2015 Judges

Poetry Judge: Roger McGough

Roger McGough CBE, FRSL, was born in Liverpool and is one of Britain’s best-loved and prolific poets. He first came to prominence in 1967 when his work was included in the Penguin anthology The Mersey Sound: Penguin Modern Poets 10 which has since sold over a million copies.

Much travelled and translated, his poetry gained increasing popularity, especially from its widespread use in schools. He is twice winner of the Signal Award for best children’s poetry book and recipient of the Cholmondeley Award. 

In 1997 Roger was awarded an O.B.E. for his services to poetry and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University and an Honorary Professor at Thames Valley University. He has an MA from the University of Northampton and D. Litts from the universities of Hull, Liverpool, Roehampton and The Open University. He was recently honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.

Roger presents Poetry Please on BBC Radio 4 - the longest running poetry programme broadcast anywhere in the world. His latest book ‘It Never Rains’ is the 100th to be published.

"I hope to come across poems I wish I had written.

The kind of poems that excite me are the ones that have clarity and an element perhaps, of surprise. Although few poets today seem interested in employing the form, I enjoy rhythm and the reassurance of rhyme when used imaginatively. Obfuscation and dullness are killers.

I don’t want the poet’s voice get in the way of the poem, let it speak for itself.

 Not only should the heart be in the right place, but so must the words.

I know the excitement you feel having written the poem, and the courage required to enter this competition. Congratulations, I look forward to reading it."


Short Story Judge: Jane Rogers

Jane Rogers has written 8 novels including Mr Wroe's Virgins (which she dramatised as an award-winning BBC drama serial), Her Living Image (Somerset Maugham Award),  Island, and Promised Lands (Writers Guild Best Fiction Award).  Her most recent novel The Testament of Jessie Lamb was longlisted for the 2011 ManBooker prize, and won the Arthur C Clarke Award 2012.  

Her short story collection, Hitting Trees with Sticks was shortlisted for the 2013 Edgehill Award.

She also writes radio drama and adaptations. She is Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. www.janerogers.org

What am I looking for in the entries?

I’ll be looking for stories which use language with real precision, where every word counts. I’ll be looking for stories which create worlds I can believe in – be they realistic or fantastical – and which transport me into the lives and emotions of their characters. A good short story focuses on a singular, specific time or event, but allows the reader to glimpse the universal through that.

 

Flash Fiction Judge: David Gaffney

David Gaffney lives in Manchester. He is the author of several books including Sawn-Off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), Never Never (2008), The Half-Life of Songs (2010) and More Sawn-Off tales (2013). He has written articles for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine. 'One hundred and fifty words by Gaffney are more worthwhile than novels by a good many others.' The Guardian. See www.davidgaffney.org for more

 Statement

I'll be looking for stories that have a strong structure with a good sense of character, place, time, and purpose. Stories that hint of other things outside of the text, but also have a sense of completeness. Stories that leave me wanting to know more. Stories that resonate with meaning, even if the meaning may seem slightly out of reach. Stories that are brimming with ideas, stories which have a strong sense of forward movement. In fact, anything which is clever, engaging, uses language in an interesting way, and manages to tell a good tale in that tiny, cramped space that is flash fiction.

 

Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel Judge:
Jane Feaver

Jane Feaver is a novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, According to Ruth (Harvill Secker, 2007) was shortlisted for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award and the Dimplex Prize. Love Me Tender (Harvill Secker, 2009) was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Her latest novel is An Inventory of Heaven (Corsair, 2012). Jane has been a regular tutor in fiction writing for the Arvon Foundation and is a patron of the National Academy of Writing.  She is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Exeter.

What I’m looking for:

Most of all I’d like to be surprised into entering another world and finding that I can be at home in it. It is a riddle to describe - a world that has legs, a world that floats, and a world that echoes.