1st Arrivederci Les - Kitty Aldridge, London
2nd Trying to Think in the Bantustan - Kevin Parry, Seaford, E Sussex
3rd Dinner At Benutti's - Barrie de Lara, Norwich
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
Elephants Aren't Forgotten - Sheila Barrett, Dublin
The Last Place You Look - Tray Butler, Atlanta, USA
Half-Life of a Stolen Sister - Rachel Cantor, New York, USA
Some Times - James Kinase, London
Love by proxy - Justine Mann, Norwich
Wishbone Duty - Dave Pescod, Cambridge
Methlahem - Peggy Riley, Whitstable, Kent
Saul Kaplan's Midrash - Martha Schulman, New York, USA
European Monetary Union - Bernadette Smyth, Dundalk, Ireland
The Long Straight Road - Pat Winslow, Hailey Witney, Oxon
1st Meeting the Lobster - Becky Tipper, Fredericksburg, USA
2nd More Like A Sister - Robert Maslen, Thornton, Bradford
3rd The Christmas House - Samuel Wright, London
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
North End, 2010 - Stace Budzko, Massachusetts, USA
Vampires - John Glenday, Drumnadrochit, Scotland
Filament - John-Paris Kent, London
1st Endowments - Terry Jones, Carlisle
2nd Caesarean - Andrew Slattery, NSW, Australia
3rd Queen - Sean Borodale, Oakhill, Somerset
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
The Lanternfish - Lindy Barbour, Carnwath, Scotland
One Step at a Time - Liz Bassett, W Kilbride, Scotland
The Letter - Ronald Carey, Dublin, Ireland
Kingfisher on a Tram - Julia Deakin, Flockton Moor, Yorkshire
At the Traffic Light by the Old Folks’ Home - Birgit Elston, Hamilton, Canada
Giving Alms to the Birds - Rebecca Perry, London
Lecture - Lesley Saunders, Slough, Berkshire
The Perforation Gauge - Paul Stephenson, London
The Egret - Christian Ward, Kingston-upon-Thames
It has come to our attention that this poem, The Egret, is a direct copy of a poem published by the Australian poet, Debbie Lim, in 2009. An explanation for this has been asked of Christian Ward.
The Man - Anna Woodford, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dorset Prize Winner
Hare Maker - Alan Chedzoy, Weymouth
Winners 2011 – biographies
Kitty Aldridge was born in the Middle East but grew up in England. A graduate of the Drama Centre, London, she has since worked in theatre, film and television as an actress and writer. Her first novel, Pop (Cape, 2001), was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002 and shortlisted for the Pendleton May First Novel Award 2002. Her second novel, Cryers Hill (Cape) was published in 2007. Her third, A Trick I learned from Dead Men, will be published in summer 2012. She has two children and lives in London.
Lindy Barbour lives in rural Lanarkshire and teaches counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Edinburgh. She began writing poetry at a writing workshop with Liz Lochhead which was part of a staff development programme at Glasgow School of Art where she was working as a student counsellor. Last year she attended a Faber Poetry Academy course in Edinburgh with John Burnside and Jacob Polley Published work: ‘Small town summer evening’ in Gliberagora. Glasgow School of Art, 2007, ‘Small Town Christmas’ in The Gift of Words, Sick Kids Friends Foundation, 2009. (winner of the competition for a Christmas poem in aid of this charity.)
Sheila Barrett grew up in Dallas, Texas. She was educated in Texas and New York and moved to Ireland with her husband, John Barrett when he returned to Dublin. She has tutored, run writing workshops, taken screen- writing and archaeology courses, worked in retail and run after children. She has published two novels, Walk in a Lost Landscape and A View to Die for. She was a finalist, Glimmer Train short story competition, 2002. She has had stories broadcast on RTE and on BBC Woman’s Hour. She is now writing and chasing grandchildren.
