Saturday, 31 October 2009


After 18 months as Newham Writer in Residence the time has come to seek pastures new... or better said, return to the old career and a matter of a couple of plays and a new movie script.

I've had a wonderful time in Newham, working with library staff and aspirant writers in a vibrant and rich borough brimming with tons of potential. Although I shall miss the day to day involvement, I will not totally disappear from the landscape and will occasionally be found loitering with intent, so to speak.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody I had grace to work with in the borough, be they a writer, library assistant or manager, the Over 60's men and women on the A Picture Paints a Thousand Words project, all those who took part in the Changing Face writing Competition and all the workshops and events over the last year.

I wish you all the best in the future.

Mark Norfolk

For further information on creative writing events taking place in Newham courtesy of Spread the Word, please contact or check out the website

Thursday, 17 September 2009


The Gods of Literature were well and truly focused on Newham on Saturday 12th September, particularly on Stratford Library where not only were we blessed with stunningly glorious weather, but more than 200 people showed up to the awards ceremony for the Changing Face Newham Writing Competition.

As Newham writer in Residence, I, along with poetry judge, Charlie Dark, Short Play judge, Georgia Fitch and Short Story judge, Maureen Duffy welcomed Councillor Corbett (left) from Newham council, who wished all the winners well as they received medals, trophies and cash prizes for their literary efforts.

Maureen Duffy as ALCS President, spoke about writing and copyright on behalf of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, recounting the exceptional work they do on behalf of writers, and I must say it was indeed a pleasure to have the support of the ALCS who were the kind sponsors of the young people's awards which meant every entrant under 21 received a leather-bound notebook.

We were also blessed with sublime performances from local poets Marc Seetal, Samuel Jimah and Holli Wood as well as readings from some of the winners. Highlights for me were 7 year old Dise Ockri overwhelmed at winning the short story prize in the Primary School section, 79 year old Lillian Rabey receiving a commendation and 88 year old Sheila Madge Lee winning a prize in the poetry section; the shock on Klaudija Visockyte's face on picking up a 2nd award for poetry and the same for Annette du Plessis grabbing a 1st, 3rd and commended prizes in poetry and short story followed by whoops of joy for Julian Hilaire as he won the poetry 1st prize.

The full lineup of winners is listed below with some of the winning poetry entries published below them. if you want to see a comprehensive catalogue of photographs of the event courtesy of Camilla at Spread the Word, check out:

Also don't forget for further information on events and literature opportunities in Newham email and for info on opportunities across London and beyond go to

So until we meet again under the great oak tree... Tally Ho!
Newham Writing Competition 2009 Results

1st Prize
Julian Hilaire - Newham is Proud

2nd Prize
Jacqui Durand - That Battle
3rd Prize
Elaine Baker - I have seen

Commended Koel Mukherjee


1st Prize
Piotr Ambrozik - I Do Not Know But I Do Know
2nd Prize
Joshua Brian - I Do Not Know But I Do Know
3rd Prize
Jamie Brooks - I Do Not Know But I Do Know

Commended Simran Dovedi, Joe Young

1st Prize

Rida Hasan - Changing Face

2nd Prize
Fahima Khanum - The New Building
3rd Prize
Klaudija Viscockyte - The Changing Face

Commended Ann Adesolabomi, Oluwatunmise Daniels, Akil Job Omari

UNDER 21 Category

1st Prize
Natasha Mwansa - The Changing Face

2nd Prize
Sophia Mahmood - The Changing Face
3rd Prize
Shuhena Bhanu - The Ghostly Face of Newham

POETRY OVER 60'S Category
1st Prize

Gordon Kirkley - The Changing Face

2nd Prize
Janet O’BrienHurdler’s Dream
3rd Prize
Sheila Madge Lee - A Morning In The Park
Commended Lilian Rabey


1st Prize
Annette du Plessis - Hopeless Homeless

2nd Prize
Barry Freedom Taylor - The Changing Face
3rd Prize
Klaudia Visockyte - The Changing Face


