Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Hastings Literary Festival is back

Hastings Literary Festival, founded in 2018 with Sir David Hare as patron, was just gaining momentum when it was called off last year due to Covid restrictions. Inevitably, due to restrictions, the Festival will be smaller and in fewer venues. However, the festival is back and raring to go. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths was keen to know more about their planned activities.

Where possible, some literary threads have been picked up from last year. Over the last few years, the Hastings Literary group has been working with the Detention Centre at Gatwick as part of Support Refugees. Three authors will talk about their stories. Monique Roffey has been in conversation with the Literary Festival Organisers since last year. Fortuitously, she was already committed to the Festival, as her stock rose high as the recent winner of the Costa Book of the year award with The Mermaid of Black Conch. She will be in conversation with Martin Robinson about masculinity and femininity. They are anticipating the discussion will develop into a free, fair and wide-ranging discussion on sexuality.

However, their main concern at present is a one-off quick turnaround writing competition. It will be a one-off, due to the extraordinary year we have just had: extraordinary and inconceivable in one breath. Inspired by topical writing such as Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, Olivia Laing’s Crudo and Hastings Young Writers published Lockdown anthology, Full Stop, Festival organisers are launching a competition of poetry, short stories and life writing with the aim of writing about very recent times, published 48 hours later.


Entries can be a mix of fiction and life writing, expressed through poetry or prose. They should be inspired by local, national or international events happening after April 2021.   The competition is open not only to local writers but to anyone, in the UK or internationally.

Prose writers should submit up to 1,000 words to the competition, poets 25-40 lines. All entrants are asked to submit a 200-word synopsis with their ideas and what they would like to achieve. Entries, as works in progress, are to be submitted by midnight on 31 July.

From these entries twelve writers will be chosen during the week of 16 August, after which they can polish their work before attending a workshop on 23 September under the auspices of experienced editors to complete their pieces to a professional standard, ready for the printers.  For prose, the maximum word count for the final, published version is 2,000 words, for poetry a maximum line limit of 40. Prizes of £100 will be awarded to three winners on the day.

The resulting anthology Dateline Hastings: 23-09-21 will be launched just 48 hours later on 25 September by leading playwright and Hastings Literary Festival patron Sir David Hare.


There are very specific rules about the way the work should be presented. For instance, they should be sent in anonymously. Written pieces over the word count will be disqualified.  Do read the rules. It would be a shame if precious, crafted words were disqualified.

To enter

The competition deadline is midnight on July 31, 2021. The entry fee is £10 per entry – up to a maximum of four entries per person.  Your email  – to – should include your name, telephone number and a brief biography. Full details of rules and how to enter are here.

Due to funding by the Magdalen and Lasher Trust,  a limited number of bursaries are on offer to cover entry fees for those currently unemployed or on a low income. Please email  with details if you wish to be considered for a bursary.

The Hastings Literary Festival is from 23-25 September. Events will be held at the KinoTeatr, 43-49 Norman Road, Hastings, GB TN38 0EQ

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Posted 14:21 Wednesday, Jul 14, 2021 In: Literature

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