old or over and living, working or studying in Gloucestershire (including South Gloucestershire).

2. Entry fees: £3.50 for 1 entry, £6 for 2 entries, £8 for 3 entries.

3. Poems and prose pieces must be on the theme of NUMBERS. You may interpret the theme as imaginatively as you like. Please give your entry a title that is different from the competition theme.

4. Entries must be identified only by title. Do not put your name on your entry.

5. To enter by post: download an entry form from our website or send a covering letter containing name, phone number, address, email address and titles of the poems/prose pieces entered. Send two copies of each entry to: GWN Competition Administrator, c/o 76 Horsefair Street, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Glos. GL53 8JH.
Please ensure you put the right value of stamps according to the size of envelope.

6. To enter online: go to our enter page. Pay through PayPal or post a cheque to the Competition Administrator (address above), payable to Gloucestershire Writers’ Network.

7. Poems: no more than 50 lines.

8. Prose pieces: use double spacing, no more than 750 words.

9. Entries must be typed on A4 paper in a standard font e.g. Arial 12 point.

10. No amendments can be made to your work once submitted. We are unable to enter into correspondence.

11. Entries must not have been published online or in print.

12. Winners and runners up will be notified by mid-August. If you cannot be reached by end of August your work will be withdrawn. Results will be posted on the GWN website. Copyright of entries remains with the author but the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network reserves the right to publish in print or online.

13. lf you are selected but cannot read your work at the event it will be withdrawn unless you can provide a substitute reader.

2017 & 2018 Competition Pamphlets

If you’re interested in reading the work from 2017 and 2018 winners and runners-up, you can buy pamphlets for £2 each or £4 for both (postage included). Click the relevant button below to purchase.

Please let us know if you would like it posted to a different address than the one on your PayPal, by emailing details to

With thanks to our Sponsors:

We are grateful to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for their support of local writers and for creating the opportunity for the winners and the runners-up of our annual competition to showcase their work at the GWN event.

We would like to thank Liggy Webb for her generous sponsorship of our annual competition.

We would also like to thank Helene Hewett of The Suffolk Anthology for her continued support of our competition.

Competition 2018 Results

We are delighted to announce the results of the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network Competition 2018 on The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival’s theme of ‘East meets West’. The judges had a hard time selecting the winners out of over 160 entries. We would like to thank our judges, Kim Fleet and Anna Saunders, and all those who entered the competition for their support of the GWN. Our congratulations to the winners, runners up, and those commended. Read some reviews of the Literature Festival Event on 7th October 2018.

Winning Prose Piece

‘The Locals’ by Emma Kernahan, Stroud

Prose Runners-up

‘The Shawl’ by Lynda Fowke, Gloucester
‘Call me Shadi, Muna, Nasima’ by Iris Anne Lewis, Kempsford
‘Bride Price’ by Marilyn Timms, Cheltenham

Prose Commended

‘In Loco Parentis’ by Ali Bacon, Emersons Green
‘Zugzwang, 1963’ by Joanna Campbell, Bisley
‘Freewheeling’ by Kathy O’Grady, Stroud

Winning Poem

‘Cranes Flying’ by David Hale, Horsley

Poetry Runners-up

‘Waiting for the Boat’ by Catherine Baker, Tewkesbury
‘Love’s Convergence’ by Derek Healy, Lower Swell
‘Public School – Private Hell’ by Marilyn Timms, Cheltenham

Poetry Commended

‘Dancing on the Equator’ by Frances March, Stroud
‘Checkmate’ by Samantha Pearce, Newent
‘The Taste of Bear’ by Johnny Porter, Cheltenham

Emma KernahanProse Prize Winner

Emma Kernahan

‘I entered the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network competition because I saw a poster for it in Stroud and loved the idea of reading at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

After a career in the voluntary sector, I started writing two years ago, while at home with my children. Initially I thought I had no time to be creative, but began writing poetry on my phone while the kids were napping or playing.
From there I branched out into blogging, short stories and flash fiction, which I’ve found are a good fit with the demands of working and parenting. I have been greatly supported in this by amazing writer friends, both online and at my local writing group.

It was because of their encouragement that I submitted my piece on the theme of East Meets West, and I’m enormously glad that I did. I enjoy writing funny stories most of all, and it was wonderful to discover that other people enjoyed this one. I was mostly just relieved that the audience laughed! Writing is a solitary business, so meeting a whole new group of talented people at the event was a huge boost to morale. I find I am now writing with new confidence and a flurry of ideas.

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t so far to join the network and submit to the competition, especially those who are new to writing, or who think that they are not the kind of person who reads at literary festivals! Support networks like this are an incredible resource, and I feel very grateful to the GWN for the time and hard work they put into running the event.’

David HalePoetry Prize winner

David Hale

‘I was thrilled when I found out that I had won the GWN poetry competition. I had never won a single poem competition before, and being a local competition made it particularly special.

The poem I submitted on the theme of East meets West was written after a morning spent in the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, and was originally meant to be included in a publication celebrating the museum’s artefacts, a project, which unfortunately never got off the ground.

The poem came into being after I spent a number of hours studying certain pieces in the museum’s collection which I became rather fascinated by. Fortuitously, a few days later I turned up a piece of Willow pattern crockery while digging in my vegetable garden. These two factors collided and produced the necessary sparks, the result being ‘Cranes Flying”.

I am so glad this poem has now found a worthy resting place in the beautifully produced GWN competition pamphlet, and that I had a chance to read it at the Literature Festival which was a wonderful and friendly event, and one I would recommend to all Gloucestershire writers.’