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“Every one of them is world-class”: Manchester Writing Competition 2023 shortlists announced

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Poetry Prize and Fiction Prize make up UK’s biggest award for unpublished writing

As palpable anticipation grows for the 2023 Manchester Writing Competition results, the long-awaited shortlist for the UK’s biggest awards for unpublished writing has been announced.

The two six-strong shortlists feature emerging writers from across the UK, New Zealand, USA, and the Netherlands, demonstrating Manchester’s status as an international centre for creative writing.

Founded by Carol Ann Duffy in 2008, the competition is now in its fifteenth year and holds a prestigious reputation nationwide for bringing together literary creatives from across the globe and highlighting the very best in contemporary writing.

The Manchester Poetry Prize

Malika Booker, award-winning poet and Creative Writing Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, will lead the judging panel for this year’s Poetry Prize, accompanied by renowned poets Clare Shaw and Momtaza Mehri.

When discussing the shortlisting process, Booker said: “The poems we have chosen both attend to, and break with, form, irrepressible in their varied approaches to movements and turns. These risk-taking poems disrupt our expectations at every turn by pushing at the limits of language with intertextual depth.

“History, violence, kinship, wit, humour and tenderness flow through these poems, as they illuminate the mundane and spectacular, their imagery lingering with the reader long after the last line.”

With this year’s shortlist of poems tackling a plethora of topics, each entrant has managed to unearth elements of the human condition, creating a distinct relationship between reader and writers, and revealing the power of poetry as a tool for profound connection.

Booker continued: “These are disarming poems, haunting poems, ones that sneak up on you, confronting your expectations and defences. They reveal themselves anew again and again. These are outstanding poems that demonstrate the quality of contemporary poetry.”

2023 Manchester Poetry Prize Finalists

D A Angelo 
Elena Croitoru 
Shakeema Edwards 
Debra Marquart 
Katie O’Pray 
Tracey Slaughter 

The Manchester Fiction Prize

The Fiction Prize will be judged by esteemed writer Lara Williams, alongside novelist and journalist Laura Barnett, and writer Oliver Harris, all of whom are lecturers in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School.

After receiving over 1,000 entries for this year’s competition, Williams describes the selection process of finalists into a shortlist as “near impossible”. She said: “Each of the pieces challenged us to think, feel and reflect on the people we are and the world we live in.

“These stories stand as testament to the rude health of the short story form right now, in the UK and around the world. Every one of them is world-class.”

With the Manchester Writing Competition taking place at a time of global disarray, with escalating political conflicts and uncertain conclusions, this year’s shortlist explores a number of challenging themes including identity, race, family, and mental health.

When asked about the quality of this year’s entries, Williams excitedly asserts that: “The stories are of overwhelming quality and eclecticism and have shown such an incredible breadth of imagination, emotional resonance and technical expertise.”

2023 Manchester Fiction Prize Finalists

Edward Hogan 
Dayal Kindy 
David McGrath 
Nicholas Petty 
Chloë Philp  
April Yee 

The competition is immensely respected across the literary community, with the prizes providing significant support for up-and-coming writers.

Through being shortlisted, writers gain important exposure, with their stories or poetry collections attracting potential agents and publications. Winners receive vital funding for their work, equipping them with a significant head start into the writing industry and gaining broader support. This allows writers to focus on their writing and immerse themselves in their work.

As an international UNESCO City of Literature, Manchester provides the perfect backdrop for this highly anticipated competition. 

The Manchester Writing Competition is a testament to the deep-rooted literary heritage of Manchester Metropolitan University. The competition showcases the exciting future of contemporary writing, celebrating diversity and internationality in one of the UK’s best-loved crucibles of culture.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on December 8, hosted at Manchester Met’s Grosvenor East building, home to Manchester Writing School and Manchester Poetry Library, and the ceremony will be live-streamed for the first time this year.

Read the 2023 shortlisted stories

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Elizabeth Clark

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