Liz Bassett lives in Glasgow. Her pamphlet How to Wire a Life for Love is published by Knucker Press. Her poems have been published by The Red Wheelbarrow, Agenda Broadsheet, The Guardian Poetry Workshop and in several anthologies. In 2010 she was mentored through the Clydebuilt scheme. More details of her writing can be found at www.wordhappening.blogspot.com
Sean Borodale has been Northern Arts Fellow at the Wordsworth Trust, Guest Artist at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, and teaching fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. His first book, Notes for an Atlas, a long topographical poem written while walking around London, was recommended in the Guardian Summer Books 2005 and performed in 2007 at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, directed by Mark Rylance as part of the first London Festival of Literature. Recent projects include a residency at the Miro Foundation, Mallorca and a documentary poem about livestock markets, extracts of which were performed at Bristol Old Vic in 2010. He lives in the West Country with wife and two sons.
Stace Budzko has been published in Versal, Redivider, Upstreet, Necessary Fiction, Prime Number, Hint Fiction, Press 53, PANK, Hobart, elimae, The Los Angeles Review, Night Train, The Collagist, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, Brevity & Echo, Quick Fiction, Southeast Review and elsewhere. The screen adaptation of his story, ‘How to Set a House on Fire’ was recently awarded Best in Show/Best Overall/Best Drama at Spotlight Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and Westport Film Festival respectively. At present, he is a writing instructor at Emmanuel College as well as writer- in-residence at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. His weekly writing craft column is at Grub Street Daily.
Tray Butler is a journalist and illustrator who has written short stories, essays, critical reviews, hard news and humour pieces for a wide range of outlets in the U.S. and the U.K. His travel guide, The Moon Atlanta Handbook, was published by Avalon Travel in 2009; the second edition arrives in 2012. Tray recently completed a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from The University of London’s Birkbeck College. His short story, ‘We Look for the Resurrection of the Dead,’ appears in the autumn 2011 edition of The Mechanics Institute Review.
Rachel Cantor’s stories have appeared in nearly 20 literary magazines in the US, including the Paris Review, One Story, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Fence and the New England Review. She has been resident at the Yaddo, MacDowell, Hawthorden and a number of other artists’ residencies. ‘Half-Life of a Stolen Sister’ is the title story of a novel-in- stories currently in progress. She lives in Brooklyn.
Ron Carey was born in Limerick and lives in Dublin. He has had poems published in New Irish Writings, the Irish Times, The Story Thursday Book and Revival and numerous magazines. He was a runner-up in the Fish International Poetry Prize 2010 and had two poems shortlisted in the Bridport Poetry Prize 2010. He has recently been Highly Commended in the iYeats Poetry Competition 2011 and shortlisted for The Lightship International Poetry Prize 2011. He is studying for a Master of Philosophy in Writing at Glamorgan University with Philip Gross and working on his firs poetry collection.
Alan Chedzoy is an independent scholar, historian and biographer, living at Weymouth in Dorset. An authority on the Dorset dialect, his broadcasts and recordings of the poems of Barnes and Hardy have received high praise from the critics. For many years he has given lectures and poetry readings in villages and towns throughout the county. An ex-county councillor, he is an honorary alderman of Weymouth.
Julia Deakin was born in Nuneaton and worked her way north via Shropshire, the Potteries and Manchester to Yorkshire where she began writing poems on a poetry MA. Her pamphlet The Half-Mile-High Club was a Poetry Business Competition winner and her collection, Without a Dog, was praised by poets as diverse as Anne Stevenson and Simon Armitage. Widely published and broadcast, she has read on ‘Poetry Please’ and won several first prizes, including four this year. She teaches at Bradford University.
Barrie de Lara grew up in rural Essex, and attended Westcliff High School in Leigh-on-Sea, and Pembroke College, Oxford where he read Oriental Studies. He studied Classical Chinese with Raymond Dawson, and Tibetan under Trungpa Tulku. For many years he has worked as a teacher of various things – singing, cookery, Latin – but mostly of English as a foreign language, and as an examiner for Trinity College, London. He has also had a variety of temporary occupations. He is married, has four children and two grandchildren, and lives in Norwich. He loves old churches and sailing vessels and has sung in choirs for more than fifty years.
