1st Alakazam - Claudia Daventry, St Andrews, Scotland
2nd La Peregrina - Nick MacKinnon, Winchester, Hants
3rd Mortality - Nikki Zielinski, Ohio, USA
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
Two Trees - Daisy Behagg, East Preston, W Sussex
Borrowed Light - Charles Bennett, Market Harborough, Leics
Sherbet Lemons - Alan Buckley, Oxford
A slice of lemon - Carol DeVaughn, London
My Camel - Emma-Jane Hughes, Chichester, W Sussex
Pylons, 1929 - Kim Lasky, Uckfield, Kent
Barley Lane - Hannah Lowe, Newcastle
Memory Foam - Andrew Martin, Plymouth
Cormorant Fishing - Amali Rodrigo, Mumbai, India
Cooking with Elizabeth Craig - Mary Woodward, St Albans, Herts
1st Being David - Helen Barton, Worcester, Worcs
2nd The Armadillo - Ruth Figgest, Seaford, E Sussex
3rd Jugged Hare - Lizzy Welby, London
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
The Things That Never Happen - Darci Bysouth, Edinburgh
Blue Summer Dress - Peter Caley, Ilfracombe, Devon
Aurora Borealis - Eva Ciabattoni, Baden, Austria
Mating Week - Ruby Cowling, London
Robert, I Suppose - David Foll, Ham, Middlesex
Foundling - Sophie Green, Woodbridge, Suffolk
So Long, Marianne - Sandra Jensen, Co Cork, Ireland
Big Mary and the Kraft Cheese Slices - Martelle McPartland, Armagh, N Ireland
The War With Canada - Mel Murphy, Seattle, USA
Tsunami Debris - Naomi J Williams, California, USA
1st Nearly New - Gregory Jackson, London
2nd Girls - Arthur Wang, New York, USA
3rd Number Forty Three - Jacky Taylor, Portsmouth, Hants
Highly Commended (alphabetical order)
The Time It Takes - Peter Howe, Stourbridge, W Midlands
Monster Hospital - Sophie Mackintosh, Narberth, Wales
Popping Your Cherry - Sarah Taylor, Haddenham, Bucks
Dorset Award Winner
For Roy (poem) - Elaine Beckett, Bridport
Winners 2012 - Biographies (alphabetical order)
Helen Barton grew up in London but now lives in Worcester. She studied English and European Literature at Warwick University and, after teaching English in Japan, returned to study for an MA in English Renaissance Poetry at York University. Helen has had a variety of jobs ranging from teaching adult literacy and numeracy, working in a publisher’s office and running a project in South London for young people with learning difficulties. She currently works in the careers department of a local school and has also published a series of literary quiz books. Helen has travelled in South East Asia Australia, the USA and South America where, completely unprepared and ill equipped, she managed to walk the Inca Trail. She is married and has three children.
Her publications include ‘Writing In Chalk’ Harper’s Bazaar October 2009 after winning Orange Harper’s Bazaar short story competition and ‘Writing In Chalk’ was broadcast in Opening Lines BBC Radio 4 July 2011.
Elaine Beckett has a background in music and film. In 2009 she joined a poetry writing class in the village of Cattistock, taught by Annie Freud. In 2010 and 2011 Elaine’s poems reached the shortlist of the Bridport Prize. Last year she attended a master class at Ty Nwydd with the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and the Welsh laureate, Gillian Clarke. She has given readings in Bridport and Cattistock and at the New Art Gallery in Walsall. She has contributed poems to the Ty Nwydd anthology Taking Tea with Taliesen and the forthcoming Cattistock Poets Pamphlet, due to be published later this year.
Daisy Behagg grew up on the south coast near Brighton and now lives in Bristol. She has a BA and MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Daisy has published poems in The Rialto, Poetry Wales, The North and Ambit and was shortlisted for The Edwin Morgan Prize 2012.
