top of page
Sand Texture

2024 Writing Competition

Poetry and Flash Fiction

Pre-Order Now!

Lines in the Sand - an anthology of poetry & flash fiction caught between the tides and terra firma.

The anthology with all the winners will released on Friday 26th April. Pre-order your copy on Amazon or pick up your copy at the Bookshop, located in the Festival Hub in the Pavilion Dance during the weekend of the Festival.

The cover was designed by Briony Hartley from Goldust Design. Catch her talk "Create a Cover that Sells" on Sunday 28th April at 2:30pm.

£562 raised for Vita Nova

Thanks to the generosity of our entries, we've given 100% of the donations directly to Vita Nova to support their work with recovering addiction writers.

Sharon Coyne, Artistic Director of Vita Nova, said "Vita Nova is delighted to have received the generous sum of  £562 plus free entry to the Flash Fiction and Poetry competition for our creative writing group. Bournemouth Writing Festival is a wonderfully inclusive event that not only celebrates the power of words but the necessity for community."

Vita Nova will be performing at our Showcase Finale event, Writing Home: Stories from the Edge of Print, on Sunday 28th April at 7:30pm. Tickets are based on a Pay-What-You-Can scheme and booking is essential.


Congratulations to the winners of our first poetry and flash fiction competition, who all made it into our first anthology! You can pre-order on Amazon or pick up a discounted copy at the Writing Festival in April!