Birgit Elston’s writing has appeared in the Canadian Authors Association, The Saving Bannister, Poetry Anthology vols. 24 and 25, as well as on the CBC ‘Sunday Edition’ and in the Hamilton Spectator. She has won prizes in several Ontario writers’ contests for both short fiction and poetry. Birgit started writing late in life but, recently retired, she is working fervently to make up for lost time.
John Glenday is the author of three collections of poetry. His latest (Grain, Picador, 2009) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for both the Ted Hughes Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. He is a judge for the 2011 National Poetry Competition.
Terry Jones, originally from Bradford, now lives and works in Carlisle. A keen fell walker, he appreciates the proximity of the Lake District. Married with three grown-up children, he has recently left a career as lecturer in English Literature for independent work as a private tutor and freelance writer. Terry won first prize in the 2001 Ottakars/Observer national poetry competition and has twice been highly commended in the Mirehouse competition. His poems have been published in Poetry Review, Agenda, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Magma, Iota, Envoi and others. His first short collection, Furious Resonance, was published in 2011.
John-Paris Kent (also known as JP) lives in Peckham in south London opposite a great pub called the Gowlett. He currently works part-time as a producer at Sky News but is just about to live in Paris for a year. He started writing short stories and flash fiction last year after enrolling on a course taught by Zoe Fairbairns at City Lit. He is currently working on a novel called The Chemistry of Surfaces.
Justine Mann is a fiction writer, creative writing tutor and careers adviser. She is currently working on a novel, a first draft of which was completed while studying creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Justine’s short stories have been published, she was shortlisted for the Bridport fiction prize in 2008 and won 2nd prize in the Fish International Short Story Prize in 2007. She lives in Norwich with her partner and son.
Robert Maslen comes from Bradford and is married with four daughters. He has a doctorate in the psychology of language, funded by Germany’s Max Planck Institute, and makes his living from studying the metaphors people use in everyday language. Robert writes short stories, poetry and stories for children. His poem ‘Mt Odeon’ was anthologised in The New Victoria: Heirloom to a City (New Fire Tree Press, 2010).
Peggy Riley is a writer, playwright and community artist living in Kent. She won third prize in Mslexia’s Women’s Short Story Competition, 2011. Her work has been published in Willesden Herald New Short Stories 2010 and can be found on the Ether Books app. As a playwright she has been commissioned and produced off-West End, regionally and on tour. She recently completed her first novel.
Kevin Parry was born in Umtata (now Mthatha), South Africa, but has lived in England since 1979. He holds a BA in History and History of Art from the University of South Africa and an MA in Education (Language, the Arts and Education) from the University of Sussex. He has two completed collections of short stories. He has also written a novella, radio plays and prose poems. He is currently working on a novel set in his native South Africa. He has won prizes/publication in Stand, twice in Ireland’s Fish short story competitions and this year’s is his third win in the Bridport Prize. His Bridport story ‘Trying to Think in the Bantustan’ comes from his currently unpublished collection When it was raining. The collection spans the Verwoertian Apartheid of the 1950s to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of 1995.
Rebecca Perry was born in London in 1986. She graduated from the Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester in 2008 with a master’s degree in Creative Writing, and now edits children’s books in London. Rebecca has had work published, most recently, in New Welsh Review, Smiths Knoll and The Rialto. She recently contributed to This Line is Not for Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry (Cinnamon Press). Her pamphlet Archimedes’ Principle is being published by Seren in February 2012.
Dave Pescod started writing jokes for BBC radio and monologues for in- flight entertainment while a student at the Royal College of Art. After running a greetings card company he began writing again in 2002, winning a short story competition and having ‘Rising Laughter’ broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Other prose has been published in Dreamcatcher, Transmission and Route magazines, highly commended in the Writers and Artists Yearbook and the Commonwealth Short Story competitions 2009. He was selected for the Royal Literary Fund Mentor scheme, also Norwich Writers Escalator Programme where he was awarded an Arts Council grant to complete his first novel. His first collection of short stories All Embracing will be published by Route this year.
