The Bedford Competition

If you were intending to enter the 2020 short story or poetry competitions, I am sorry to have to inform you that the entry period has now closed. The number of entries for both competitions has exceeded expectations and we would like to sincerely thank everybody who has submitted a story or poem. We are particularly pleased that the Rainbow Prize attracted so many entries from the over 70 age group meaning that we can make a significant contribution to the Age-UK Covid-19 Emergency Appeal.

We now move into the judging stage and we will be publishing the results in due course.

In the meantime, keep safe and well.

2020 Competition

2020 Competition – Judges

Short Story Competition Judge

Jordan Lees

After graduating with an MA in Literature, Jordan joined The Blair Partnership, literary agents for many renowned authors including J.K. Rowling, in 2016 and was made an Associate Agent in 2020. His reading tastes are wide-ranging and as an agent predominantly represents literary fiction, reading group fiction and crime and thrillers, as well as some non-fiction.

Poetry Competition Judge

Lesley Saunders

Lesley Saunders is the author of several books of poetry, most recently Nominy-Dominy (Two Rivers Press 2018) - 'a feature of this collection is its sheer ease with and celebration of language itself' (Martin Malone, The Interpreter's House). Lesley was joint winner of the inaugural Manchester Poetry Prize and one of the winners of the 2017 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. In 2016, Lesley won the Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation with her English version of a poem by the acclaimed Portuguese poet Maria Teresa Horta; Lesley's latest book, Point of Honour (Two Rivers Press 2019), pays homage to the radical and erotic work of Horta - who celebrated her 82nd birthday in May 2019 - with nearly 100 translated poems. Lesley leads writing workshops and undertakes poetry mentoring; she has performed her work at festivals and on the radio, and worked on collaborative projects and productions with visual artists, musicians, composers and dancers as well as other poets - most recently with Philip Gross in A Part of the Main (Mulfran Press 2018)

Bedford Short Story Prize Judge

Neil Beardmore

In the Nineties Neil won the Sussex Playwrights Award and The Richard Burton Poetry Competition, going on later to take an MA in Creative Writing specialising in Poetry and Novel writing. Two plays Pristine in Blue and A View Of Glass Mountains were professionally performed recently and in 2017 his novel Lemon Seas was published. Neil's poems have appeared in The Cannon's Mouth, Erbacce, Dreamcatcher, The French Literary Review and many other magazines. Having had poetry published in Orbis, he has recently had a short story, Key Notes published in the magazine.

Bedford Poetry Prize Judge

Steve Kendall

Steve Kendall is a graduate of the Newcastle University / Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry. He is a co-host of the Bedford reading series 'Ouse Muse' and convenor of the North Beds and Milton Keynes Stanza. His work has most recently appeared in Strix and Magma.

Young Writers' Short Story Award Judge

Stephen Bywater

Stephen Bywater joined the merchant navy at sixteen before going on to study English at university. After graduating he taught in South and Central America for three years, returning to the UK to complete an MLitt at St Andrews. For the past twenty years he has taught English in Bedford, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of two novels, The Devil's Ark and Night of the Damned (published by Headline/Hachette), and is currently working on his third.

Young Writers' Poetry Award Judge

Cameron Stuart

Cameron Stuart is a poet originally from, and now back residing in, Bedford. He attended the Poetry MFA at Saint Mary's College of California, and has taught writing at SMC and Berkeley. He is the recipient of Judith Butler and Community of Writers scholarships.

Rainbow Short Story Prize Judge

Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell is the author of twenty-one crime novels, including the Geraldine Steel series which has sold over a million books. Shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award, long listed for the CWA Dagger in the Library, she is Chair of the CWA Debut Dagger Judges and Co-ordinator for the CWA Critiques. She was a Finalist for the People's Book Prize, and is a Royal Literary Fellow. Find out more about Leigh from her website.


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