Urban Tree Festival flash writing and poetry competition


2020 marks the anniversary of some key poets and writers who have put nature writing on the map.

It is 200 years since the first publication of poems by John Clare, the first book was called ‘Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery’ published in 1820. Unlike poet and writer contemporaries he came from the labouring classes, frequently described as England’s greatest nature poet.

It is 250 years since the birth of Romantic poet William Wordsworth, a contemporary of Clare, his upbringing and background was far different.  He too, strode out and described landscape and the influence of nature, with trees playing an important part. He is the subject of a major exhibition at the British Library.

It is 300 years since the birth of Gilbert White, naturalist and ornithologist who wrote the seminal “Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne”.

400 years ago John Evelyn was born, a diarist and gardener. He possibly wrote the first book on trees: ‘Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest Trees‘ in 1664.

We invite you to write a flash story or poem of 250 words or under about trees and nature, either inspired by the works of Clare, Wordsworth or Evelyn, or about the trees and woodland in your local neighbourhood.

In May this year, we will be running the Urban Tree Festival (16-24 May) at which, if circumstances permit, on Sunday 24 May at Bell House in Dulwich, London, we will showcase the winning poems and stories by inviting the winning authors and poets of our current writing competition to read their work. However, we are making plans for the showcase to take place on-line. Our current competition opens on Saturday 29 February and runs until midnight (GMT) on Monday 13 April (Easter Monday).

Winners will be published in Canopy, a limited edition chapbook, published by Sampson Low Publishers. Winners receive 3 copies of the illustrated limited edition chapbook.  Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go towards funding future Urban Tree Festivals.

The competition closes midnight GMT  Monday 13 April and the winners will be announced no later than Friday 24 April. There is an entry fee (to cover administration costs) of £4 for one flash piece or poem and £7 for two (entrants are limited to 2 entries only – you may submit a poem and a flash story, two poems or two stories).

We are delighted to announce that poets Professor Peter Jaeger and Ghazal Mosadeq have volunteered to act as judges for the poetry competition.  They join Nigel Bristow and Andrew Stuck, who are the judges for the flash pieces.  Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone is the editor of the anthology, and it will be illustrated by Alban Low.

We are planning to run nature writing walkshops as in the coming months, dates and details will follow shortly.  If you are unable to attend a walkshop, you can get creative writing tips from Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone (the anthology editor) by downloading this audio-guide.


If you wish to enter please read the guidelines below before paying your submission fees:

Ensure you keep your PayPal receipt as you will need to forward it with your submission (as an attachment) to  [email protected]

The Theme

We want to read stories about trees and nature, inspired by either inspired by the works of Clare, White, Wordsworth or Evelyn, or about the trees and woodland in your local neighbourhood.  The stories or poems can be fact or fiction but must be no more than 250 words in length.  Judge’s decisions on this matter are final.


Peter Jaeger is a Canadian writer based in London. He is the author of eleven books, including works of poetry and hybrid creative-critical research. Along with his own ecologically-grounded writing, he has published research on ecological issues in the work of John Cage and Marcel Proust. Recent publications include the artist book The Shadow Line (2016) and the long poem Midamble (2018). Jaeger holds the post of Professor of Poetics at the University of Roehampton in London, where he also directs the Exploratory Writing Research Group. During the 1980s he worked as a tree-planter in Canada, where he planted over 300,000 trees by hand.

Ghazal Mosadeq is an Iranian-Canadian writer, poet and translator based in London. She is the founder of Pamenar Press, an independent cross-cultural, multi-lingual publisher based in UK, Canada and Iran. Mosadeq’s work has been performed internationally at festivals such as the Inishbofin Festival, Surrey Poetry Festival, Po-Ex Symposium Chile, among others. Her writings have been published by Words Without Borders, Poetry Wales, Boiler House Press, The Stand Magazine, Hesterglock Press, Vanguard Press, Tentacular and Oversound. She has published three poetry collections, Dar Jame Ma (2010), Biographies (2015), and Supernatural Remedies for Fatal Seasickness (2018). She lives in a home jungle of apartment plants.