1st Prize
Sylvester Onwordi - Galleon’s Reach

2nd Prize
Joy Stone - Changing Places
3rd Prize
Colette Fleming - Nellie

Commended Jacqueline Applebee, Annette du Plessis

1st Prize
Dise Ockri - The Changing Face

2nd Prize
Grace Raji - The Changing Face


1st Prize
Irsalan Ahmed - The Greenway

2nd Prize
Sherena Hamilton - The Changing Face Of Hope
3rd prize
Afrida Alam - Envisioning Glory
Commended Billy Tonks, Zeenat Abdoolwahed
UNDER 21 Category
Joint 1st Prize =
Zele Huma Butt - Aurora Borealis-The Lady Aiken
Remya Unnithan - Tom Cruise’s Diary

OVER 60'S Category
1st Prize
Alan Lancaster - A Face In The Mud

2nd Prize
Trevor Hadley - The Wallet
3rd Prize
Christine Edwards - Rose’s First Telegram
Commended Carol Price, Cynthia Adejayan

1st Prize
Sandra Nam - A Day in Newham

2nd Prize
Rajagopalan Giridharan - From East With Glory
3rd Prize
Annette du Plessis - Forgotten
Commended Chiedza Penelope Mwandiambira


1st Prize
Annette KamaraThe 104 Bus Stop

2nd Prize
Clive PowerHollow The Leader
3rd Prize
Paula DavidSecond Chance
Commended Deb Scott-Lovric

Congratulations to all the winners and everyone who took part in this, Newham's first ever borough-wide creative writing competition for residents and those who work or study in the borough. We're already looking ahead to next year's competition, but in the meantime, take a look below at some of the winning poetry submissions...

Poetry 1st Prize
1966 Born in Newham was I
Bobby Moore, Hurst, and Peters had taken us to a new high
East London , Born and Bred
Names like Ethel, Bill, Elsie and Fred

Changes over the decades we have seen some
But still Newham remains popular, and still they come
From around the world to see Cockney Life
Trying to forget their ‘Troubles and Strife’

From Forest Gate to Canning Town
So many changes No need to frown!
The sixties came the sixties went
‘Love and Peace’ surely words that were heaven sent

Our proud Newham Heritage from years gone by
Leave for Barking, Hornchurch and farthest Essex?
I wonder why?
People from different countries came
But underneath we’re all the same

We still have our pie, We still have our mash
Now at Christmas, and Dilwali, we All have a bash!
In the Seventies we had disco and flares,
Reggae and Skins, Kids without any cares

Markets at Rathbone, East Ham, and Green Street,
Get your Saltfish, Fruit n Veg , Halal Meat
The eighties gave us New Romance,
Punks, well they never really had a chance.

Famous places and Famous faces, all with lots of style
Businesses that stand the test of time just like Tate and Lyle
Lennox Lewis, Vera Lynne and The Brave Jack Cornwall
And FANTASTIC buildings like our Newham Town Hall

If it’s Sport you want to play until dark
We have Wanstead Flats and West Ham Park
Exercise everywhere at Newham’s Leisure,
Never forget, West Ham United, our local treasure.

Labour, Tory, Liberal or Respect
We also have Newham Police to serve and protect
We need Someone who really CARES,
That’ll be Sir Robin, he’s OUR Mayor

Past the nineties, into a new millennium
From Eastern Europe our newest friends have come
Different, yes, but people the same,
Lets make them PROUD it’s to Newham they came,

We have to invest in our youngsters TODAY
More jobs, No KNIVES, let them have a say,
We must give them the tools to cope
To give them a future a place with HOPE,

Our biggest victory was yet to be won,
The chosen borough, for Olympic fun,
To show the world stage, what we are about,
Newham is PROUD, Newham is Great, Let’s hear you shout.

Julian Hilaire

1st Prize Poetry - Primary School
I do not know how to speak Chinese
The words you can hear are all the same
Why do they like to talk about dragons?

But I do know how to speak Polish
The sound of my language
Hearing it every day and every night
And even the dark moon
And the bright shiny stars talking to me.

