class="post-7930 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"INTERVIEW WITH HIGHLY COMMENDED
LIFE WRITING PRIZE WRITER Kerri Ní Dochartaigh

Kerri ní Dochartaigh was highly commended in the inaugural Life Writing Prize 2017 for ‘Mudlarking’, a piece of life writing that explores a violent Derry childhood, paying homage to the great Seamus Heaney. It was described by the judges as ‘very sophisticated in its exploration of form, very powerful writing, a clever mixture of the past and the present’.  Kerri shares her thoughts on her writing, her inspirations and Seamus Heaney.


Congratulations! How does it feel to have been highly commended in the Life Writing Prize? 

I am over the silvery moon to have been highly commended in this fantastic competition. I have such deep respect for the work that Spread the Word does for new writers and feel so grateful that Mudlarking‘ made its way into their supportive, encouraging hands.  It feels like I’ve made the first few steps on a brand new pathway with my work;  one that before now had been hidden entirely from my view.

Can you tell us a little about your highly commended piece, ‘Mudlarking’, how you came to write it, what the challenges were in writing it and why you chose to enter it into the Prize?

I started to write ‘Mudlarking’ the year I turned thirty when I finally accepted that if I didn’t write it I would simply never be being true to who I was. It started as a children’s book called ‘One for sorrow’, became a novel called ‘North’, was a very melancholic poem for a year and a half and then, in the course of one week in the winter we have just buried, became ‘Mudlarking’; a piece in the shape and form I now feel brave enough to work with. Before now I have hidden behind misty words that were indecipherable. Now I am ready to own my story and share it, and so the journey is only really beginning, both for ‘Mudlarking’ and for me. I entered it into the competition on the advice of a very dear friend who wept after hearing it and begged me to send it off. Out of respect for him and the piece, I did.

Tell us about your writing; how long have you been writing for, why do you write etc?

Writing is a part of my very deepest being, no matter what that holds. I remember being in bed very poorly as a young child and my Mam bringing me home a leather notebook with wee swans on the pages and a forest green pen. In that moment I suddenly forgot all about my headache and anything else around me, and knew then and there that I was a writer. I remember the feeling so clearly, like I’d been handed the whole world and all of its light into my eager, open, little girl hands. 

. . .  I write because I am. Because it’s all I know. Because I believe it fixes broken things and calls us to that point where the mirror meets the mire. It brings stillness in the chaos; beauty in decay. I write because I believe we are all going to be ok. I write because I want to see the sun rise in the light of hope, no matter how coal black the night may seem-again / again / again / again and again.

Do you have any tips for budding life writers out there?

I feel I’d be letting the whole of my island down here if I didn’t quote Seamus Heaney for this one; ‘I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written.’ Trust yourself. Be true to your experience. Listen to that wee voice when you first awaken in the soft glow of morning that tells you to write, write, write and to send that out into our wide, beautiful world. And swim under moonlight; always.

Are you working on anything at the minute?

I’m in the process of trying to put together many short life-writing pieces (of which ‘Mudlarking’ is one) into one longer piece with the hope that people will want to read it. I simply must write it, though, and that’s the most important part. 

Who are your writing inspirations? 

Seamus Heaney always and forever, Alice Oswald, Virgil, Paul Galicio, Roald Dahl, The entire ‘Caught by the River’ crew, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood,  Amy Liptrot. The list is ever growing. 


Kerri ní Dochartaigh was highly commended in the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize 2017. She is a writer living in a very north-westerly part of Ireland ,where the sky is grey and unbearably beautiful; where the land is folkloric and full of swansong. She read English Literature and Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has been published in some blogs and journals and she is currently shortlisted for the National Memory Day Poetry Prize. Her favourite bird is the curlew, her favourite Undertones’ song is ‘Get over you‘ and her favourite cup is mint green with a pale blue handle.
You can read ‘Mudlarking’ in the Life Writing Prize showcase.

class="post-7919 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"Interview with Highly Commended
Life Writing Prize writer Claire Lynch

Claire Lynch was highly commended in the Life Writing Prize 2017 by the judges for her breathtaking life writing extract ‘The Year Dot’. Judge Blake Morrison described it as: “beautifully written, moving, immaculately constructed.” Spread the Word asked Claire about her writing, how she found the form and method to write such a personal story and her future plans for ‘The Year Dot’. 


