Love Hertford Poetry & Flash Fiction Competition

Love Hertford is a poetry and flash fiction competition that celebrates the town of Hertford.

We’re looking for poems and flash fiction that celebrate why we ‘Love Hertford’ to raise money for Hertford Museum.

The competition will raise funds for the Museum both through entry fees and through the Love Hertford book in which the winning and shortlisted poems and flash fiction will be published. The Love Hertford book will be sold in aid of the Museum. All shortlisted writers will receive a copy of the book and be invited to read their work at an awards evening on Thursday 5th October where the overall winner will be announced.

You can interpret the theme in any way you like.

Poems can be in any format, but must be a maximum of 30 lines (including stanza breaks but excluding the title).

Flash fiction entries must be a maximum of 400 words (excluding the title)

The winning writer will receive a prize of £100, and all shortlisted work will receive a free copy of the Love Hertford book.

The competition will be judged anonymously by Dr Amina Alyal, a poet as well as senior lecturer and creative writing tutor at Leeds Trinity University.

The competition is being organised by Hertford-based Cariad Marketing. For more information and for details of how to enter, see below.

First prize: £100 sponsored by Cariad Marketing. All shortlisted poems and flash fiction will be published in the ‘Love Hertford’ book and all shortlisted writers will receive a free copy.
Fee: £5 for each poem or story submitted, or £12 for three poems or stories.
Deadline: 19th June 2023
Award event: Thursday 5th October 2023

Looking for inspiration? Writing Workshops

To help inspire you, and kick-start your poems or flash fiction, we are running writing workshops at Hertford Museum on Saturday 15th April.

Run by local writers Bev Morris and Sarah Wragg, our four themed workshops will give you inspiration and writing prompts and tips to help you bring your ideas to life. Each workshop lasts one hour and you can sign up for the one or two you’re interested in, or come for the entire day! 


10am-11am Hertford’s History and Ghosts

11.30am-12.30pm Hertford Food & Drink

1.30pm-2.30pm Hertford’s Buildings

3pm-4pm The People of Hertford 

The Love Hertford Poetry & Flash Fiction Competition is raising money for Hertford Museum. Bev and Sarah are giving their time free to run the workshops, but we are asking for a donation of £5 to the Museum to cover the costs of the room and refreshments. 

About the tutors 

Sarah Wragg  – Sarah’s poems have been published in anthologies by Beautiful Dragons Press (My Dear Watson; Not A Drop; A Bee’s Breakfast; Noble Dissent; Watch The Birdie; Well, Dam!; Bloody Amazing!) and Indigo Dreams (Mystery). Ghost Walk (Hedgehog Poetry Press) is her first solo collection which combines her love of poetry and the horripilating shivers you experience when reading good old fashioned ghost stories. Sarah is currently writing a collection of poems about Hertford ghosts and is always on the lookout for inspiration – so if you’ve had a spooky encounter get in touch! In other writing achievements, Sarah’s black comedy Delira made it to the finals of the 2020 Write Here! Write Now! Playwriting Festival held at the Hertford Theatre, and she is a frequent contributor to open mic nights with her pithy poetry and short stories.

Bev Morris – Inspired by the voices of extraordinary people in extreme situations, Bev writes through listening to stories told by survivors. Bev’s work itself is created in fragments; poems, flash fiction, haiku, micro-scripts. She looks to give a space to unheard voices, even when these voices falter or scream. Her latest military history, ‘An Average Pilot’ will be published by Double Dagger Books in August 2023 and her new self-help book, ‘Moments of Joy’ will be available from May 2023. Bev’s poetry is published by the award-winning Beautiful Dragons (Ragged Rocks, Running Rascals, Bloody Amazing, Up the Duff, Lighting Out, Watch the Birdie, Noble Dissent), Retreat West (The Perfect Word), Writers Online (The Show at the End of the Pier) and AMED (The Fifth Element). Her plays (Vagina Blogs, and 9 Lives, 8 Deaths) have been performed by Contexture Theatre and she has had many short stories published in women’s magazines internationally.  Bev mentors other writers and storytellers to find their own voice, running writing workshops and groups and seeking out the next creative collaboration.

Looking for inspiration about Hertford?

The historic town of Hertford has got much to write about. Your poems or flash fiction can be about anything as long as there’s a Hertford connection. So you could write about a personal connection or experience, a landmark, a local character, an amazing friend or relative who lives in Hertford. Or write about an event, a great night out, your favourite shop or restaurant, or a special memory that took place in the town. Perhaps the work of the yarn bombers will inspire you. Or write about one of the famous people who once lived here. Or you could take inspiration from Hertford’s rich history.

Alternatively, visit Hertford Museum itself and get inspired by the many exhibits and the stories behind them.

Here are some of the websites about Hertford that might help inspire you:

Hertford Museum –
Hertford Heritage Trail –
Discover Hertford –
I Love Hertford –
History of Hertford Castle –
Go Hertford –
Hertford parks and open spaces –
Panshanger Park –

How to enter:

Type your poem/s or flash fiction onto separate word documents. All work will be judged anonymously, so please do not include your name or any identifying details on the word document.

Submit your entry fee via our online shop.

Attach your poems or flash fiction to an email and send them to with ‘Love Hertford’ in the email title. In the body of the email, let us know your name and the title/s of your poem/s or flash fiction. Please also include your order confirmation number so we can confirm your entry payment.

About the judge

The competition will be judged by Dr Amina Alyal, Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (Twitter @LTUEnglish, @DrAlyal, #LTUEnglishChangedMyLife). Amina writes and performs poetry, with two published collections: The Ordinariness of Parrots (Stairwell Books) and Season of Myths (Indigo Dreams). Her collaboration with Oz Hardwick and the taiko drumming group Kaminari UK resulted in Close as Second Skins (Indigo Dreams) which was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. Amina has also had work published in numerous poetry journals and anthologies.


  1. Poems and flash fiction must be original and unpublished. They must be written in English. Poems must not exceed 30 lines (not including the title). Flash fiction must be a maximum of 400 words (not including the title).
  2. Deadline: 19th June 2023
  3. You do not have to be a current resident of Hertford to enter, but your inspiration must be about Hertford or someone connected to the town.
  4. You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.
  5. The entry fee is £5.00 per poem or story; or £12.00 to submit three.
  6. You will retain the copyright to your work, but the organisers and Hertford Museum reserve the right to publish any of the finalisted poems.

With special thanks to Hertford photographer Paul Crowley for creating and donating the Love Hertford cover design.

The Love Hertford Poetry & Flash Fiction Competition and Love Hertford Writing Workshops are being organised by Hertford-based Cariad Marketing. For more information, contact Sarah at


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