I do no know how it feels to die and be under the ground,
The feel of the sand on my face,
The dreams of what is happening in the real world.
But I do know how the 02 Arena looks like,
The big empty field and suddenly people
Surrounding around me.
The sound of Michael Jackson having a practice lesson.

I do not know how it feels like to be a twin.
People staring at us, our mums and dads.
We look the same like two plums in a large field.
But I do know that my name is Piotr
And it belongs to me forever.

Piotr Ambrozik, Plaistow Primary School

1st Prize Poetry - Under 21
So many people dream of Caribbean Isles
Enriched with golden sands
Or thermal spa getaways
Complete with manicures and cocktails.

However pleasant such places may be
The destination my soul craves rests at home
And more precisely
My bed.

For it is the transition of moon to twilight
Where my eyes twitch
And from twilight to eve
Where my breathing slows
And the tight clothing that binds me are released.

Truly this is bedtime.

A haze of slumber wafts before me
And the dots of light beneath my shut eyelids
Dance in synch with my thoughts
Like glitter ballerinas.
Then I drift
And I sail
And I fly.

I have asked God why the world is round
And questioned my mother of my existence
I have asked Rosa why she didn’t just stand up
And Martin why he didn’t just sit down
I have touched the serenity of Mount Everest
And felt the wrath of Mount Vesuvius.

As I am roused bitterness engulfs me
As I realise that my unconscious adventures
Bear no significance
In what we call reality.

Natasha Mwansa

1st Prize Poetry - Over 60's

Depends on what you mean.
The changing face of me, or the country?

I remember I was a baby when I was born.
My face, my self have changed since then.
‘Cos I was all wrinkled,
Like a prune

And as I got older,
The wrinkles appeared again!

But I’m still a very handsome chap.

Gordon Kirkley

1st Prize Poetry - English as a Second Language
Hopeless Homeless
Dear old man,
What have you seen?
The evolution of concrete mountains?
The multiplying tittering of tongue?

Deal old man,
where have you been?
Crow’s feet have trampled your legs.
Your lifetime mapped on your skin.

Dear old man,
birthed from war,
living on tar river banks,
cannibalised honour eating on Newham floor.

Old man,
hear whispers say:
“Change is earned
when effort’s displayed.”

Annette du Plessis

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Saturday 18th July saw us sharing a pitch with The Gate Library at the Forest Gate Street Festival, now in its 10th year. The festival sees thousands of local people strolling in the sun while enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of what can only be described as a fantastic cultural event. (See film clip below)

Our display featured a magnificent tapestry produced by members of Age Concern Newham and many of the artists who worked on it popped along to see their handiwork on display.

T'was great to see their pride as they explained the process of making it to various members of the public, including the Mayor!

Thanks to Joan at Age Concern for her hard work in making this happen and it was indeed a pleasure to meet Joan C, Olive, Maggie and all the other wonderful ladies.

We also had a 'Wishing Table' (see above) - a great idea nicked from Annette at Spread the Word (credit where credit's due)- where we recorded nigh on a hundred wishes and poems from the day.

Those with eagle eyes and sharp minds may notice I keep saying "we". Well it certainly aint the Royal "We". The 'we' is actually poet, Nathalie, the new project manager in Newham and myself... welcome to Newham, Nat. Ho ho.

It also turned out to be a hard days' work for Library Facilitator Andrew and his assistant Genevieve who were kept busy all day signing up young people to the Summer Reading Challenge which effectively kicks off about... now.

I loved the talent contest (The first act was the winner in my eyes) and the young local band who covered Rolling Stones songs had a great vibe about them. However t'would've been great to see them do some original material. The jazz band really cleaned up though...

So one can confidently say the festival was a triumph for the organisers... well done. The only downside was that I didn't manage to get myself a festival T-shirt!