Congratulations! How does it feel to have been highly commended in the Life Writing Prize? 

I’m delighted and a little shocked! Recognition from the judges has been a great confidence boost and really encouraged me to develop the piece further. 

Can you tell us a little about your highly commended piece, ‘The Year Dot’, how you came to write it, what the challenges were in writing it and why you chose to enter it into the Prize?

My piece is about the far from straightforward journey to the birth of my twin daughters. It’s called ‘The Year Dot’ because their arrival seems like the beginning of time for me, but also because it already seems so long ago, even though they’re still tiny.

The main challenge for me was deciding how to tell such a personal story. I was really aware that the topics I needed to deal with were still almost taboo, infertility, miscarriage, premature babies. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I wrote it, I wanted to share the story with others who might be experiencing something similar.

Tell us about your writing; how long have you been writing for, why do you write ? 

This is the first time I’ve written anything like this so it’s been a real adventure. I began writing it in real time as it were, scribbling in notebooks at the side of a baby’s incubator, just as a way of making sense of it all. The competition gave me a reason to put some order on my thoughts.

Do you have any tips for budding life writers out there? 

I think finding the right form is probably essential. My piece is written in fragments because it seemed to best capture the experience for me. 

Are you working on anything at the minute?

At the moment I’m working on developing ‘The Year Dot’ into a longer piece, there’s lots more of the story still to tell.

Who are your writing inspirations? 

Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts has really changed my sense of what life writing is capable of. I’m also really inspired by graphic memoirs, most recently Paula Knight’s amazing book The Facts of Life.


Claire Lynch is a lecturer in English at Brunel University London. Claire lives near Windsor with her wife Bethan and their twin daughters. She enjoys running, which is lucky, as life with two toddlers provides plenty of practice. You can contact Claire @DrClaireLynch on Twitter.

You can read ‘The Year Dot’ in the Life Writing Prize showcase.

class="post-7897 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"Interview with Life Writing Prize 2017 Winner
Jon Paul Roberts

Hot on the heels of Jon Paul Roberts winning the inaugural Spread the Word Life Writing Prize 2017 for his ‘memoir-in-essay’ ‘1955 – 2012’, he shares his inspirations,  his top tips for fellow life writers, his memoir-in-essays project and much more…

Congratulations! How does it feel to have won the Life Writing Prize? 

It feels really crazy. I don’t think it’ll settle in for some time still. At risk of outing myself as some oddball dream believer, I had two dreams the week I was expecting to hear back. In the first, I got an email that said I was on the long list and in the second I got an email about being on the short list, so as corny as it sounds I didn’t even dream I’d win. It really is mad. As it happens, I spend a lot of my time watching Oscar acceptance speeches on YouTube when I’m trying to avoid writing, so I know it can be quite annoying when someone keeps saying they truly didn’t expect it, but I actually didn’t. It’s so thrilling and such an honour to have won. I really am over the moon.

Can you tell us a little about your winning piece, ‘1955 – 2012’, how you came to write it, what the challenges were in writing it and why you chose to enter it into the Prize?

Originally, I was writing a piece about my childhood obsession with Mark Paul Gosselaar who played Zack on Saved by the Bell and that essay still exists in a different form. But when I showed it to some people they weren’t really ecstatic about it. If I’m honest with myself I wasn’t either. My dad was in the peripheries of that essay and the people that read it said they wanted more about him but I wasn’t sure. I’d been reluctant to write about him because I found it too difficult. It was like opening myself up to stuff I thought I’d dealt with. I always thought that eventually I would write about him.

But I’m a terrible procrastinator, and instead of working on that essay I thought I’d see what I could write about my dad. I wrote about ten to eleven different small vignettes, I guess you’d call them that, about him. They came pretty freely but I didn’t really think much about them. I was just writing out memories as I remembered them. They weren’t polished or structured in any way really.

I asked my friend, Sam, if he’d take a look at them and tell me if he thought there was anything there. He read them and gave them back with some notes and I remember reading what he’d written on the tube home. He said he was impressed with how honest I’d been in what I’d written. I wasn’t sure what he meant so I read through what I’d given him and found myself crying on the tube. I didn’t realise how much of myself, my dad, and our relationship I’d put into what I’d written when I had been I hadn’t been considering that anyone would ever read it. It was a kind of breakthrough moment.