  1. I Witness Creation by Robin Muers

  2. Cheese Sandwich by Neil Douglas

  3. How the Dressmaker of Bournemouth Feeds her Family by Alice E. Bennett

  4. Ghost Crabs by Laurie Keim

  5. Georgic by Partridge Boswell

  6. Castle by Craig Smith

  7. Woman standing on her bathroom scales by Carol Maxwell

  8. No Matter Which Way the Wind Blows by Charles Kitching

  9. Weather House by Helen Jane Campbell

  10. To My Future Ex-Husband, With Love by Julia Rapp

  11. Where All the Vibrators Go by Tessa Foley

  12. Might Love End Life by Henry Edwards

  13. Paul Klee Said, 'Take a Line for a Walk' by Roger Hare

  14. On Hilbre Island, West Kirby by Helen Kay

  15. Changeling by Helen Chambers

  16. Island Seeker by Antoine Cassar

  17. Body Found on Seafront by Georgina Titmus

  18. A Fishy Tale by David Longstaff

  19. Rising by Joanna Bury

  20. Tango by Michael Pettit

  21. Blue Hospital Gown by Kim Waters

  22. The Crescendo at Blue Beach, Gaza by Elliot Chester

  23. [Untitled] by Dave Martin

  24. Unstuck by Cristín Leach

  25. Harvest of Things by Oonagh Montague

  26. Shaping the World Line by Line by Sharon J. Clark

  27. We Are All Magicians When We Need to Be by Tina M. Edwards

  28. The Silent Highwayman by E.E. Parkhouse

  29. Unholy Sonneyt by Terry O'Brien

  30. Hand in Hand on the Edge by Nicole Durman

  31. The Other Poet Drives a Black Mercedes by Órfhlaith Foyle

  32. Snow Hill to Selfridges by Alan Summers

  33. Ramblers by Sue Norton

  34. St Mary's by Gary Krishna

  35. It Was Seeing the Leading Actor Shaving by Rose Lennard

  36. Môn Mam by Katrina Moinet

  37. Curl and Blacken by Will Gillingham

  38. Between the Kettle and the Stars: a Line in the Sand by John Gallas

  39. Drawn Together by Gareth Leaney

  40. The Scaregull by Josh Thorpe

Longlisted Submissions

  • Alan Summers: Ellipsis Points Allegedly

  • Alan Summers: Snow Hill to Selfridges

  • Alice E. Bennett: How the Dressmaker of Bournemouth Feeds Her Family

  • Andrey Lazarev : Boat-Arrival-Departure

  • Anne Meale: The Igloos of Belligerence

  • Anon: A Guide to Atonement

  • Antoine Cassar: Island Seeker

  • Bradley Harper: Legacy

  • Bronwyn Boehm: Sever

  • C. W. Blackburn: Epektasis

  • Carol Maxwell: Woman Standing on Her Bathroom Scales

  • Cath Barton: Nine and Counting

  • Charles Kitching: No Matter Which Way the Wind Blows

  • Chaucer Cameron: I Hang the Wreck - That Was Our Life

  • Christine Dawson: Floating Home

  • Claire Wyburn: The Place Before Him, Afterwards

  • Cristín Leach: Unstuck

  • Dave Martin: [Untitled]

  • David Longstaff: A Fishy Tale

  • E. E. Parkhouse: The Silent Highwayman

  • Elliot Chester: The Crescendo at Blue Beach, Gaza

  • Emma Phillips: Alice Carries the Moon

  • Eva Makri: First Dates

  • Eve Jackson: This Tote Bag

  • Gareth Leaney: Drawn Together

  • Gary Krishna: Saint Marys

  • Georgina Titmus: Body Found on Seafront

  • Glenn McPherson: Cold Sand Under Warm Sand

  • Heather MacGregor: Sadness

  • Helen Chambers: Changeling

  • Helen Kay: On Hilbre Island, West Kirby

  • Helen Jane Campbell: Weather House

  • Henry Edwards: Might Love End Life

  • James Penha: Across the Sands of Troy

  • Jessica Boatright: When I Was Born With Wings, I Always Knew They Would Be My Undoing

  • Joanna Bury: Rising

  • Jocelyn Boileau: Habits of a Skip-Tracing Poet

  • John Aberdein: Aral (Sea)

  • John Goodby: William Hogarth's Line of Beauty

  • John Gallas: Between the Kettle and the Stars: a Line in the Sand

  • Josh Thorpe: The Scaregull

  • Julia Rapp: To My Future Ex-husband, With Love

  • Katrina Moinet: Môn Mam

  • Kerry Rawlinson: All the Horses of Love

  • Kim Waters: Blue Hospital Gown

  • Laurence Keim: Ghost Crabs

  • Laurence Keim: Her Own Salt

  • Leah Raidt: The Restoration Project

  • Mara Adamitz Scrupe: In the Rotunda

  • Martin Coyne: Cowie

  • Mary-Jane Holmes: Desert Ghazal for Those Walking North

  • Michael Pettit: Tango

  • Neil Smith: Castle

  • Neil Douglas: Cheese Sandwich

  • Nick Black: Love and Other Contraceptives

  • Nicole Durman: Hand in Hand on the Edge

  • Oonagh Montague: Harvest of Things

  • Órfhlaith Foyle: The Other Poet Drives a Black Mercedes

  • P. James Norris: When a Tree Falls…

  • Partridge Boswell: Georgic

  • Partridge Boswell: On Reading Audre Lorde at Annaghmakerrig

  • Partridge Boswell: The Crossing

  • Patricia Lynn Coughlin: Frangible Resilience

  • Rachael Salmon: “If You Are Squeamish, Don’t Prod the Beach Rubble.” Sappho – a Response in Pantoum

  • Rachel Goodman: Storm Tactics - Talbot Heath - 1973

  • Robin Muers: I Witness Creation

  • Robin Wrigley: In Plain Sight

  • Roger Hare: Paul Klee Said, 'Take a Line for a Walk'

  • Rose Lennard: It Was Seeing the Leading Actor Shaving

  • Sharlene Lazin: Eurydicide

  • Sharon Clark: Shaping the World - Line By Line

  • Sue Beckwith: November

  • Sue Spiers: Sidewinder

  • Sue Tangney: The Beach Bar

  • Sue Norton: Ramblers

  • Terry O'Brien: Unholy Sonnet

  • Tessa Foley: Where All the Vibrators Go

  • Tina M. Edwards: We Are All Magicians When We Need to Be

  • Will Gillingham: Curl and Blacken

The Judges

Two lecturers from Arts University Bournemouth will be judging the long-list of entries.