The 3-week Break into Freelance Journalism
course at East Ham Library with Jo Mears came to a successful end. An average of 11 people attended each session and the feedback was extremely complimentary about Jo and the camaraderie of the group. I'll be looking out to see the participants moving on in their careers.
Rock on till next year's festival, but while we're waiting, here's a snippet of some of the wishes written by the Newham public:
I wish I had a billion pounds to spend on improving the world and access to the money / I wish my cat could speak / I wish the world was chocolate / I wish I had a lap top (Ahmed, age 5) / I wish for a loo (Sara, age 5) / I wish we had Barack Obama for PM / I wish I had a normal family / I wish I was younger / I wish that I was a millionaire! BRAP! / I wish I could find my perfect soul-mate / I wish I could become a famous singer and actor / I wish to become a professional writer ( and lots of cake would be nice) / I wish that there was no cancer / I wish to be a princess / I wish I could be a in a rock and rowl gang / I wish I were happier /
I wish I were cleverer / I wish I were more approachable / I wish I was rich and could get a good job like something in law and speak like a policeman / I wish everyone had a job / I wish I could shake the Mayor of Newham’s hand / I wish for molecular manipulation / I wish everyone could make a small and positive difference / I wish I would never be dead / I wish for more sweets
Oh, I wish
Water was wine
Women were flowers
Songs were the rain
The air was wealth
And the sky was wisdom:
Oh, but a wish, wishes
Can only be a dream
Wrought from the dark
Reaches of troubled minds
Seeking restitution
from laboured lives, lives
Yet to be conquered
of themselves in time
Oh, I can but wish.

I wish Forest Gate festival was every day!

Friday, 10 July 2009


Hot sweltering days while an airborne virus swills its way through the populace... R Fed wins Wimbledon (or should I say the
Brit guy lost -
again)... a famous pop star gains immortality and the Tube's closed again... and oh, yeah, if you didn't know, there's a recession on. But despite all that, it's all good in the hood. Why?

Because the Judges for The Changing Face 2009 Newham Writing Competition have drawn up their final shortlists for the poetry, short story and short play competitions. A grand awards ceremony will take place on Saturday 12th September at Stratford Library where prizes will be awarded to the winners and commended writers in all 6 categories.

Before displaying the lists, may I remind you that the 'Breaking Into Freelance Journalism' course currently underway at East Ham Library ends o
n 18th July. This 3 week course facilitated by Journalist Jo Mears gives 15 local participants tips and advice from her vast experience working with some of Britain's leading broadsheet newspapers and magazines.

I should also tell you about the Forest Gate Street Festival which is in its 10th year and takes place on Saturday 18th July in Osborne Road, E7. As Newham Writer in Residence, I'll be there manning a stall alongside The Gate Library. Look out for a wonderful tapestry designed and made by members of Age Concern Newham, one of our partners in another project working with older residents called A Picture Paints a Thousand Words. Why not pop along to this vibrant festival which has an average attendance of around 3,000 visitors with music, performan
ces, food stal
ls and other interesting exhibitions.

Another interesting opportunity is a writers' advice session with freelance editor Patsy Isles onJuly 23rd at Stratford Library. Any local writer who would like advice on their work or their career can book an appointment to meet with Patsy. There will be further Writers' Advice sessions on 27th August and 24th September. To book any of these sessions or call 020 7735 3111.

July's Ride The Word poetry and short story reading evening takes place on Wednesday 29th July at Cafe Yumchaa Tea Shop, 45 Berwick Street, Soho, W1. The night boasts an exciting
lineup of writers including Luke Kennard, Cherry Smyth, Jay Merrill, Vincent de Souza and yours truly. There are additional readings from Tom Chivers, Dzifa Benson andDavi
d Caddy, editor of guest
magazine Tears in the Fence as well as an open mic floor spot for budding poets.

Now it's Crunch Time! Below is the shortlist for the 2009 Newham Writing Competition. We had a tremendous response to the competition and the judges, Maureen Duffy judging short stories, Charlie Dark judging poetry and Georgia Fitch judging short plays had the unenviable task of selecting work from all the entries.

I'd like to offer congratulations and a jolly well done to all the writers but * please note that the lists below are in alphabetical order only. Actual winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 12th September 2009 at Stratford Library.

Those listed will be invited to attend the Awards Ceremony where they get the opportunity to read their work, win a prize and possibly qualify for publishing in an anthology.