So, I polished off those small pieces and began to consider the order. I took out one or two and added in some new ones. I worked on it for a month of so, changing the odd word or the order and stuff. I think I was trying to put it off showing it to anyone. Eventually I did, and the people that read it said they really liked it. Then, when I found out about the prize from a friend of mine, I thought I might enter it but I still wasn’t sure. I remember actually saying I wasn’t sure if I would submit anything or not and my friend, Nina, was like ‘Shut up. Of course you’re going to submit something. It’s a life writing prize and you’re a life writer.’ And then it was decided! So, I sent it in.

Tell us about your writing; how long have you been writing for and why do you write? 

I came to writing in a kind of roundabout way. As a kid I wanted to be everything ever. I think my career aspirations changed daily. As a teenager I thought I maybe wanted to be an actor but as I got older I saw there weren’t really great parts for gay men. So, I looked into writing screenplays and tried to write a few of them. I went to LJMU and did my degree in Creative Writing as a way of getting better at writing scripts and that’s where I think I really began to call myself a writer. Liverpool was such an important place for me, in terms of harnessing my creativity and figuring out what I wanted to say. I worked on some screenplays there but I also found short stories and that lead me to creative non-fiction and life writing. When I told my tutor, Sarah, about my new love for memoir and non-fiction and she recommended Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. It’s such a beautiful work of memoir. It inspired me to really commit to writing my own and since then it’s been pretty non-stop. I’ve just thrown myself into reading and writing essays because I find them so fascinating.

Whenever I think of why I write, I think of the great Joan Didion’s essay where she says: ‘I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.’ I think that’s the best way I could put it… in Didion’s words because she’s far more eloquent than me.

Do you have any tips for budding life writers out there?

I feel like me giving advice would be bit like the blind leading the blind. I suppose the one thing I’d say, and that I’ve learned recently, is to be honest. It might sound kind of silly but I think it’s easier said than done. I feel like a reader can always tell when you’re holding back or not fully committing to what you’re writing about. I think if you’re going to write about something you have to go all in. Don’t hold anything back, let it all out, and that’s when I think you have the best results. That’s the kind of honesty I’m talking about. That would probably be my advice.

Are you working on anything at the minute?

I’m working on a multitude of things right now. I’m one of those people that likes to be busy and have all the plates spinning at once. My main focus though is what I call my ‘memoir-in-essays’ that I’ve been working on for the past year or so. 1955-2012 is part of that. Right now, it’s tentatively called Blue Roses, after The Glass Menagerie, and I think it’s about my influences. It’s about who and what made me the person I am today. So I’m writing about my parents, my Grandma (who is the strongest woman I know), the men I’ve fallen for, the places I’ve travelled to, and the various anxieties I have. Basically, when it’s finished, which will be soon hopefully, it’ll be a pretty comprehensive view of why I am who I am. I’m trying to be as honest as I can so it’s been a bit emotionally exhausting. Mining through your life and reliving things can be both cathartic and damaging I think. I have to put myself in that emotional state again, to write about it in the best way I can, and that isn’t always easy to come back from. That being said, as I’m writing the book and it’s getting closer to being finished I feel kind of liberated. As if all these things are being released and I can move on and grow up.

I’m also in the very early stages of writing a web series. I’m planning it and starting to write the first drafts of the scripts at the minute. It’s a modern day romantic comedy between two men. I have always loved romantic comedies, but gay men rarely get to fall in love in them. They work with Drew Barrymore at the magazine or make sassy remarks to Julia Roberts, they don’t really get to have any romance. They don’t get meet-cutes or grand gestures or anything like that. So I wanted to write something that would fight against that and would show gay men as romantic heroes, but also as messy and complicated individuals not just stereotypes. I think I’ve set myself quite a challenge, but I’m positive about the overall idea. There are people like Andrew Haigh, with things like Weekend or Looking, which are both brilliant. But I grew up on When Harry Met Sally and movies like that so I have always wanted to see two men in that kind of romantic situation.

I’ve got some great people working with me on it. My friend Tammy, who I met at university, is producing it and she’s looking into funding and everything like that. We’re working as a team to get it as good as it can be. It’s still early days but the working title is Singledom and we’re hoping it’ll premiere, online, during the summer of 2018.