Lesley Saunders has written several books and pamphlets of poetry, and had work published in many magazines including, recently, Frogmore Papers, Magma, Mslexia, Poetry News and The Rialto. She has held residencies, received poetry commissions and won major awards. She enjoys creating collaborations with painters, sculptors, dancers and other artists. She has performed at many venues and literature festivals. She was a founder member of The Bloody Poets and is a member of the Brickwork Poets.
Martha Schulman is a native New Yorker. Her stories and essays have been published in a variety of journals and she is a regular reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Her story ‘Zero to Thirty’ was published in the 2003 Bridport competition. She is a past winner of the Dora Teitelboim Foundation’s Jewish Cultural Award for her story ‘Full Half-heart: Notes of a Bad Jew’. She recently completed a novel, Italian Lessons. She has published ‘Poetry: Self-Help for People who Don’t Read Self-Help Books’ .
Bernadette M Smyth is a member of Dundalk Writers’ Group in County Louth, Ireland. In 2009 she won the Fish One-Page Story Prize. She was also a runner-up in the Fish Short Story Prize the following year. Her story ‘Digging Australia’ was broadcast on RTE Radio One as part of the 2010 Francis MacManus season. She was highly commended by the Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition in 2011.
Paul Stephenson grew up in Cambridge but now lives and works between north London and Maastricht in the Netherlands, having previously lived in France, Spain and Belgium. He is a member of the poetry workshop group, Highgate Poets. Had poems shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2009 and 2010 and published in numerous magazines including Magma, Poetry News, South Bank Poetry and Smiths Knoll. Most recent poems have appeared in 14 Magazine, The North, Poetry London and The Wolf.
Becky Tipper is originally from the UK, but now lives in Fredericksburg, Texas with her partner and young son. She is currently completing a PhD in sociology (based at the University of Manchester) and has published several academic papers. Earlier this year her first creative non-fiction essay appeared in the journal Literary Mama.
Christian Ward is a 31-year-old Kingston-based poet. He recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London and his work has been published in Iota, Poetry Wales and elsewhere. He hopes to release his first collection in 2012.
Pat Winslow worked for twelve years as an actor and left the theatre in 1987 to take up writing. Her recent poetry collections include Unpredictable Geometry and Dreaming of Walls Repeating Themselves, both published by Templar Poetry. Occasional forays into fiction include Iota and Comma Press’s Parenthesis as well as previous Bridport competition anthologies. Pat is currently working as a writer in residence at a prison.
Anna Woodford’s poetry collection Birdhouse (Salt, 2010) won the Crashaw Prize and was included in a round-up of the Guardian’s poetry books of the year. Her pamphlet Party Piece (Smith-Doorstop, 2009) was a winner of the Poetry Business Competition and her pamphlet Trailer (Five Leaves, 2007) was a Poetry Book Society Choice. She has received an Eric Gregory Award, an Arvon/Jerwood Apprenticeship and has recently completed a Leverhulme artist in residence post at Durham University’s Law School. She has a PhD in creative writing from Newcastle.
Samuel Wright is an English teacher working in north London. He has a cat, a wife, and a baby, all of whom he loves, although he fears the cat harbours malice towards the baby. His stories are frequently read at the Liars’ League events in London, and have won prizes from Unbound Press, the Writers and Artists Yearbook, and Spilling Ink, as well as being published in .Cent and Litro magazines. He is currently writing a novel about bomb disposal in Denmark.
I would like to thank all those who entered the competition for this year's Bridport Prize. This involved writers in making a commitment to a form which is remarkably demanding - short fiction. For pieces to succeed in such an exposed and unforgiving environment, they must offer the condensed observation and musicality associated with poetry and prose at its finest and display a carefully nuanced approach to narrative, voice and character psychology. An effective short story, or piece of flash fiction, delivers the impact of a novel in only a few thousand words, or only a few hundred. It is a singularity, a moment of remarkable meeting between reader and writer.