Nigel Bristow – NG Bristow is a screen writer, director and visual artist. He is currently marooned at Goldsmiths University of London, where he runs the MA in Directing Fiction.


Andrew Stuck – Founder of the Museum of Walking, Producer Talking Walking podcasts, he worked in rights and sales for Hodder for 10 years. Andrew founded and is a co-producer of the Urban Tree Festival.


Anthology Editor

Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone – Author, editor and creative writing tutor for the Novel Studio, City, University of London.



  1. Entrants must be 16 years or over.
  2. Entry is open to everyone; locally, nationally and internationally.
  3. An entry can only be made by the work’s individual author.
  4. Entries must not have been previously published in print or online, been broadcast or won a prize.
  5. Entries must not include any defamatory language.
  6. Entries must clearly respond to the Urban Tree Festival theme, be original and written in English. They must also be for adult or young adult readers. Non-fiction and fiction written for children under 13 years is not eligible.
  7. Simultaneous submission is permitted. Should your writing piece win a prize or be published elsewhere, please let us know so that we may remove your entry from the current competition.
  8. Authors retain full worldwide copyright throughout.


  1. Maximum length is 250 words excluding title (that mustn’t exceed 8 words).
  2. Entries can be either fiction or non-fiction
  3. Entries should be typed in a plain legible font. A sans 12pt font is suggested.
  4. Entries will be read and judged anonymously so do not put your name, address, email, telephone number or any personally identifying information on any page.
  5. If the piece has no title, then its first five words must be used as the title.
  6. Acceptable file types are odt, doc, docx, txt and pdf.
  7. The file name must be the title of your piece, punctuation removed. If your piece does not have a title, then the file name must be its first five words, punctuation removed.


Entry is online via email and only through the a PayPal gateway on this webpage. We do not accept postal entries. Following payment using the PayPal buttons on the submission page, PayPal will email you your receipt. To enter, simply ‘Forward’ that email – ensuring to ‘Attach’ your work – to this email address: [email protected] .

  1. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy.
  2. No corrections or alterations can be made after entries have been received.
  3. Entrants are limited to 2 entries each.
  4. Entries are acknowledged by your receiving of a PayPal receipt.


  1. The standard fee is £4.00 GBP for one submission and £7.00 for two (which can be either 2 stories, 2 poems or one of each).
  2. Submissions must be paid for via the PayPal buttons on this site. Payment can be made using your PayPal account or via Credit/Debit card option on the PayPal page.


  1. Full no quibble refunds are available up to the closing date of each round, contact us should the need arise.
  2. Once the closing date has passed, no refunds can be made.


  1. The prize is publication in Canopy the limited edition chapbook anthology – the

    Examples of chapbooks

    winners receive 3 copies of the illustrated limited edition chapbook.  Winners will be invited to a read their work at a showcase event on the final day fo the Urban Tree Festival on Sunday 24 May if circumstances permit at Bell House, in Dulwich, London or at a live event on-line.

  2. The results of the competition will be announced on the Museum of Walking website.
  3. Entrants retain copyright.

Entry constitutes acceptance of all Museum of Walking Rules. Entries that fail to comply with the rules will be disqualified. No correspondence can be entered into, Judges’ decisions are final.

Sampson Low Publishers, as an imprint, has existed for over two hundred years. Today it’s still managed by the Low family, and based just outside London. They have published diverse works from Noddy to Jules Verne to sporting heroes like Dennis Compton. One newish interest is in publishing small-scale chapbooks, often combining the work of writers and artists. The format is perfect for pithy written works that can be enjoyed in one sitting.

Museum of Walking: It was at the Banff Centre in the Canadian Rockies on a Walking and Art Residency in 2007 that an idea of a Museum dedicated solely to walking and art was developed by Andrew Stuck. The museum would be a showpiece for events around walking. It would promote walking and it would promote art and creativity and bring the two together. We chose to broaden it by inviting Co-creators to work together to create a variety of different walking opportunities. Our intention has always been to encourage people to dip their toes into trying new things, out and about on foot, giving them the chance of being more creative – “the art is in taking part”.