Charles Bennett is an award-winning poet and broadcaster. He has completed seven books of poetry, collaborated with musicians, photogra- phers and artists. He worked with choral composer Bob Chilcott, and his libretto for The Angry Planet featured in the 2012 BBC Proms, leading to a stint as Poet-in-Residence on BBC Radio 3. Born in the North West of England, he was a mature student in the 1980s at London University and the University of Massachusetts, where he was mentored by Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky. He taught English and Drama before becoming the first Director of Ledbury Poetry Festival, which he established and ran for a number of years. He is currently Reader in Poetry at the University of Northampton where he leads the BA in Creative Writing.
His second full-length collection, How to Make a Woman Out of Water, appeared with Enitharmon in 2007. His poems have featured in over 150 poetry magazines and also The Times Literary Supplement. He is currently working on a non-fiction book set in North Norfolk.
Alan Buckley, originally from Merseyside, moved to Oxford in the 1980s to study English Literature and has lived there ever since. His debut pamphlet Shiver (tall-lighthouse) was a Poetry Book Society choice in summer 2009. In 2010 he won first prize in the Wigtown Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize. He previously won a Bridport Prize commendation in 2009. Alan works as a psychotherapist, and as a writer in residence at a local secondary school. http://poetry.brookes.ac.uk/performance/poet/alan_buckley
Darci Bysouth is originally from the ranchlands of British Columbia, but now works as a children’s literacy teacher in Edinburgh. Her stories have taken first place in the Lorian Hemingway, Bridge House and Grace Dieu competitions, as well as shortlisting for the Bristol and Fish prizes. She is currently working on her first novel. Her stories have been published in a number of collections and online, including New Writing Scotland, issue 30 and Bristol Prize Anthology, vol 3.
Peter Caley lives in Devon, works in a bookshop, and plays lead guitar in a jazz/blues band. He received an Ian St James Award for his story ‘The Day The Wolfman Ate My Sister’, and his short fiction has appeared in a Real Writers anthology, New Writer magazine and literary magazine Brittle Star. A novel, In The Land Of The Black Sun nears completion.
Eva Ciabattoni is a freelance writer, editor and translator living in Austria. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she continued her education at the Stanford University Writer’s Studio. After spending nearly 20 years in Silicon Valley, California, she has been employed by the Language Services department of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe since 2009. She has published feature articles and book reviews in a number of fields. A member of Vienna Writers, she is currently at work on a memoir.
Ruby Cowling, originally from Bradford, now lives in north London. She studied English Literature at the University of Sheffield and Critical Theory at the University of Sussex. She is working on her second novel while the first matures in a drawer, and her shorter work has appeared in various literary journals in the UK and US. rubyorruth.wordpress.com
Claudia Daventry graduated from Oxford and then worked as a copywriter in several ad agencies, and freelance, before she stopped all that to read, write, translate, teach and raise her three daughters, cat and two dogs – not necessarily in that order. She got on to the performance circuit while living in Amsterdam and hasn’t looked back, treading the fine (and debatable) line between stage and page. She has also lived in France and Spain and travelled to a lot of other places in between, and in 2007 she moved from the Netherlands to Scotland to study at St Andrews. She is currently on the committee of StAnza, Scotland’s poetry festival, and is working on a PhD on translation in poetry with Don Paterson and John Burnside.
Publications include Bridport Anthology in 2006 and 2007 and Arvon International Poetry Competition, 2006. Three short plays were performed at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews in 2011/12.
Carol DeVaughn is an American-born poet who has lived in London for many years. Her poems have been published in anthologies, journals and magazines. She has won several prizes for her poetry; ‘Hag’, in Brittle Star (issue 19), is on MP3. She is currently working on her first collection.