Dithering Chaps Bournemouth Writing Festival competition.png

About Dithering Chaps

We have to admit it - we at Dithering Chaps have found our dream job!  We love to read and, as publishers, we can spend all day doing just that.  We are a small, indie publishing house and get our satisfaction from bringing undiscovered writers to the public's attention. 


Transport us wherever you like - we want to come on the journey with you!   If you'd like to know more about us, please visit our website where you can also sign up to receive news of our forthcoming publications, submissions windows and competitions

What the Judges are looking for

Flash Fiction

A story with a complete plot. A flash fiction is indeed a story with a beginning, middle and end. A sense of movement is important.


A story with strong imagery. The story needs to have vivid, evocative language and sensory details which build emotional resonance.


A story where every word is used resourcefully. 


A powerful title. With so few words, titles can be vital.


Originality and coherence in use of voice and imagery. I'm always interested to see poems which have been carefully placed on the page, so that form and structure play a part in bringing the subject-matter to life. In this way, poems can dance on the page! Hybridity and experimentation are welcomed. I'm hoping to be surprised and challenged in the poems I read: stereotypes challenged, empathy shown in unlikely situations, seeing beauty in the everyday... If a poem speaks to my heart and head in equal measure then it's likely to leave a lasting impression on me.

Terms and Conditions

Bournemouth Writing Festival Competition 2024 - Terms and Conditions of Entry


  • The theme for this writing competition is Lines in the Sand. Each submission should reflect the competition’s theme in some way.

  • The competition is open to both flash fiction and poetry.

  • There will be up to 40 winners.

  • Each flash fiction piece is to be a maximum of 400 words (excluding the title).

  • Each poem is to be a maximum of 30 lines (excluding the title).

  • The competition is open to anyone aged 17 or over, at the time of entering.

  • International entries are welcome but all entries must be in English.

  • The competition begins on 23rd January 2024.

  • The closing date for the competition will be midnight (UK time), 29th February 2024, which is when the payment portal will close.

  • Winners will be notified by 31st March 2024.

  • Winners must make their own travel and accomodation arrangements, and any associated costs, if visiting the festival for the celebration event.

  • All entries will be anonymised on receipt, before the judges see them, and therefore will be judged on their merits alone.

  • The publisher’s editors may suggest alterations to a winning entry, for example, to correct or amend grammar, formatting or spelling. Writers will be given a one-week window in March to approve the proposed changes before publication.

  • Your work will be submitted as an attachment to an email. The attachment should only contain the submitted piece and its title. Please do not identify yourself, either in the submission or in the file name of your document.

  • Every validated entry will be read and considered.

  • The judges’ decision is final and they will not enter into any correspondence.

  • No one connected with the organisation of the competition will be eligible to enter.

  • Entries must be the entrant’s original work.

  • Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media, broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before 28th April 2024.

  • The process for submitting an entry is described fully above.

  • Validation of entries will be carried out by the competition organisers and their decision is final.

  • There is no limit to the number of entries a single entrant can make, but each submission is a seperate £5 fee. Booking fees, processing fees and tax are included in the price.

  • All entrants will receive an email letting them know that their work has been received.

  • The judging panel will comprise Natalie Scott (Poetry) and Charlotte Fodor (Flash Fiction) from Arts University Bournemouth.

  • The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice.

  • There will be up to 40 prize-winners and all aspects of the prize are described in full above. The prizes are non-transferable and non-exchangeable for cash and may be subject to availability.

  • The copyright of each work remains with the author/poet. However, creators of the winning poems or flash fiction, by entering this competition, grant the Bournemouth Writing Festival the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast their flash fiction/poem. Use of the poems elsewhere for one year from April 2024 is subject to permission from the Bournemouth Writing Festival.

  • If you decide to publish or broadcast your work after April 2024, please credit Bournemouth Writing Festival and Dithering Chaps for the initial publication.

bottom of page