Sakinah Hofler has been awarded the £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize while the Poetry Prize judges awarded £5,000 each to joint winners Romalyn Ante and Laura Webb.

Organised by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Manchester Writing Competition is the UK’s biggest prize for unpublished writing.

The winners of this year’s awards were revealed at a gala ceremony on Friday 1st December in the atmospheric Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in the heart of Manchester.

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

Prizes like these are needed to continue to elevate the importance of the written word and of art. Art is what lasts. Art tells us the truth when history won’t. And now, as always it seems, art is necessary during these troubled political times.

Hofler was awarded the Fiction Prize for her story ‘even the kids know better’. She lives in Cincinnati in the USA and is a former chemical and quality engineer who now spends her time teaching and writing fiction, screenplays and poetry.

Ante and Webb each submitted a collection of their poetry. Ante, who grew up in the Philippines and moved to the UK in 2005, received the Creative Future Literary Awards for Poetry in 2017. Webb, born in Birkenhead and now living in London, has completed a PhD in contemporary poetry and won the 2006 Blackwell Publishing/The Reader magazine ‘How to Write a Poem’ competition.

Sakinah Hofler, winner of the 2017 Fiction Prize, said: “I’m blown away right now. When I was shortlisted for the Poetry Prize last year, part of me was convinced it was a fluke.

“To be shortlisted again, this time for fiction, to know that my work, my words, continue to touch an audience gives me life. I’m grateful for the judges for seeing the potential in my work. I’m grateful to be among the company of the other finalists.

“I am grateful for Carol Ann Duffy for establishing this prize; prizes like these are needed to continue to elevate the importance of the written word and of art. Art is what lasts. Art tells us the truth when history won’t. And now, as always it seems, art is necessary during these troubled political times.

Laura Webb, joint winner of the 2017 Poetry Prize, said: “Poetry is a light in the world and one I’m immensely grateful to have, especially in challenging times. Poetry is where I have always felt most at home, and this award will allow me to spend more time in that home and, I hope, to welcome others into it. I’m so grateful, and hugely proud to have been a part of the competition.

“I want to thank everyone involved – the judging panel, Adam, Pascale and Mona, for being inspirations for my own work as well as selecting me for this prize – to Dame Carol Ann Duffy for creating both the prize, and so many poems which inspired me to write as I grew up. I sincerely thank the shortlisted poets and fiction writers, who it is a privilege to have been shortlisted alongside. As much of my recent writing aims to celebrate and pay thanks to fascinating, courageous women through history, this award is dedicated to them as sources of great strength and inspiration.”

Nicholas Royle, Reader in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, who judged the Fiction Prize alongside writers Bonnie Greer and Angela Readman, said:

“We felt privileged and humbled to read the innermost thoughts of these wordsmiths.”

Also shortlisted for the Fiction Prize were K. L. Boejden, P. F. Latham, Hannah Vincent, Dave Wakely and Jane Fraser.
Adam O’Riordan, Academic Director of Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, who chaired the Poetry Prize panel that featured former winners Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit, said:

“Mona and Pascale worked incredibly hard and produced a shortlist which reflected the quality of submissions to this year’s competition.”

The other Poetry Prize finalists were Ella Frears, Don Judson, Carolyn King and Lindsay Means.

The Manchester Writing Competition will return in 2018 with a special edition to celebrate 10 years of its Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes – and 20 years of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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