I’ve also just embarked on a blog project to do with queer culture. I realised about a month ago that I hadn’t really read or seen much by queer artists. So I decided to seek out prose, poetry, film, TV, and music by queer people and to write about them. So far I’ve looked at people like Édouard Louis (whose novel The End of Eddy is so brilliant) and Richard Scott (who I love) and a few others. I’m so fascinated by pop culture and I find it interesting that there aren’t many queer voices in that space. I think that needs to change. So my goal is to highlight those voices, learn about queer history, figure out where we’re at, and look at where we’re going. Hopefully, maybe, a few people will find it as interesting as I do.

What are your goals as a writer?

Honestly, I just want to connect with people. I write about things that are painful or uncomfortable, or embarrassing, in the hopes that one that they might be useful to someone. I think, as well, writing for me has been so cathartic. For a long time, I was an incredibly private person, and I guess I still am, but when I write that all falls away. I remember, just after my dad died, a doctor recommended that I write my thoughts down as a way of processing them. I’ve always been very much in my own head and writing helps me get out of that. And, in an ideal world, those thoughts and feelings I put into my writing will help someone else one day. I think that’s my main goal as a writer, to connect.

Who are you writing inspirations?

My inspirations are a bit scattered. I find them in books, TV, film; everywhere really. I guess, in terms of writing, Nora Ephron will always be my number one. I’m so, wholeheartedly in love with her. Heartburn is one of my all-time favourites. It’s so funny and honest. Her essays are incredible too. She has this brilliant way of relating to a reader and she can really hone in on the particulars that make us who we are. She showed me how to take something serious, or life changing, or sad, and turn it into something positive. Every time I’m stuck with my writing I return to her books. In the same respect, Michelle Tea’s How To Grow Up had a big influence on me as I’ve been writing; it’s so beautiful and wise. I read it a year or two after my dad died and it really pulled me out of the hole I’d put myself in. It’s such an important book to me.

I find music incredibly influential. I listen to Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King almost exclusively when I write. They’re the soundtrack to my writing experience and I think they bleed into it. Their rawness and honesty is very inspiring. They have this intense power to place you in a feeling and keep you there for the duration of a song.

Then there’s Joan Didion, Mindy Kaling, Sharon Olds, Dorothy Parker, Kathleen Collins, Miranda July, Carrie Fisher, Ann Patchett, Sharon Horgan, Sloane Crosley, and I could go on and on. Women have been so prominent in my life. I was surrounded by strong women growing up, and many of my friends are women, and I think that has an effect on how I see things and what I connect with.


Jon Paul Roberts won the inaugural Spread the Word Life Writing Prize in 2017. He is an essayist, journalist, and screenwriter from Chester. He worked as an editor for a Liverpudlian literary magazine In The Red, as well as contributing to various sites and local publications within Liverpool. He has run events including launch parties, open mic nights for writers, and other readings. In his essays he hopes to find the line between his experiences and the forces that influenced him, whether that be film, television, family, or friends. He aims to find silver linings in darker moments by writing about them because, as his hero, Nora Ephron, said, everything is copy. @JonPaul13

You can read his winning piece ‘1955 – 2012’ in the Life Writing Prize Showcase.

class="post-7535 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news"The Winner of the inaugural
Life Writing Prize is…

….Jon Paul Roberts for his memoir-in-essay 1955 – 2012. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Lynch was highly commended for her piece The Year Dot, as was Kerri ní Dochartaigh for Mudlarking.

There are three writers on the shortlist: Kathy Hoyle for ScabGillian Haigh for Singing to Seals and Cathy Galvin for The Missing Sixth.

The six longlisted writers are: Topher Cambell for BATTYMAN: Growing up Black and Gay in the UKKaveri Woodward for NomadKashmir Tutt for Thin LizzyLizanne Davies for Attack of the White Van Woman and Sara Jafari for The Knob Head Question.

Read full biographies of all twelves writers here.

A selection of the Life Writing Prize winners are available to read and download in the Life Writing Prize showcase.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Out of 700 pieces of life writing entered for this year’s inaugural Life Writing Prize, ‘1955-2012’ by Jon Paul Roberts has been chosen as the winning entry, winning him £1,500, an Arvon course, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent. Judges Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead selected the winning piece from an astounding field of entries from emerging writers across the UK.

