Short Story Judge: Zoe Heller
Zoe Heller was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford University and Columbia University, New York.
She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent. She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph and earned the title 'Columnist of the Year' in 2002.
She is the author of two novels: Everything You Know (2000), a dark comedy about misanthropic writer Willy Miller, and Notes on a Scandal (2003) which tells the story of an affair between a high school teacher and her student through the eyes of the teacher's supposed friend, Barbara Covett. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for fiction, and released as a feature film, starring Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench.
Zoe Heller lives in New York. Her new novel, The Believers, was published in 2008 and shotlisted for the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Poetry Judge: Michael Laskey
Michael Laskey was born in 1944, educated at Gresham’s School and St John’s College, Cambridge, worked as a teacher in secondary and further education in Spain and England for ten years and has lived in Suffolk since 1978. He is married to a GP and has three grown up sons.
He founded the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 1989 and directed it through its first decade. He stepped down as chairman in 2008. He also founded the poetry magazine Smiths Knoll with Roy Blackman in 1991 and since his death in 2002 has been editing it with Joanna Cutts.
In addition to ongoing issues of Smiths Knoll, his work as an editor includes The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Anthology 1989-1998 (Aldeburgh Poetry Trust, 1999) and a number of pamphlets – under the Smiths Knoll imprint: Hearing Ourselves Think by Philip Hancock (2008); The Devil’s Cut by Marianne Burton (a PBS pamphlet choice in 2007); Football on Waste Ground by Richard Kemp (2006); and The Watermen by Roy Blackman (2003). And from his Garlic Press Irresistible to Women (2003) and Just My Luck (2008) by Dean Parkin and Hooks Working Loose by Margaret Easton (2007)
As a poet he has published three pamphlets: Cloves of Garlic (1988), a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition; In the Fruit Cage (1997); and Living by the Sea (2007). His first two full collections were both Poetry Book Society Recommendations: Thinking of Happiness (Peterloo, 1991) and The Tightrope Wedding (Smith/Doorstop, 1999), which was also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Permission to Breathe (Smith/Doorstop, 2004) was followed in 2008 by The Man Alone: New and Selected Poems. In the spring of 2005 he was awarded an Arts Council International Writing Fellowship at the Banff Centre in Canada.
He is an experienced and popular performer of his work and has given readings at many festivals, arts centres, universities, schools, and prisons, for poetry societies and on writing courses in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
He is active as a freelance workshop leader, with adults of all ages, and in primary and secondary schools.