Good luck!



Elaine Baker - I have seen

Jacqui Durand - That Battle

Julian Hilaire - Newham is Proud

Koel Mukherjee - Newham’s Face


Shuhena Bhanu - The Ghostly Face of Newham

Sophia Mahmood - The Changing Face

Natasha Mwansa - The Changing Face


Gordon Kirkley - The Changing Face

Sheila Madge Lee - A Morning In The Park

Janet O’BrienHurdler’s Dream

Lilian Rabey - I Was Old Before I Was Young


Piotr Ambozik - I Do Not Know But I Do Know

Joshua Brian - I Do Not Know But I Do Know

Jamie Brooks - I Do Not Know But I Do Know

Simran Dovedi - Changing Face

Joe Young - If I Was A Cabbage


Ann Adesolabomi - Love at First Bite

Oluwatunmise Daniels - The Giraffe

Rida Hasan - Changing Face

Fahima Khanum - The New Building

Akil Job Omari - Looking Forward

Klaudija Viscockyte - The Changing Face


Annette du Plessis - Hopeless Homeless

Barry Freedom Taylor - The Changing Face

Klaudia Visockyte - The Changing Face



Jacqueline Applebee - Mother, Maiden, Crone

Annette du Plessis - Forgotten

Colette Fleming - Nellie

Sylvester Onwordi - Galleon’s Reach

Joy Stone - Changing Places


Zele Huma Butt - Aurora Borealis-The Lady Aiken

Remya Unnithan - Tom Cruise’s Diary


Cynthia Adejayan - The Changing Face

Christine Edwards - Rose’s First Telegram

Trevor Hadley - The Wallet

Alan Lancaster - A Face In The Mud

Carol Price - Life Could Be A Dream


Dise Ockri - The Changing Face

Grace Raj - The Changing Face


Billy Tonks - Chasing A Dream

Afrida Alam - Envisioning Glory

Zeenat Abdoolwahed - For The Better

Irsalan Ahmed - The Greenway

Sherena Hamilton - The Changing Face Of Hope


Sandra Nam - A Day in Newham

Annette du Plessis - Forgotten

R. Giridharan - From East With Glory

Chiedza Penelope Mwandiambira - Picture Perfect



Paula DavidSecond Chance

Annette KamaraThe 104 Bus Stop

Clive PowerHollow The Leader

Deb Scott-Lovric – Keeping Abreast

Monday, 18 May 2009


The deadline has passed for the Changing Face Newham Writing Competition.

We had an amazing response with a last minute flurry from writers who obviously fancied their chances of winning a cash prize and the possibility of getting their short story or poem published, or even getting their short play rehearsed and read at the Theatre Royal Stratford East with professional actors and directors. Now though, it's decision time for the judges and providence rests in the laps of the Gods (whoever they may be). Look out for results which will be announced in July with a super awards ceremony in early September. So the jolly best of east end good luck to those that entered.

And we've got some exciting events coming up in June which are sure to whet your appetite for creative writing:
Interested in freelance journalism?
Then get yourself signed up to a free 3 week short course running at East Ham Library with journalist Jo Mears. Jo has written feature articles for many regional and national newspapers including The Guardian. She is also the author of Coping with Endometriosis published by Sheldon Press.
Jo will teach up to 15 participants the rules of the game, what it takes to compete as a freelance in the heady world of journalism on Saturdays 4th, 11th and 18th July from 2-4pm. If you live in Newham and you are interested in this course get in touch with Spread the Word and reserve a place. It's first come first served and the email is

Another fascinating free event takes place at 2pm on Sunday 14th June at Stratford Library: it's called Jewish Mothers & Daughters and is a film archive produced by playwright and director Julia Pascal exploring the life and family histories of 50 British Jewish women.

The film will give a snapshot of the 50 women who took part in the project, and these include women such as actors Maureen Lipman, Miriam Karlin, Janet Suzman as well as politicians Edwina Currie and Oona King amongst many others.
As an added bonus Oona King, former MP for Bethnal Green will attend the screening and take part in a Q&A session alongside Julia Pascal.

