The Bedford Competition

We are pleased to announce that the paperback version of the anthology is now available and can be obtained from Ostrich Books and all good bookshops. Please allow 3 to 5 days for delivery from when you place the order.

For those of you who prefer an ebook, the anthology is also available from Amazon. Click on Anthology e-book

If you have not already entered the poetry or short story competitions, there is still time. This year, net proceeds are going to Schoolreaders a charity that helps schoolchildren 'catch up' with their reading, and The King's Arms Project that supports the homeless.

This year could be your chance to win the first prize of £1000.

The standard entry fee is £7.50 per story or poem. If you enter three at a time, it will be £15. Students are charged at the reduced rate of £5 per story or poem or £10 for three at the same time.

By entering either the short story or poetry competition you may be eligible for other prizes as well. We will once again award an additional prize to young writers for the best story and poem entered by those in the age group 17 to 25 years. This award is called the Cygnature Prize.

Also entrants who reside in Bedford will automatically be entered for the Bedford Prize of £100 for the story and poem judged best.

If you are eligible for either of the above awards, then your story or poem, in addition to being entered in the main competition, will automatically be considered for the additional prizes.

Please be sure to read the rules before entering.

To enter click on Competition in the menu bar at the top of this page and select either Story or Poem. You will be given the choice between continuing to enter online or downloading a printable form to be completed offline and sent in by post.

The closing date is 31st October 2021

and so you still have a few weeks left to enter.

Good luck to all who enter and thank you for your support.

2021 Competition

2021 Competition – Judges

Short Story Competition Judge

Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness is a poet and novelist, and Professor of French at the University of Oxford. His first novel, The Last Hundred Days (2011), was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Writers Club First Novel Award, and winner of the Writers Guild Award for Fiction and the Wales Book of the Year. In French, it was shortlisted for both the Prix Meedicis étranger and the Priz Fémina étranger, and won the Prix de la librairie Millepages and the Premier Roman étranger.

Poetry Competition Judge

Anne Berkeley

Anne Berkeley's poems have been published widely and have won prizes in many competitions including the Times Literary Supplement, Arvon, Kent & Sussex. Her first collection The Men from Praga (Salt) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize. She has performed round England and Wales and in New York with the poetry ensemble The Joy of Six. She edited Rebecca Elson's acclaimed posthumous collection A Responsibility to Awe, now re-issued as a Carcanet Classic.


Bedford Short Story Prize

Guy Russell

Guy Russell was born in Chatham, UK, and has been a holiday courier, purchasing clerk, media analyst and fan-heater production operative. He currently works in Milton Keynes for the Open University. Work in No Spider Harmed (Arachne Press), Somewhere This Way (Fiction Desk), Brace (Comma Press), To Hull And Back 2018, Madame Morte (Black Shuck), Northern Stories vol. 3 (Arc), Troubles Swapped For Something Fresh (Salt), The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse (Iron), Liars League, The Rialto, The Interpreter's House and elsewhere. Competition first prizes: HE Bates Award; Leicester Poetry Society; Ware Sonnet Prize; Cannon Sonnet or Not; Flash500. He occasionally reviews for Tears in the Fence and its blog.

Bedford Poetry Prize Judge

Simon Wrigley

Simon taught English in secondary schools (1973-1994) before becoming chair of the national association (NATE) 2004-2006. He advised on English teaching in schools in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, 1994-2013. In 2009, he co-founded and directed a national project for writing teachers: National Writing Project. He co-wrote Introducing Teachers' Writing Groups, published by Routledge in 2015. From 2019 - 2021 he is serving on the Young Poets Stories Advisory Board as part of poetry writing development research led by Exeter and Nottingham Trent Universities. He runs a community writing group in Bedford, paints and sells his artwork to raise money for local charity:
Simon Wrigley Artwork

Cygnature Short Story Prize Judge

Katherine Mezzacappa

Katherine Mezzacappa is Irish but now lives in Carrara, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea. She writes mainly historical fiction on the themes of love and culture clash. Writing as Katie Hutton, she is the author of The Gypsy Bride (2020) and The Gypsy's Daughter (2021), published by Bonnier Zaffre. Her first novel under her own name, Giulia of the Albizzi, is in press with Impress Books.

Katherine's short fiction has been published by The Copperfield Review, Ireland's Own, Erotic Review, Me First, Asymmetry, Ariel Chart, Turnpike Review, Yours and My Weekly and in anthologies. She also writes romance under the pseudonym Kate Zarrelli (eXtasy Books). Her stories have been shortlisted in competitions by The Writers and Artists Yearbook and The Fiction Desk, and longlisted for the 2018 Colm Tóibín Short Story Award and in 2019 for the Dorothy Dunnett prize. She has also published academically in the field of 19th century ephemeral illustrated fiction, and in management theory.

Whilst Katherine currently earns a living in management consultancy, which pays the bills but doesn't nourish the soul, she has in the past been a museum curator, library assistant, lecturer in History of Art, sewing machinist and geriatric care assistant. In her spare time she volunteers with a second-hand book charity of which she is a founder member. She has two teenage sons and a husband who fortunately enjoys cooking.

Katherine is a member of the Irish Writers Centre, Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann, the Irish Writers Union, the Society of Authors, the Historical Writers' Association, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, and reviews for Historical Novel Review. She is a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Canterbury Christ Church University, and is represented by Annette Green Authors' Agency.


Cygnature Poetry Prize 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.

2020 Videos of the awards

For the results of the 2020 competitions go to Archive


Follow Us