Ruth Figgest was born in Oxford and lived for some time in the USA where she attended school and university. She has a post-graduate diploma in Audiology and in 2008 she was awarded an MA with merit in Creative Writing and Personal Development from the University of Sussex. She currently teaches creative writing in Seaford and in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
Ruth has written one children’s novel: The Hamish Stories, and three novels for adults: The Moon Invaders, My Brother Antonio and Poking Phil. The latter was one of the winners in a Writers and Artists Yearbook novel competition. She has also completed a linked short story collection entitled Magnetism, as yet unpublished. The story ‘Armadillo’ is part of this collection and in 2011 the title story was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Two other stories, ‘Long Enough’ and ‘The Party Wall,’ were previously long-listed. Ruth belongs to a number of wonderful writing groups. She lives in Seaford and works as an audiologist at hospitals in Brighton and in Lewes.
David Foll has had a long career in TEFL, during which he has written and published many teaching books. He has travelled widely in South- East Asia, where he studied Javanese music and dance. He has also done extensive research into the British presence in Java in the early 19th century, and written a full-length play for theatre on the subject (focussing on the dramatic life of the young Thomas Stamford Raffles, future founder of Singapore). Currently, he is writing a historical novel. He has also written a biographical play for theatre about the composer Benjamin Britten, centred on the writing of his final opera Death in Venice. David Foll also writes short stories.
Sophie Green writes short stories, children’s fiction, comedy and plays. She has a degree in Zoology and an interest in folklore. Her novel The Last Giant was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2011. Her short stories have been published in Lip; an anthology for IP1 magazine, and on Ether Books. She was born and still lives in Suffolk and works in a public library. www.thelastgiant.com
Peter Howe (b.1951) is Front of House Coordinator for the Glasshouse Arts Centre in Stourbridge. Situated in a former glass factory, it is run in collaboration with Glasshouse College, an independent specialist college for young people with learning and behavioural difficulties, many with Asperger syndrome. Peter began writing seriously, poetry and prose, only three years ago after studying on the MA in Social Sculpture at Oxford Brookes. www.peterhowe.wordpress.com
Emma-Jane Hughes was born in Middlesex in 1977, raised on a barge on the River Thames, and now lives in Wittering with her husband and their two children. Emma-Jane is currently running creative writing workshops in Arundel and Eastbourne, whilst completing her BA. She remains indebted to the lecturers in the English and Creative Writing department of the University of Chichester, and to her colleagues in the Something Literary writers’ group. www.winkmedia.co.uk Her poem ‘An experiment to ascertain the heat source between two objects’ was the overall winning submission to The Modern Mind – A Creative Writing Anthology published by the University of Brighton, 2012.
Gregory Jackson was educated in London and read English at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, where his poetry appeared in The May Anthology and The Times. He was subsequently awarded a Daiwa Scholarship and worked in Tokyo for the Asahi Evening News, writing on subjects including whaling, motorcycle design and exorcism. He now lives in London, where he works as a translator.
Sandra Jensen was born in South Africa and has lived in England, Canada, Greece and Germany; currently she lives in Ireland. Her work has been published in AGNI, The Unthology, Sou’Wester, Word Riot, The Irish Times, Versal, Flash Fiction Magazine, Fleetings and others. She won the 2012 bosque Fiction Prize and the 2011 J. G. Farrell Award for best novel-in-progress. Sandra received a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland in 2012 and a Canada Council for the Arts Grant to Professional Writers in 2010. She edits Slice of Life a non-fiction flash journal and moderates ‘Diving Deeper’ an online group for writers. She is working on her first novel, a literary adventure set in war-torn Sri Lanka. In her spare time she tries to save the slow loris from extinction and dogs in Bosnia from abuse.
Kim Lasky is a poet and teacher, facilitating creative writing in a variety of settings. Her pamphlet what it means to fall was published by tall-lighthouse and she is currently working on a science-inspired collection. Other work has appeared in journals in the UK and the US, and in 2011 won the Agenda poetry competition. www.kimlasky.com
Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford, but now lives in Newcastle where she is studying for a PhD. The Rialto published her pamphlet The Hitcher in 2011. Her first full collection is forthcoming with Bloodaxe in Jan 2013.