Then would you Adam an' Eve it (believe it)? The following day, Monday 15th June from 7-9pm Stratford Library plays host to 'Ride The Word' a poetry and prose reading event with eminent published writers. As well as readings from poet Vincent de Souza and novelist Jay Merrill you can also look out for local performances of young, up and coming talent and readings from a leading poetry magazine.

With excellent transport links to Stratford with bus, tube and train there's no excuse to miss any of these opportunities. The address is Stratford Library, 3 The Grove, Stratford, London E15 1EL
For further info check out or call 020 7735 6111

Friday, 13 March 2009


Hi there,

With spring very much in evidence Spread the word, Newham Libraries and Newham Arts & Festivals Service bring you a series of events to entice you from your winter clothing into fresher literary attire.
We have the creative writing competition, nostalgic writing, short story and poetry writing and performance events all designed to whet your literary appetites:

1. The Changing Face Newham Writing Competition 2009 creative writing taster workshops are still ongoing with workshops at North Woolwich Library (March 19), Plaistow Library (March 26), Stratford Library (April 4), The Gate Library (April 11)...
and let's not forget the special Teenagers' Workshop with poet and DJ Charlie Dark at Canning Town Library, 2-4pm on 21st March.

Charlie Dark is one third of Attica Blues, the critically acclaimed hip hop inspired trio. Charlie has toured around the globe to places such as Japan, US, Germany, Africa, Australia, Canada and most of Europe. Charlie was featured at Poetry International at the South Bank and as well as being the poetry Judge for Changing Faces Newham Writing Competition 2009 he was a Poet Coach for the London Teenage Poetry Slam for three years running.

Event: Changing Face Teenagers' Creative Writing Workshop
Venue: Canning Town Library, Barking Road, Canning Town E16 4HQ
Date: Saturday 21st March
Time: 2pm - 4pm

2. Another ongoing project throughout March and into April run in collaboration with Age Concern Newham and other groups working with residents over 60 years old is A Picture Paints a Thousand Words... or less.

Local people are being asked to bring a picture, photograph or piece of artwork that says something about the history of their community to a series of workshops and invited to express their views through creative writing which will form part of an exhibition touring Newham libraries in the autumn.

The workshops are facilitated by poet and playwright Heather Taylor and community poet and novelist Evlynn Sharp. Participants will also be invited to contribute oral histories which will be recorded and form part of the exhibition. The workshop dates, times and venues are:

11.00am - 12.30pm Thursday 19 March
Samuel Boyce Unit, The Resource Centre, 200 Chargeable Lane, Plaistow, E13 8DW. Tel: 020 7474 4814
10.30am - 12.30pm Thursday 26 March
Mariner Day Centre, 1 Mariner Road, Manor Park E12 5RX, Tel: 020 8553 9801
1.30pm - 3.00pm Tuesday 31 March
St Luke’s Over 50's Club, St Luke's Community Centre, 89 Tarling Road, Canning Town E16 1HN, Tel: 020 7366 6402
1.30pm - 3.00pm Thursday 2 April
Reminiscence Group, Ascension Church Centre, Baxter Road, E16 3HJ, Tel: 020 7511 1232 (option 2)

3. Short Story writing read by local authors comes to the Gate Library on Tuesday 24th March from 6pm 'Tales of the Decongested Vol. 2', a short story reading event hosted by the London Short Story Collective.

The London Short Story Collective's primary objective is to raise the profile of the short story and to discover exciting new talent in London. Writers are encouraged to submit their work online ( with selected works chosen for public readings with possibilities for publishing into an anthology.
Authors on the night are Sara Hiorns, Frank Goodman, Emily Bromfield, Kate Henderson, Katy Darby, Richard Tyrone Jones. A children's club with art facilities and reading will be available at The Gate making this a real family-friendly event.

Venue: The Gate Library, 4-20 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate E7 0QH
Date: Tuesday 24th March 2009
Time: 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start
Finishes: 7.30pm

4. And finally Stratford Library plays host to the official launch of Vincent De Sousa's 2nd collection of poetry called Resurrecting Knives published by Salt Publishing on Tuesday 31st March at 7pm.

