James Pollock and Ian Dudley have won the Manchester Writing Competition 2020, the UK’s biggest prize for unpublished literary work.
Pollock, a Canadian poet and critic, wins the Manchester Poetry Prize, and short story author and PhD student Dudley is awarded the Manchester Fiction Prize.
Devised in 2008 by Professor Carol Ann Duffy DBE to encourage new work and seek out the best creative writing from emerging talent across the world, Manchester Writing Competition is run by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she is creative director.
Each winner receives £10,000 and they also join a glittering list of former Manchester Writing Competition winners whose literary careers have been boosted by their awards, including Mona Arshi, Helen Mort and Alison Moore.
Duffy congratulated the winners from two six-strong shortlists in a special video released to coincide with the announcement.
The judges hailed the “formal skill, marvellous musicality and depth of thought” of Pollock’s formal, eight-line poems inspired by everyday objects; and Dudley was praised for his “elusive yet at the same time accessible story” ‘Exit Row’.
Pollock said he was “moved and honoured” to win the Manchester Poetry Prize, while Dudley said that it is “impossible to overestimate the energising effect of a quiet pat on the back” represented by winning the Manchester Fiction Prize.
Pollock was chosen as the Manchester Poetry Prize winner by a judging panel chaired by the Forward Prize-winning poet Malika Booker, who is Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan; Arshi, who won the same prize in 2014, and poet Mimi Khalvati.
A poet, critic and academic based in Wisconsin, USA, Pollock’s first collection Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press, 2012), was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award in Poetry, and winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association.
I am moved and honoured that my poems have been awarded the 2020 Manchester Poetry Prize, and I tip my hat to the talented poets on the shortlist, for whom many future honours are in store.
His poems ‘Lighter’, ‘Scale’, ‘Screw’, ‘Sewing Needle’ and ‘Microphone’ were described by judges as “an exquisite piece of machinery, mirroring its subject, every cog and wheel finely oiled and finely dovetailed.”
Booker said: “These poems could only have been written by an accomplished poet with a wonderful ear. These poems were delicious on the tongue and we had pleasurable moments reciting the words aloud in order to savour and celebrate these compact poems, that are, in a way, metaphors for poetry itself.”
Pollock said: “I am moved and honoured that my poems have been awarded the 2020 Manchester Poetry Prize, and I tip my hat to the talented poets on the shortlist, for whom many future honours are in store.
“My profound gratitude to the esteemed judges, Mona Arshi, Malika Booker, and Mimi Khalvati, for their commendation; to the staff at the Manchester Writing School who worked on this year’s competition; and to Carol Ann Duffy, sine qua non of this major prize that has done so much to support the creation of outstanding new work, and to bring it to the attention of readers around the world.”