Nick MacKinnon came second in the 2009 Bridport Prize and confirmed his status as a Kathryn Grainger of poetry by coming second in the 2009 Plough, the 2010 Edwin Morgan and the 2010 McLellan. In 2012 he has won the Hippocrates Prize and Poetry on the Lake, been commended in the Edwin Morgan, and has two poems on the Keats-Shelley shortlist. He is a teacher of Maths and English at Winchester College. ‘La Peregrina’ grew round a joke in Caitlin Moran’s review of Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime.
Sophie Mackintosh is a freelance editor based in London, and an alumnus of the Warwick Writing Programme, graduating last year. Her work has appeared in Neon, A-Minor and Notes from the Underground, amongst others. She recently finished her first novel.
Andrew Martin (b.1977) was born in Bristol where he remained until 1996, then leaving for college in Carmarthenshire. After completing a HND in wildlife illustration he moved to Plymouth, Devon where he currently lives. Outside his full-time occupation as an Associate Practitioner within the NHS, poetry has taken precedence in his creative life. He has had poems published in Fire magazine, three poems commended in the Leaf books 2011 poetry competition, runner up in the Leaf books 2012 ‘Turning over a new leaf’ poetry competition. He was one of the six short-listed poets for the inaugural Venture Award poetry pamphlet competition 2012 and has had a poem commended in the 2012 Hippocrates poetry and medicine competition, published in the winners and commended poems anthology. He is working towards a first collection.
Martelle McPartland trained as a nurse and spent three years working in the Accident and Emergency Department of Belfast City Hospital where she came into close contact with the devastation caused by sectarian conflict. Drawing on these experiences she began to write and in 2001 completed her MA in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast.
Propelled by her experiences she initiated ‘Everyday Lives’ a Peace 2 project which resulted in an anthology of stories and images created by children affected by the Troubles. Martelle now works as a Creative Writing Tutor and Facilitator for writing groups
Martelle has recently completed her first play and is currently collabo- rating with other artists on a short film exploring creativity against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s culture and traditions.
Mel Murphy has lived in Seattle for over eight years. She grew up in sunny northern California and Nevada. Former day jobs include: wildland firefighter, newspaper reporter, environmental group volunteer, organic farm labourer and technical writer. Her ‘Gator Country’ short story was published by Encounters Magazine (sci-fi/horror short stories) in spring 2010 (http://www.blackmatrixpub.com/)
Amali Rodrigo was born and grew up in Sri Lanka. She has a BA in Econometrics and is currently working towards an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Having lived in Mozambique and Kenya, she is now based in Mumbai, India. She has won 2nd Prize in the Poetry London competition and her work has appeared in Poetry London, Magma and PN Review.
Jacky Taylor is an arts education specialist and has worked in school, university and community settings. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University and her work has been published in Something Was There, the 2011 Asham anthology (Virago), The Best of Everyday Fiction 3 (Everyday Publishing 2009-2010) and numerous places online including Foundling Review and The Pygmy Giant. She lives in Portsmouth where she is currently working on a novel and a collection of short fiction; she loves being by the sea.
Sarah Taylor was born in Nottingham and now lives in Buckinghamshire. She recently completed an Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University. She has just written a play, which she describes as gruesome, fast moving, occasionally funny and rather sad. Earlier this year, she performed some of her work at the Oxford Literary Festival.
Arthur Wang recently completed an MSt in English and American Studies at Worcester College, Oxford. He attended Princeton University as an undergraduate, and wrote a collection of short stories advised by Edmund White.
Lizzy Welby is a creative and critical writer specialising in the works of French academics Julia Kristeva and Hélène Cixous and is a Council Member of the Kipling Society. She was a high school English teacher both in the UK and in Paris then swapped working life for study after the birth of her second child. She has a Master’s Degree with the Open University in Paris and a PhD with the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Published works include academic papers and chapters on James Joyce (forthcoming), Angela Carter, Sylvia Plath and Rudyard Kipling. She has also written the Introduction to a new selection of Kipling’s verse for the Collector’s Library Series. Lizzy lives in London with her French partner. She is currently working on her first novel set on the remote Breton island of Ouessant as well as an academic study of Julia Kristeva. http://eastanglia.academia.edu/LizzyWelby
Naomi J Williams’s short fiction has received a Pushcart Prize and has appeared widely in literary journals such as One Story, A Public Space, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California at Davis. She lives and works in northern California. Her blog can be found at naomijwilliams.wordpress.com.