Vincent studied English and Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and for many years worked as an advertising copywriter. He set up and ran the 1980s experimental London workshop Physical Poets and currently co-hosts the poetry and short story reading series Ride the Word. In 2007 his first collection Weightless Road was published by Salt Publishing. Vincent is currently one of the facilitators on the Changing Face Writing Competition workshops.
The evening also features readings and performances from local writers. Light refreshments available.

Venue: Stratford Library, 3 The Grove, Stratford E15 1EL
Date: Tuesday 31st March 2009
Time: 7pm - 9pm

I look forward to seeing you at these exciting events.
Chou for now!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

'THE CHANGING FACE' Newham Borough Writing Competition 2009

Interested in writing poetry or short stories?
Live, work, study or go to school in Newham?
Want to win a prize and have your work published?

Then why not enter the Newham Borough Writing Competition?

With prizes totaling well over £1000 Newham Libraries and Arts & Festivals Service in association with London’s leading writing organisation, Spread the Word, launches its first borough-wide writing competition for poetry, short stories and stage-plays.

In recognition of dramatic changes taking place in Newham today the theme for the competition is ‘The Changing Face’ and the submitted work, in some way, should reflect this in its content. The deadline for entries is 29 May 2009.

Aimed at writers of all ages and abilities the competition seeks to capture the essence of London’s most diverse borough with additional awards for under-represented groups such as schoolchildren, the Under 21’s, the Over 60’s and those with English as a Second Language.

Don’t worry if you’ve never written before, Spread the Word will be hosting a series of Free creative writing workshops in Newham Libraries to help you get the most from your work.

The workshops will cover poetry, short stories and writing for the stage and will be tutored by playwright and novelist, Laura Bridgeman (left, seen here teaching at Beckton Globe) Laura, who has a PH.D in Creative & Critical Writing teaches at the London Metropolitan University and was recently shortlisted for the Charles Pick Fellowship for her latest novel, Raphael Coombs.

The second workshop tutor is poet Vincent De Souza (below right). An experienced tutor and experimental poet, Vincent ran the central London based experimental workshop Physical Poets and in 2007 he launched his first collection
Weightless Road. He currently co-hosts Ride the Word a poetry and prose reading series and his second collection of poetry Resurrecting Knives published by Salt Publishing is due out in March 2009.

The Workshops will be taking place at these venues and at these times and do call the numbers below to book your place:

Saturday 14 February 2pm - 4pm
Canning Town Library Barking Road, Canning Town E16 4HQ
Tel: 020 7476 2696

Thursday 19 February 6pm – 7.45pm
Custom House Library
Prince Regent Lane, Custom House E16 3JJ
Tel: 020 7476 1565

Saturday 28 February 2pm – 4pm
East Ham Library
High Street South, East Ham E6 6EL
Tel: 020 8430 3648

Thursday 5th March 6pm – 7.45pm
Green Street Library 337-341 Green Street, Upton park E13 9AR
Tel: 020 8472 4101

Thursday 12 March 6pm – 7.45pm
Manor Park Library
Romford Road, Manor Park E12 5JY
Tel 020 8430 2207

Thursday 19 March 6pm – 7.45pm
North Woolwich Library
5 Pier Parade, North Woolwich E16 2LJ
Tel: 020 8430 5900

* Special Teenagers’ Creative Writing Workshop
Saturday 21 March 2pm - 4pm

Canning Town Library
Barking Road, Canning Town E16 4HQ
Tel: 020 7476 2696

Thursday 26 March 6pm – 7.45pm
Plaistow Library North Street, Plaistow E13 9HL
Tel: 020 8472 0420

Saturday 4th April 2pm – 4pm
Stratford Library
3 The Grove, Stratford E15 1EL
Tel: 020 8430 6890

Saturday 11th April 2pm – 4pm
Library @ The Gate
4-20 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate E7 0QH
Tel: 020 8430 3838

The Competition Judges are:

Maureen Duffy – Short Story
Maureen was born in 1933 in Worthing, Sussex but lived for a large part of her life in Newham. After a career as a schoolteacher she made her debut as a novelist with That’s How It Was, published to wide acclaim in 1962. Duffy has published around 30 other books, including five volumes of poetry. Her latest collection of Poetry, her first in almost twenty years is called Family Values and was published by Enitharmon Press in 2008.

