ISLANDERS should sharpen their pencils, charge their laptops (and turn off those AI apps) for the return of the Jersey Festival of Words Writing Competition.
The festival has today launched its annual challenge – in partnership with the JEP and sponsored by Oakglen Wealth – to wordsmiths of all ages to submit poetry, flash fiction and short stories.
There are cash prizes for the top three stories or poems in each age category, which all have a deadline of 10 August.
The winner of the poetry competition’s 17-and-above category will also receive the prestigious Alan Jones Prize, named after the Jersey poet, writing mentor, and former head of English at Hautlieu who died in 2013.
The winners’ work will be published in the JEP during the festival, which is scheduled to take place from 15 to 24 September.
Former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo and poet laureate Simon Armitage have been announced as speakers at the festival.
The judging panel for the competition is yet to be confirmed.
Announcing the launch of this year’s competition, Paul Bisson, the festival’s vice-chair, said: ‘The writing competition is an essential part of the festival, providing an opportunity for all Islanders to showcase their literary talents and contribute creatively to a community celebration of words.
‘We are grateful to this year’s competition sponsors, Oakglen Wealth, for making it possible, and look forward as ever to a high standard of entry from Jersey’s writers and poets.’
Mr Bisson is urging entrants not to turn to ChatGPT or other AI software to produce their stories, although it may be tempting.
JEP editor Andy Sibcy said: ‘The JEP is proud to cement its important relationship with the Jersey Festival of Words again this year through the popular short story and poetry sections of the competition.
‘The festival is such an important feature of the Island’s events and cultural calendar and we are very proud to help inspire people in seeking to make sense of things and to explore ideas through reading and writing.
‘Whether you are a seasoned author or someone who has always fancied having a go at writing something for others to read, this is a great opportunity to give it a try.’
He added: ‘Once again, a huge thank-you to the amazing people who dedicate so much time to organise the Festival of Words and to our competition sponsor, Oakglen Wealth.’
Oakglen investment director William Lamond said that the firm was ‘delighted’ to sponsor the competition, which is now in its ninth year.
He added: ‘It gives Islanders the opportunity to showcase their creative literary talent. Good luck to all those budding authors taking part.’