Mary Woodward has published poems in many magazines including the North, Ambit, The London Magazine, Stand, and The Shop. Runner up, at various times, in the National, Arvon, Strokestown and Troubadour com- petitions. One pamphlet, Almost like Talking (Smith Doorstop ‘93) and a new collection next year from the Worple Press. She is a member of the Mary Ward poetry group, Queen Square WC1, and lives in St Albans.
Nikki Zielinski’s recent poems appear in Birmingham Poetry Review, PANK, and New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she was the Northwest Review Fellow/Associate Editor and recipient of the Miriam McFall Starlin Poetry Prize, and has since been awarded scholar- ships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Vermont Studio Center, a Centrum New Works Residency, and an autumn 2012 residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She has recently completed her first collection of poetry, tentatively titled Paper Covers Rock, and is working on a series of essays exploring the connections between pop music, folktale, and classical poetic genres. Having lived all over the United States, she currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where she is a freelance writer, tutor and editor.
I was delighted that there were so many entrants for these prizes this year – over six thousand for the short story category and nearly two and a half thousand flash fictions. Most writers write what they like to read and the breadth and depth of the entries gave the lie to the myth – surely kept alive by publishers, for whom the form rarely makes a profit – that the short story is as defunct as antimacassars.
I was faintly aghast at the numbers too, knowing more dedicated souls than I had read through quite so many stories in order to select the ones that arrived on my doormat in Cornwall. Judgements are always subjective on these occasions and I found I had to be quite brutal. Of the entries, I set aside whatever bored or failed to surprise me and whatever I felt I had already written several times before. The stories that weren’t set aside, I placed into a definite and a maybe pile, only to find that I ended with double the permitted definites. So then I had to become tougher still and discard the stories which had won through on originality but which, on a closer reading I had to admit ended limply or contained stylistic infelicities an editor would have scalpeled out.
Lizzy Welby’s ‘Jugged Hare’ wasn’t the only story to touch on abortion but by framing an abortion a mother is keeping secret from her family with an almost forensically detailed account of that same mother skinning, gutting and jointing a hare with which to feed her loved ones, she refreshed an all-too familiar narrative trope in a profoundly disturbing way which deftly expanded our understanding of her central character.
In ‘The Armadillo’, Ruth Figgest similarly demonstrates how to make a story about more than one thing at once. Her astute young heroine faces the prospect of plastic surgery to render her looks more pleasing to her lovingly fault-finding mother but simultaneously arrives at a new under- standing of the state of her parents’ marriage and the ambivalent purpose she has to serve within it.
In the winning story, ‘Being David’, Helen Barton does something ostensibly very simple yet actually extremely difficult to pull off. She leads us through an uneventful day in the life of a young man I assumed to be autistic (although, wisely, she never spells out the details of his condition). David lives with his loving but fairly hopeless mother and spends several hours in day care with other young people living with a range of syndromes and afflictions. What makes Barton’s account of his day extraordinary, and funny, is her dizzyingly tight-focus evocation of his understanding of it. His obsessive counting and rearranging of letters and the tyranny of private rituals which hem in his every action and decision stayed with me for days. Fiction at its best takes the reader into other minds in a way that will transform their own and Barton does that here, resisting sentimentality or political correctness.
