Café Writers Commission 2017

Ink Sweat & Tears and Café Writers will be launching the 2017 Pamphlet Commission Competition in July with a closing date of 22nd September.

For those not familiar with the Commission, we invite all entrants to submit twelve pages of poetry  and a 400 word proposal that outlines your approach for creating new work for the pamphlet around a coherent theme. (To get an idea of what we mean, please go to the Shop IS&T page and have a look at the pamphlets from the 2014 co-winners, including Jay Bernard’s The Red and Yellow Nothing which was shortlisted for the 2016 Ted Hughes Award.)

The prize this year includes £2000, 100 copies of the pamphlet to sell as you wish and a launch at Café Writers in Norwich.

Further details on competition rules, how to submit and handling fees, which we hope to keep at 2014 levels, will be available on the web site in early July.




Update: March 2017

Jay Bernard’s The Red and Yellow Nothing was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2016. You can find more information here.

Emboldened by Jay’s success, IS&T and Café Writers plan to relaunch the Commission competition in the second half of 2017. Watch this space!!!!


Update: April 2016

We are pleased to announce that Jay Bernard’s The Red and Yellow Nothing and Jonathan Morley’s Euclid’s Harmonics have just been published by Ink Sweat & Tears Press and that will follow in a few days. You can purchase both books on our IS&T Press page. They are also available direct from the authors and via Amazon.



And the Winners of the Ink Sweat & Tears/Café Writers Poetry Pamphlet Commission are…


The standard of entries this year was so high that when it came right down to it we simply could not decide between two excellent poets whose poems and proposals complemented each other so well. Therefore, after securing additional funding, we are able to announce the following winners


Huge Congratulations to Jay Bernard  and Jonathan Morley.


Jay Bernard

We were blown away by Jay’s poetry and excited by the Word & Image possibilities inherent in their skills as a graphic artist. Jay’s proposal revolves around the virtually forgotten black characters in British life and folklore from the pre-Anglo Saxon to the early renaissance although their ‘conceit’ is zero time and their intention to allow these to be ‘sensible’ to each other on the same plane.

The poems will avoid the progression of English History into slavery;  since poems, songs and stories are not just reflections of what we understand but how we understand, this pamphlet defamiliarises the present by re-imagining the past.


Jonathan Morley

Jonathan’s proposal is all about language – we were mesmerised by the language of his poetry and his different voices – and his focus is also from history in the person of Dr Philemon Holland (1552-1637). Holland was the ‘Translator General in his age’, later reviled and admired and now forgotten, who ‘Englished’ the classics and whose handwriting may have been the model for the Baskerville typeface. Jonathan’s use of different fonts in both his poems and proposal opens up a world of Word & Image possibilities.

Lost libraries, half-ruined buildings, the contested hand of the translator, Bardolatry vs. the escape from personality, abstruse texts and dusty reputations – the imaginative possibiities are interesting.


Each poet will receive £2000, a published pamphlet, 100 copies of that pamphlet to do with as they wish and a reading at Café Writers at Take Five in Norwich. We have no strict deadlines or publication dates as yet but plan to keep you informed and publish extracts as the pamphlets are developed.

It is all very exciting.


Finally, we felt that our unsuccessful finalists deserved at the very least to be Commended.


These are

Mona Arshi

Jo Bell

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave & Tom de Freston

David Van-Cauter


Helen Ivory, Kate Birch and (fellow judge) Chris Gribble


After much painful deliberation we have reached a shortlist of six for the  Cafe Writers IS&T Poetry Commission.

Congratulations to the following poets who go through to the final round of judging:


Mona Arshi

Jo Bell

Jay Bernard

Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

Jonathan Morley

David Van-Cauter


The nature of this competition meant that we took into consideration the pamphlet proposals as much as the poetry sent in as samples of work – our whole long-list (below) are excellent writers by definition, as were many of the poets who didn’t make it to the long-list.  We look forward to telling you about our winner and their idea by the end of the month!




Thanks to everybody who entered the Cafe Writers IS&T Poetry Commission and who made long-listing such a difficult job!  The standard of the 130 entries was incredibly high and we have decided upon a long-list of 21 proposals to go through to the next round of judging.  The winning proposal will be announced at the end of April.

Huge congratulations to the long-listed poets:


Deborah Alma

Mona Arshi

Jo Bell

Jay Bernard

Jennifer Copley

Chris Fewings

Ailsa Holland

Helen Kay

Martin Malone

Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

Jonathan Morley

Jessica Penrose

Stav Poleg

Bethany W Pope

Meryl Pugh

Di Slaney

Jo Surzyn

David Van-Cauter

Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson

Lois Williams

Pat Winslow


This is a very strong list and will give us much pain in the coming month!



The 2014 Café Writers Commission in collaboration with Ink Sweat & Tears

This year the winning entry from the Café Writers Commisssion, which has been expanded to cover the whole of the United Kingdom, will become the second collection to be published by our newly established Ink Sweat & Tears Press. And while we are very grateful to Gatehouse Press who have been publishing the Commission winners for the last five years, we are equally excited by the opportunities offered by this brand new venture.

For those not familiar with the Commission, Café Writers invites all entrants to submit twelve pages of poetry and a 400 word proposal that outlines your approach for creating new work for the pamphlet.

The prize this year includes £2000 and 100 copies of the pamphlet to sell as you wish.

For an application please click here. Please read all details carefully and please note that we cannot accept submissions or the handling fee (£10) on-line

Please note: We will accept entries postmarked with the 28th February deadline date even if they arrive a few days later, so no need to consider a last minute Special Delivery charge!