Two international shortlists have been announced for the Manchester Poetry Prize and Manchester Fiction Prize, which together make up the 2023 Manchester Writing Competition, the UK’s biggest awards for unpublished writing.

The two six-strong shortlists feature emerging writers from across the UK, New Zealand, USA, and the Netherlands, demonstrating Manchester’s status as an international centre for creative writing.

Set up by then Poet Laureate and current Creative Director of Manchester Met’s Manchester Writing School Professor Carol Ann Duffy in 2008, the competition has awarded more than £220,000 in prize money to writers since its launch.

The two awards celebrate Manchester as an international city of writers, find diverse new voices, and create opportunities for writer development. Each year, two £10,000 prizes are awarded to new and established writers: the Manchester Poetry Prize for the best portfolio of poems, and the Manchester Fiction Prize for the best short story.

This year marks 15 years of the competition which has helped to accelerate the careers of previous winners and finalists including Mona Arshi, Helen Mort, Alison Moore, Pascale Petit, and Momtaza Mehri.

The Fiction Prize judges said that choosing the shortlist “seemed near-impossible” while the Poetry Prize judges commended entries as “outstanding poems that demonstrate the quality of contemporary poetry”.

2023 Manchester Poetry Prize Finalists

  • D A Angelo
  • Elena Croitoru
  • Shakeema Edwards
  • Debra Marquart
  • Katie O’Pray
  • Tracey Slaughter

2023 Manchester Fiction Prize Finalists

  • Edward Hogan
  • Dayal Kindy
  • David McGrath
  • Nicholas Petty
  • Chloë Philp
  • April Yee

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on December 8, hosted at Manchester Met’s Grosvenor East building, home to Manchester Writing School and Manchester Poetry Library, and the ceremony will be live-streamed for the first time this year.

The Poetry Prize judging panel is chaired by Malika Booker, award-winning poet who recently won Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Met. The panel was completed by poet Clare Shaw, and Momtaza Mehri, poet and independent researcher and winner of the Poetry Prize in 2019 and this year’s Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Booker said: “What unites this year’s shortlisted portfolios is their remarkable singularity. The poems we have chosen both attend to and break with form, irrepressible in their varied approaches to movements and turns. These risk-taking poems disrupt our expectations at every turn, by pushing at the limits of language, with intertextual depth.

“History, violence, kinship, wit, humour, and tenderness flow through these poems, as they illuminate the mundane and spectacular, their imagery lingering with the reader long after the last line. These are disarming poems, haunting poems, ones which sneak up on you, confronting your expectations and defences. They reveal themselves anew, again and again. These outstanding poems that demonstrate the quality of contemporary poetry.”

The Fiction Prize judging panel is chaired by Lara Williams, award-winning writer, and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Met. The panel was completed by Laura Barnett, novelist and journalist, and writer Oliver Harris, who are both Senior Lecturers in Creative Writing at Manchester Met.

Williams said: “One and a half thousand stories of overwhelming quality and eclecticism, these stories have showed such an incredible breadth of imagination, emotional resonance and technical expertise. Each of them challenged us to think, feel and reflect on the people we are, and the world we live in.

“Whittling it down to a shortlist seemed near-impossible, though we are confident we have unearthed some stories that will linger in the mind of the reader; by turns mesmerising, explosive, haunting, innovative, eye-opening and unforgettable. These stories stand as testament to the rude health of the short story form right now, in the UK and around the world. Every one of them is world-class.”

The prizes have been crucial in supporting emerging writers at getting a foothold in the industry, providing winners with some financial security to focus on writing full-time, as well as attracting literary agents and getting novel or collections published. The competition also cements Manchester’s status as an international UNESCO City of Literature.

A list of highly commended long listed entrants was also selected by the Poetry judges, and comprise of entrants from across the globe including Austria, America and Australia.


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