This year’s flash fiction entries were a revelation to me, perhaps because this is a form I have never knowingly practised. I could never have predicted that their overall standard of writing, wit and originality would be higher than the short stories, but this was undoubtedly the case. The envious professional in me was left longing to know how many of the writers were indeed writing for a living, or attempting to, and how many were merely cruelly gifted dabblers... The three winners, Gregory Jackson (‘Nearly New’), Arthur Wang (‘Girls’) and Jacky Taylor (‘Number Forty Three’) demonstrate that making a narrative extremely short need not involve sacrificing style, wit or emotional wallop!
I like very much the Bridport Prize’s way of allowing the judges to read entries anonymously. I was sent the shortlist to judge and because my assessment was entirely unclouded by the issue of who wrote what, the experience was of hearing several hundred iterations of poetry as a voice: a sound that’s wider, richer and more exciting than the personality of any one writer. I’d like to thank Candy Neubert for her hard work winnowing these finalists from the complete pool of submissions, a task she performed with enthusiasm, logic and discrimination. She mentions one poem which made her laugh out loud with joy. I hope it’s the one I chose as overall winner for the same reason.
There was huge variety of strategies, style, tone and voice in the poems I read. As ever, the No pile was usually easy to add to, as was the Yes. The real difficulty and anxiety for me came in the Maybe pile and its more subtle gradations: Yes/Maybe, Maybe/No, though I didn’t indulge myself in a Maybe/Maybe. I came away from reading the poems, taken together, with a positive impression of the human ability to respond thoughtfully to life in all its aspects. However, feeling warm and cuddly in response to a particular insight was not enough to save a poem from the No pile if that sentiment came from a source outside of its realization in the poem itself. There was much evidence of loveliness in perception, a close attention to the world even through sorrow, but this is not the only requirement of poetry. Similarly, I enjoyed the anecdotes which formed the backbone of many of the poems but, in the end, I had to decide if they had been used in ways which made them of general, rather than personal interest. I asked myself: Is this a story that sheds light on the human condition, or is it interesting to the poet mainly because it happened to him or her?
I tested the Maybe pile for accuracy of observation. Call me a pedant, but I lose interest in poems that use lazy logic and slack details. It’s hard enough to keep a reader – even a highly motivated one like me – that you don’t want to give her an excuse to part company with your page. There were many more poems in the Maybe pile than in Yes and some migration between them as I re-read and digested. If I had to name one quality that separated the poems in the one from the other it was how fully bedded the experience described was in the poem itself. Was the poem itself an occasion?
‘Mortality’ was a deceptively simple poem – straightforwardness is, after all, one of the most cunning of styles and very tricky to pull off. The poem describes keeping terror at bay in language which isn’t the least bit ‘poetic’, always a good sign, in my book (unless you’re deploying that kind of language with intent and control). The words fill the shell of the form beautifully, with no bagginess and ends with a tightening of the metaphorical screws: ‘the quarter moon swings like a scythe.’ Yes it does.
In second place, I chose ‘La Peregrina’, the name of a pearl. This intelligent and rewarding poem tells of the jewel’s formation and travels through the glamorous but dangerous worlds of royalty, empire and Hollywood. This trajectory, which ends with ‘galaxies boiled dry like unwatched pans’ sheds light on human vanity, greed and lust for beauty. The poem is original, memorable and, again, fits its form snugly.
‘Alakazam’ stood out as a winner from my first reading. Here is a poet who is confident enough to pull off a conjuring trick, with the necessary delight for the reader. The poem is a description of love but, if that sounds mushy, you’re in for a series of surprises. It’s like the sea and ‘the white froth of Normandy lace’ but it’s also ‘the dirty slick/ -black, thick – that clogs feathers, air; bug-eyed creatures gag on it.’ We then move into the depths to ‘the boom of the deep’ and hideous deep-sea fish. To love is to feel ice and ‘dull stones/ each one heavy as a curse.’ I recognize this as the dark side of regard, it’s the rabbit ‘that won’t be pulled out of a hat by its ears.’ And then, at the end, the poet shows his or her subject escape the poem: ‘Love jumps out and darts under the table.’ Bravo! Here’s a poem that has the relish, technique and poem-ness that deserves the first prize this year. Ta-da!