Charlie Dark – Poetry
Charlie Dark is a London-based poet, writer, producer and DJ. He makes up one third of the hip-hop inspired trio Attica Blues and is the founder of Blacktronica, a monthly club night featuring the best acts currently working the black electronic music scene in the UK. He makes regular appearances on the performance poetry circuit, is an experienced tutor and was a Poet Coach for the London Teenage Poetry SLAM for three consecutive years.

Georgia Fitch – Playwriting
Georgia was born in Plaistow. Her plays for the stage include adrenalin …heart, I like Mine With A Kiss, The Footballer’s Wife (Old Red Lion), Come Dancing, Arrivals and Dirty Dirty Princess for the RNT/Connections 2008 Season. Georgia also writes for radio and television.

‘The Changing Face’ Rules

1. The theme for this competition is ‘The Changing Face’
2. There is one entry per person.
3. Poetry, short stories and short plays can be submitted
4. There is one award category for Short Plays.
5. There are five award categories for poetry and Short Stories:
(i) General – for all entrants
(ii) Entrants aged under 20
(iii) Entrants aged Over 60
(iv) Entrants who have English as a second language
(v) Entrants attending School
6. Each Entry must be the undisputed work of the Entrant
7. No covering letter or other material should be enclosed with your entry. 8. Once submitted, entries cannot be withdrawn from the competition or alterations made.
9. Entries will not be returned so please do not send your only copy.
10. Acknowledgement of receipt of entry will only be given if a stamped, self-addressed envelope marked ACKNOWLEDGEMENT is enclosed.

11. Entries will be accepted from writers of any nationality provided that: (i) they live, work, study or attend school in the borough of Newham (ii) they are written or translated into English (iii) they have not previously been published in any form (including appearing on the internet) (iv) they are not translations of another author’s work 12. Employees of Spread the Word and members of its Committees and Management Board and their immediate families are not eligible to enter.

13. Stories must be no longer than 1,000 words.
14. Poems must be no more than 42 lines in length
15. Entries must be typed or clearly written on one side of the paper only.
16. Plays must be maximum 30 minutes (As a guide: 1 page per minute, double-spaced) with a maximum cast of five characters.
17. Winners will be decided by professional judges.
18. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence can be entered into. 19. The closing date for receipt of entries is 6pm Friday 29 May 2009. All entries must reach us by this date.
20. Shortlisted entries will be notified in writing by end of June 2009. 21. Competitors who want to receive a printed list of prizewinners must enclose a separate stamped, self-addressed envelope marked “prizewinners”

22. The list of prizewinners will be available after the prize giving ceremony in August 2009
23. Prizes for short story and poetry are:
£100 for 1st Prize, £50 for 2nd Prize and £25 for 3rd Prize.
In addition there will be supplementary prizes for commended work as well as prizes for winners currently attending school.
24. Prizes for Short Plays will be rehearsed, public readings with professional actors, staged at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
25. All winners will agree to participate in any reasonable request by the Organisers to fulfill marketing obligations relating to the Competition and their own Entry.
26. Winning and commended poems and short stories will be published in an anthology and the authors offered mentoring and professional advice. The authors of the winning plays will be offered future dramaturgical support with their writing.

27. Copyright will remain with the author, but Spread the Word and Newham Writing Competition reserves the right to arrange the first publication in an anthology.
28. Submission of a poem, short story or play implies the competitor’s acceptance of the conditions set out above.

29. These terms and conditions are the Competition Rules (‘Rules’) and by entering the competition, all entrants agree to be bound by them.
30. You can enter online by requesting a submission form from

Postal entries can be sent to: Newham Writing Competition, Library at The Gate, 4-20 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, London E7 0QH