Blake Morrison commented:

The sheer volume of entries for a prize that’s in its inaugural year shows how popular a genre life writing has become. For writers who want to tell their own stories, or the stories of people close or important to them for some reason, fiction can seem a cop out – what’s needed is the charge of authenticity, the scars and the bruising of the real. The twelve pieces on the longlist are wide-ranging, evoking experiences that are diverse in terms of age, gender, nationality and ethnicity, as well as varying widely in style, structure and content. Some are funny, some sad, some traumatic, and all have much to commend them.

Margaret Stead added: 

It was wonderful to know that there were so many entrants. As is always the case, it is very hard to whittle down a strong longlist to one winner and indeed to select the top six. We liked the range and breadth of topics the longlist covered, although there were inevitably recurrent themes. Those which merely explored the ‘ordinary’ were to us no less powerful than those which addressed the larger issues of painful childhood memories, lives cut short, death. We enjoyed those which experimented with a secondary ‘intellectual’ idea alongside the life-writing. What judging this prize demonstrates is that the genre is being explored in new and interesting ways.

Jon Paul Roberts is an essayist, journalist, and screenwriter from Chester. He worked as an editor for a Liverpudlian literary magazine In The Red, as well as contributing to various sites and local publications within Liverpool. In his essays he hopes to find the line between his experiences and the forces that influenced him, whether that be film, television, family, or friends. He aims to find silver linings in darker moments by writing about them because, as his hero, Nora Ephron, said, “everything is copy”. He’s on Twitter @JonPaul13 .He described the feeling of having won the Prize:

This really is crazy! I haven’t been able to process it. It really means a lot to me that the judges responded to it so positively. It was a tough piece to write because it was the first time I’d tried to write about my dad since he passed away in 2012.

Claire Lynch is a lecturer in English at Brunel University London. Claire lives near Windsor with her wife Bethan and their twin daughters. She enjoys running, which is lucky, as life with two toddlers provides plenty of practice. You can contact Claire @DrClaireLynch on Twitter. She described how it feels being highly commended:

It is difficult to explain how grateful I am to Spread the Word for this opportunity. I am delighted and a little overwhelmed to have got this far in the competition. I’ve been an avid reader of life writing for as long as I can remember but this is the first time I’ve ever attempted to write it myself. It’s both encouraging and humbling to think that this extract might be the start of something more. I really can’t wait to meet my mentor and get going!

Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a writer living in a very north-westerly part of Ireland where the sky is grey and unbearably beautiful; where the land is folkloric and full of swansong. She read English Literature and Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has been published in some blogs and journals and she is currently shortlisted for the National Memory Day Poetry Prize. She says:

I am over the silvery moon to have been highly commended in this fantastic competition. I have such deep respect for the word that Spread the Word does for new writers and feel so grateful that ‘Mudlarking’ made its way into their supportive, encouraging hands. It feels like I’ve made the first few steps on a brand new pathway with my work; one that before now had been hidden entirely from my view.

Jon Paul Roberts becomes the winner of Spread the Word’s inaugural Life Writing Prize in association with Goldsmiths University, with support from Arvon and Royal Society of Literature. In its first year, the Prize received 700 entries from writers across the UK.  The competition was founded to provide a new accolade and support for emerging life writers. The judges were Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead.  The Prize awards a total of £2,500 prize money, and a package of writer development support for the top three writers. The competition recognises  self-contained or beginning extracts of longer life writing works that are previously unpublished by emerging writers with up to six professional (paid) publication credits, in an anonymised judging process. The judges discover the identity of the winners after making their final decision. The Prize was free to enter.


You can find out more about the Life Writing Prize writers on the Life Writing Prize page, including a fantastic selection of the top twelve entries to read at your leisure.

You can download the full press release here.

The Life Writing Prize 2018 will open for entries in Autumn 2017.

class="post-7545 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news category-news-opportunities"The Life Writing Prize 2017:
About the writers

Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize is a new award open to new and emerging writers in the UK, started by Spread the Word in 2017.

The winners of the Life Writing Prize were announced at a special event at Goldsmiths on 18 May 2017.