We can't be surprised, then, that even the tiniest misstep, or failure of tone, or the most minute dissonance in a phrase will be enough to undo a piece entirely. As an author myself, I would always hope this kind of mishap would be something I can catch before the work leaves me for the wider world, but every one of us has times when we let something slip and allow it be past recalling. I mention this because the pieces I have read in the course of judging were often of a very similar standard. The differences between winning and being commended, or being commended and going without mention were sometimes quite small.
Perhaps because entrants realised that the stakes were high within a short piece, many of them selected what might be considered naturally dramatic subjects - fatal illnesses, deaths, fractured family relationships, or mental states. The overall tone of the entries was dark and there was a sense of personalities and comforting roles being lost or badly damaged. This may, in part, reflect that we are living through disturbing times. And, most assuredly, dark and challenging topics can be very rich for exploration in short prose. I would point out that in the weaker pieces submitted, writers seemed to be relying on their choice of subject matter to do a good deal of their work for them. Almost anything can be dramatic, if the author makes it so. And almost anything can seem two-dimensional if it is handled poorly. Here and there, a writer had taken on material that was too difficult for them to currently master. Although this led to a degree of failure, I would want to make it plain that failing in this context - because of daring, an ambitious narrative, a drive to exceed one's limitations - need not, in the long term, be in any way a bad thing. Overcoming our fears and having expectations of our abilities can be key to our growth as writers.
Some authors fell down with clumsy phrasing, or with passages which didn't make their meaning sufficiently apparent and another pass might have placed them among those I'll be mentioning later. It is almost impossible to over-emphasise the importance of re-writing as an aid to any author. The process is sometimes appalling, sometimes tedious, but also deeply educational. It is in re-writing our own work that we actually discover who we are on the page and who we may come to be next time.
Having said this, I am delighted with and for my winners and hope their success pleases them and leads them on to greater things.
The flash fiction pieces were extremely penetrating and confident. Becky Dean's "Meeting the Lobster" genuinely takes the reader through a journey of increasing emotional identification and the title works well. (A number of writers seemed to have real difficulty finding a title that would help them.) "More Like A Sister" from Robert Maslen again works from title to final, beautiful line and establishes an unquestionable voice. "The Christmas House" is another piece full of well-realised voice and character with a neat pay-off. Congratulations to everyone.
Barry de Lara's third-placed short story, "Dinner At Benutti's" handles complex events and a large cast with clarity and assurance. It establishes a little world with its own habits and language and is entirely convincing. The denouement is presented without inappropriate sentimentality.
"Trying To Think In the Bantustan" by Kevin Parry approaches a vast area of political conflict, simply and meaningfully - partly through incident, partly through use of a young observer and partly through a very nicely created tone. Significant images and actions are highlighted skilfully. The final passage brings the piece to a proper conclusion.
"Arrivederci Les" is one of the few stories to exploit humour - always a quicksilver asset - with real dexterity. Kitty Aldridge finds a unique voice for her character and the interaction between the narrative and the narration is highly enjoyable. There's a real feeling here of someone relishing the act of writing in a generous, rather than a self-indulgent way. This is a pleasure the reader can share. The balance of black humour, observation and emotional impact is very satisfying.
Once again, my good wishes for the future to the winners, to those who have been Highly Commended and to those who were not, on this occasion, successful.
I hugely enjoyed reading the final list of poems for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2011 and was seriously impressed by the range and vitality of the poems, which I hope is reflected in my selection of 14 terrific poems. The 'top three' poems could all - on different days as I read and re-read them - have received first prize. "Endowments' always entranced with its beautiful litany of images for ageing, its balance between elegy and love poem; and yet managed to sign off, audaciously, with a last-line laugh. "Caesarean' has real poetic authority; a physicality of language which indicates the presence of a genuine poet. 'Queen' would have pleased the late Ted Hughes with its intensity of noticing, its scrupulous witnessing, and was thrilling to read. All three winning poems display risk, originality and the sense that they were necessary to write and I warmly congratulate their authors and also the other poets represented here.
Carol Ann Duffy