News from 26

News and opportunities for 26ers including new writing challenges, the chance to contribute to a literary magazine, and Cakespeare.

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb: words in the garden

Award-winning east London community garden Abbey Gardens will have a words tent at its Summer Party on Saturday 14 June from 1pm-4pm. We’re looking for a writer to help visitors write pen portraits of plants, which will become part of a word garden on the day. We have no budget for fees, only material’s costs, but we can fill you to the gunwales with cake. If you’d like to find out more, visit our website. If you’d like to discuss helping, contact Lydia Thornley at


shakespeareShakespeare and the V&A
The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre
30 April, 1pm-1:45pm

Shakespeare is one of the few major figures from the arts and sciences whose name or portrait does not appear on the walls of the V&A, and yet his presence is everywhere in the collections and the lives of those who created them. As we celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the V&A Head of Research, Professor Bill Sherman, goes in search of the Bard. Followed by a celebratory tea party to launch Shakespeare in 100 Objects, 1:45pm-2:15pm.

Free and open to all, no reservation is necessary. ​



Design a Shakespeare-inspired cake in celebration on his 450th birthday and you could be in the chance of winning a weekend for two in Stratford-upon-Avon.


The Bookshop Band

Folk trio perform new songs inspired by the Bard at the National Art Library.
2 May, 7:30pm and 8:45pm


In Shakespeare’s Shoes

Take part in a new writing challenge with the Poetry Society Young Poets Network. 23 April – 8 June.

Sophie Reynolds


maltaMalta Child

My first e-book has just been published. Malta Child is a short collection of family memoirs from my life in Malta in the late 1950s, part of my father’s RN posting. Available from Amazon for Kindle and other e-readers.

Vivien Jones


On the shortlist

I’ve just heard I’ve been shortlisted for The Poetry School / Pighog Poetry Pamphlet competition. Jolly chuffed as that’s down to 13 out of 600+.

Justina Hart


This month, through the verse medium of the Limerick, I offer a reflection on the poignant news of the separation of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow


There once was a beardy singer called Martin

Whose comely wife ‘Shakespeare in Love’ had a part in,

One sad day, sans kerfuffle

They made to consciously uncouple

Or Dee, Eye, Vee, Oh, Are, Sea, Ee, as sung by Ms Parton

Duncan Mackay


Our new, independent literary journal was set up by a small group of creatives who were frustrated by writing magazines that concentrated on substance over style, or vice versa. Firewords aims to have an abundance of both; powerful writing enhanced by bold design.

We believe there should be a stronger platform for exciting new writers to have their voices heard and remembered. We also think a literary journal should be easy to pick up and dip in and out of; a rich, immersive experience that takes you to another world. This is why, for a long time now, our dream has been to create this magazine.

We are always looking for contributors and submissions from new writers who deserve exposure, so were wondering if this is something your writers would be interested in hearing about and perhaps submitting to? Our submission guidelines can be found at

Dan Burgess


afiaAfia news

Ben’s taken the good word about jargon busting out into the world (a double page spread no less!) And this month afia celebrated our 10th birthday, we ate (lots) of cake and held an event where we chatted about tone of voice.


Make Me Your Princess

I wrote and produced a short film Make Me Your Princess in support of the Helen Bamber Foundation’s work in helping victims of sex trafficking, a really horrific business, that takes place in every town behind closed doors. My film is in the form of a prose poem with music and sound design. The words don’t pull any punches and some might find them upsetting. But it is what happens in this horrid world.

You can see it here

Mike Dempsey

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