Category Archives: Writing Competitions

MLF 2011…

13 days +68 events  = the Manchester Literature Festival 2011:

1 lit quiz x 1 literary pub walk = a celebration of the best writing talents

4 competitions + 3 awards   = acclaimed in the city, the UK and beyond

The new Manchester Literature Festival brochure has been unveiled and The Poplar Tree is getting a bit hot under its leaves in anticipation…

The festival is now in its 6th year and continues to blend home-grown talent with acclaimed authors, poets and journalists from across the world. The MLF’s ability to cross cultures, genres and social groups is what makes the festival so unique, and with 22 locations, Manchester becomes both muse and stage for poetry, novels, competitions, awards, tours and theatre.

The MLF began 18 years ago as a small poetry festival organised by Cathy Bolton (Festival Director) and Jon Atkin (Festival Coordinator), who both manage the city-wide event, and the festival is quickly gaining a national reputation for its quality and originality with its eclectic nature separating itself from other literary festivals such as the Bath or Hay.

Every year the MLF is undoubtedly different, but the one question that remains pursed on The Poplar Tree’s lips is; how can it top last year’s Seamus Heaney recital at the Whitworth Hall? Well, where to start… a third of the events showcase international talent so maybe Europe is a good place to start with Nordic crime writers K O Dahl, Thomas Enger and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, or you could be transported across the Atlantic with Cuba’s leading contemporary writer Victor Rodriguez Nunez or Daniel Mordzinski with ‘A Look into the Soul of Spanish American Literature’. You could then take a flight in the imagination with Canada’s award-winning writer Allan Stratton, or if you fancy warmer climes there’s the celebrated South-Asian writers Tahmima Anam and Dipika Rai. Continue reading


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Filed under Books/Novels/Authors, Manchester Literature Festival 2011, Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

Manchester Writing Competitions 2011

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Filed under Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

The Guardian Book Awards 2010

A couple of weeks ago The Poplar Tree attended a meeting at the Deansgate branch of Waterstones to find out more about becoming a judge on the Guardian Book Awards panel. The newspaper asked for members of the public to volunteer as judges and pick out the best new author from a shortlist of 10 books. Around sixty people turned up to the Deansgate branch, which had seven judging places up for grabs. To qualify you had to submit an entry form which included a short review (200 words) of a novel published within the past 12 months. Unfortunately The Poplar Tree wasn’t successful. For anyone who likes Chuck Palahniuk’s work, here is the short review I submitted:

Pygmy is a thirteen-year-old Communist agent hailing from an unknown territory somewhere in Eastern Asia. His homeland is seeking vengeance on America for alleged acts of terrorism, and he is sent on a state mission, while masquerading as a foreign exchange student, to implement ‘Operation Havoc’.

Pygmy doesn’t have the meteoric twist of Palahniuk’s other works such as Fight Club, or the back-to-front ending of Survivor, instead the culmination of Operation Havoc is played out over 20 or so pages of increasingly loose pidgin English. As Palahnuik struggles to collect the strands of his novel together, many unanswered questions remain and,  although this may be typical of Palahnuik’s style, in this instance, the effect sadly distances rather than intrigues the reader. Continue reading

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Elephant Spoon Thieving – The Poplar Tree debuts in print format (online)…but it’s a start

Last week The Poplar Tree submitted a short story to The Summer of Bugged a WordPress blog that asks readers to eavesdrop on conversations and write a piece of literature based upon what is heard. The official rules are that the eavesdropping must take place on July 1st, (for more specific details click on this link: For me, nothing of interest filtered through the air on this day, but I continued to listen out on my commute to work and when I went to the Whetherspoons near Manchester Town Hall for tea (the one with the nice toilets). I heard some interesting and bizarre things, the creme de la creme of which I whipped together in a short story entitled ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving.’ The nice people at Bugged Blog have published the story on their website – it’s great to see my name in ‘print’ again after three  years. So thanks Bugged Blog. ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving’ can be read here: it begins on page 2 of the PDF

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See the post under this one for web links to the competitions

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Filed under Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

Manchester Writing Competitions 2010

As there doesn’t seem to be a central ‘hub’ where this sort of information can be found, The Poplar Tree has collected a few Manchester based writing competition details together which are being held over the coming months.  The Poplar Tree will update  this list on a regular basis as it follows various websites/blogs and independent magazines. Hopefully you will find the following interesting and inspiring: Continue reading

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Filed under Manchester Literature Festival 2010, Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions