2004 judges

Short Story Judge: Jim Crace

Novelist Jim Crace was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1946 and was brought up in north London.

He read English Literature as an external student at London. He began writing fiction in 1974 and his first story, 'Annie, California Plates', was published by the New Review, a literary journal edited by Ian Hamilton. He became Writer in Residence at the Midlands Arts Centre and in 1983 he directed the first Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers.  His first book, Continent (1986), consists of seven interconnected stories set on an imaginary seventh continent, exploring Western attitudes to the Third World. It won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. The Gift of Stones (1988) portrays a coastal Stone Age community threatened by Bronze Age technology, while Arcadia (1992), his third book, is set in an imaginary British city in the future. 

Signals of Distress (1994) explores the events surrounding a shipwreck off the Cornish coast in the 1830s, and won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Quarantine (1997), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, is a reworking of the biblical account of Jesus's 40 days spent in the wilderness. Being Dead (1999) narrates the murder and physical decomposition of a couple on a remote beach, interpolated with episodes from their life. The novel won the Whitbread Novel Award, the National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (USA) and was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize for Fiction and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

 One of Jim Crace's books, The Devil's Larder (2001), consists of 64 short fictions about food. Extracts from the novel had previously been published as The Slow Digestions of the Night in 1995. His novel, Six (2003), charts the sexual history of actor Felix Dern, whose seemingly perfect life is blighted by the fact that every woman he sleeps with bears his child. 

Jim Crace was awarded the E. M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1992 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. In 2000, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Central England for Distinguished Literary Achievements. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and two children. His latest novel is The Pesthouse (2007), a love story set in a future America.


Poetry Judge: Paul Farley

Poet Paul Farley was born in Liverpool, England in 1965 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art.

He won the Arvon Poetry Competition in 1996 and his first collection of poetry, The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (1998), won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award and won a Somerset Maugham Award. He was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 1999.

He received an Arts Council Writers' Award in 2000 for his new collection of poems, The Ice Age (2002), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and won the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2003. In 2004, he was named as one of the Poetry Book Society's 'Next Generation' poets. Further collections are Tramp in Flames (2006) and The Atlantic Tunnel: Selected Poems (2010).

Paul Farley was writer in residence at the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, from 2000-2002, and currently lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. He also writes radio drama, and several plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio. Field Recordings: BBC Poems 1998-2008 (2009), gathers all his broadcast poetry from the last ten years, with author notes. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. He has also contributed articles on arts and literature to many national newspapers.

In 2007 he edited John Clare (Poet to Poet), and in 2009, his book of non-fiction, Edgelands: Journeys into England's Last Wilderness (2010), written with Michael Symmons Roberts, won the 2009 Jerwood Prize for Non-Fiction.

His latest poetry collection is The Dark Film (2012).

The day I got the email to say I had received a Highly Commended Prize for my poem from the Bridport Arts Centre was like finding the caramel sweet in the box of Cadbury’s Roses, after years of getting the slightly yucky orange, strawberry and coffee ones.

We decided to make hay while the sun shone and make the journey from Ireland to attend the prize-giving, we packed up Granny, 3 year old and husband and hit the sky and road early on the day of the big event. We were all so delighted we did, the lunch and presentations were just lovely, we were made to feel so welcome. It was a real treat to hear the judges and prizewinners speak and read from their work, forget the Roses we were having fancy posh chocolate now.

Maresa Sheehan, (Ireland) Highly Commended, poetry competition 2017

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