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The shortlist for this year’s Manchester Writing Competition has been revealed – the UK’s biggest prize for unpublished writing.

Organised by Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, £10,000 is awarded each year to winners of the Manchester Fiction Prize and Manchester Poetry Prize.

The full shortlist for each Prize, including a bio of each writer, and each shortlisted entry is available on the Manchester Writing Competition website.

Launched in 2008 by Poet Laureate and Creative Director of Manchester Writing School Carol Ann Duffy DBE, Manchester Writing Competition has attracted more than 15,000 submissions from over 50 countries and awarded more than £135,000 to its winners.

The competition encourages new work and seeks out the best creative writing from across the world, with Manchester as the focal point for a major international literary award.

The winners of this year’s £10,000 Poetry and Fiction Prizes will be revealed at a gala ceremony on Friday 1st December in the atmospheric Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in the heart of the city.

The Poetry Prize was judged by Adam O’Riordan and former winners Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit. The Fiction Prize was judged by Nicholas Royle, Bonnie Greer and Angela Readman. Other former winners include Helen Mort, whose victory in 2008 launched her now award-winning poetry career.

Nicholas Royle, speaking about the Fiction Prize, said: “The judges read moving stories about people on the move, memorable stories about people with memory problems, and a science fiction story about a character called Charlie Parker who, sadly, did not play the saxophone.

“We read a small number of stories that were not much longer than Ernest Hemingway’s famous – or even apocryphal – six-word story and an enormous number of stories that were exactly 2,499 words long, the image in one’s head of author after author bent over a keyboard in the middle of the night, stabbing repeatedly at the delete key to get under the 2500-word limit. Mostly we felt privileged and humbled to read the innermost thoughts of these many hundreds of wordsmiths.”

Adam O’Riordan, speaking about the Poetry Prize, said: “This was another strong year for entries. The judges read work across a range of themes; with the mammalian and the avian in abundance. Mona and Pascale worked incredibly hard and produced a shortlist which reflected the quality of submissions to this year’s competition.”

2017 Poetry Prize shortlist (in alphabetical order)
Romalyn Ante
Romalyn Ante grew up in the Philippines and moved to the UK in 2005. Her debut poetry pamphlet is Rice & Rain. She is a Jerwood/Arvon mentee 2017-2018. She is Commended in Battered Moons Poetry Competition and received Creative Future Literary Awards for Poetry in 2017. As a recipient of Artists’ International Development Fund, she travelled back to the Philippines in November 2017 to write about culture, identity, and reconnections, and to talk about her craft at De La Salle University, Manila.

Ella Frears
Ella Frears is a poet and visual artist based in south-east London. She has had poetry published in Poetry London, The Rialto, POEM and the Moth among others. Ella is a trustee and editor for Magma Poetry and was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London 2014. She has completed various residencies for Tate Modern, the National Trust, Newlyn Art Gallery and most recently she was Poet in Residence at Royal Holloway University writing about the Cassini Space Mission. Ella’s debut pamphlet Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity is forthcoming with Goldsmiths Press.

Don Judson
Don Judson is a poet and fiction writer living in Attleboro, MA, USA. His writing honours in fiction include a Howard Foundation Award, a MacColl Johnson Fellowship and an Emerging Fiction Writer Award (for a novel) from New York University. Among others, he has won a 49th Parallel award and the Boudreaux Prize for poetry and been nominated for three Pushcart Awards. Poetry publications include Rhino, The Bellingham Review, 580 Split, Palooka, Witness, Tupelo Quarterly, and Nimrod.

Carolyn King
Carolyn King lives on the Isle of Wight, where two of her poems are cast in bronze at Island landmarks and others are currently displayed at Freshwater’s ‘Dimbola Lodge’ as part of the 19th-century pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition. Carolyn was involved educationally for many years with language-impaired children and this is often reflected in her poetry. Since being shortlisted for the Manchester Prize in 2013 she has taken first prizes in the Second Light annual competition and the ‘formal’ category of Poetry on the Lake, second prizes in the Thomas Gray Tercentenary, the Segora and the Sentinel annual poetry competitions and a number of other awards.

Lindsay Means
Lindsay Means was born in California and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Winner of the 2015 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, she works as an editorial assistant at Riverhead Books.

Laura Webb
Laura Webb was born in Birkenhead in 1985. In 2006 she won the Blackwell Publishing/The Reader magazine ‘How to Write a Poem’ competition. She completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and a PhD on contemporary poetry at Sheffield University. Among other places, she has had poems published in CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets, Best Friends Forever, Poetry Ireland Review, The Manchester Review, Magma, Poems in Which, Poetry Wales, Stand, and The Rialto. She lives and works in London.

2017 Fiction Prize shortlist

Kim L. Boejden
Kim L. Boejden was born in South Korea, grew up in Denmark, studied in Paris, and now lives and works in Norway. He finds the arctic cold and darkness almost as inspiring as the cafés in Paris.

Jane Fraser
Jane Fraser lives in the small village of Llangennith, on the Gower peninsula, south Wales where she co-directs NB:Design agency by day and writes at every other opportunity. She has a Creative Writing MA from Swansea University and a PhD for a collection of short fiction entitled The South Westerlies. She is a winner of the British Haiku Society and Genjuan International Prize for haibun. She has been a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition and Fish Memoir Prize, been longlisted once for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize and seven times for the Manchester Fiction Prize. Her work has been published in prize-winning anthologies including Accent and Momaya Press, and by New Welsh Review and The Lonely Crowd. She is grandmother to Megan, 8, Florence, 7, and Alice, 3, who think it cool that, “Grandma’s been going to school to write stories”.

Sakinah Hofler
Sakinah Hofler is a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati, where she is a Yates Fellow. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from Florida State University, where she was a recipient of the Kingsbury Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eunoia Review and Counterexample Poetics. A former chemical and quality engineer, she now spends her time teaching and writing fiction, screenplays, and poetry.

P. F. Latham
Now in his 86th year, P. F. Latham grew up in the war and won his first prize for writing aged ten years and ten months (one is precise at that age). A reader all his life, he has been a soldier (briefly), a management consultant, director of a Housing corporation, and then Town Clerk at Stratford upon Avon. Currently he has a children’s story on offer to half a dozen literary agents and a love story to another set of agents. So far none has offered to take on either book.

Hannah Vincent
Hannah Vincent began her writing life as a playwright after studying drama at the University of East Anglia. She worked as a child-minder to help fund her MA in Creative Writing at Kingston and is currently carrying out doctoral research in creative and critical writing at the University of Sussex. Her first novel Alarm Girl was published by Myriad Editions in 2014 and her second The Weaning – about a psychotic child-minder – is forthcoming from Salt in February 2018.

David Wakely
Raised in South London, Dave Wakely has worked as a musician, university administrator, poetry librarian, and editor in locations as disparate as Bucharest, Notting Hill and Milton Keynes. Currently a freelance copywriter/editor after completing a Creative Writing MA, he lives in Buckinghamshire with his civil partner and too many guitars. His short stories have appeared in Ambit, Best Gay Stories 2017, Chelsea Station, Fictive Dream, Glitterwolf, Holdfast, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Prole, Shooter and Token. A poetry salon MC and one of the organisers of Milton Keynes Literature Festival.

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