Congratulations to:



Winner
: Jon Paul Roberts for ‘1955 – 2012’

Jon Paul Roberts is an essayist, journalist, and screenwriter from Chester. He worked as an editor for a Liverpudlian literary magazine In The Red, as well as contributing to various sites and local publications within Liverpool. He has run events including launch parties, open mic nights for writers, and other readings. In his essays he hopes to find the line between his experiences and the forces that influenced him, whether that be film, television, family, or friends. He aims to find silver linings in darker moments by writing about them because, as his hero, Nora Ephron, said, everything is copy. @JonPaul13


Highly Commended: Claire Lynch for ‘The Year Dot’

Claire Lynch is a lecturer in English at Brunel University London. Claire lives near Windsor with her wife Bethan and their twin daughters. She enjoys running, which is lucky, as life with two toddlers provides plenty of practice. You can contact Claire @DrClaireLynch on Twitter.

 

 

 


Highly Commended:  Kerri ni for ‘Mudlarking’

Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a writer living in a very north-westerly part of Ireland, where the sky is grey and unbearably beautiful; where the land is folkloric and full of swansong. She read English Literature and Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has been published in some blogs and journals and she is currently shortlisted for the National Memory Day Poetry Prize. Her favourite bird is the curlew, her favourite Undertones’ song is ‘Get over you‘ and her favourite cup is mint green with a pale blue handle. Her website is: andyetthereissuchstillnessburieddeep.blogspot.com and she’s on Instagram at whooperswan

 


Shortlisted: Gill Haigh for ‘Singing to Seals’

Gill Haigh lives in Hackney, East London. For several years she has hosted an informal weekly writers’ group – laughingly called the ‘salon’ – in the living-rooms of various tiny flats around central London (she moves a lot). In 2016 she was short-listed for the Literary Consultancy’s Pen Factor prize for Singing to Seals, which she is now editing in the hope of finding an agent and getting it published. In 2013 she won the Commonword Prize for Diversity in Children’s Literature for her YA novel, Out of Water, which she’d written as an assignment for her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. After years of bar-work, beach-photography, waiting tables, cleaning, nannying, shop-work, being a (very inefficient) secretary, scavenging for and selling stuff, cooking, teaching, van-driving, farm-labouring, working in factories etc. etc., Gill retired from wage-slavery and these days she enjoys reading, writing and sleeping.


Shortlisted: Cathy Galvin for ‘The Missing Sixth’

Cathy Galvin has roots in Connemara and England. A journalist, she has worked on staff for Newsweek and the Sunday Times, where she founded the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. She is founder and director of the UK’s leading promoter of short fiction, the Word Factory. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including New Walk, Visual Verse, the Morning Star, London Magazine and Letter To An Unknown Soldier (Collins). In 2016, she published her second collection of poetry, Rough Translation (Melos Press), was artist in residence at the Heinrich Boll Cottage, Achill Island, and was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship. The Missing Sixth is part of a larger work set in England and Ireland, exploring her mother’s short life. cathygalvin.com

 


Shortlisted: Kathy Hoyle for ‘Scab’

Kathy Hoyle is a mature student at the Open University, currently studying for a degree in Creative Writing. She hopes to graduate next year.  She loves to write short, poignant stories and this year she has been long-listed for the Sunderland short story award and short-listed for the Bedford international writing competition.  Her work has appeared, in audio, on the Brum radio ‘Tall Tales’ programme and published in the Firefly literary magazine. She is currently working on a fantasy novella for Young Adults and a short story collection. She can often be found procrastinating on Twitter @kathyhoyle1 or blogging at kathyhoyleblog.wordpress.com

 


Longlisted: Kashmir Tutt for ‘Thin Lizzy’

Kashmir Tutt arrived in Birmingham, England aged 2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Integrated studies from the University of Birmingham. She is the second sibling of five and the eldest daughter, which was why she, as a Sikh girl, was ‘never allowed’ to do things her English contemporaries took for granted.

Her father was killed in a car accident in 1969 but he left a life-long imprint, and a second- hand stereo, from which her ethics and musical taste grew.

She gave up a twenty-five year career in the commercial sector to take up life, which has mostly been spent travelling, teaching, reading or dreaming. She enjoys music, gardening, house design and all things aesthetically pleasing. Kashmir is currently writing a humorous memoir set in the 1960’s and ’70’s (when the greatest music was produced), featuring a bilingual brummy upbringing, and a passion for the rock band Thin Lizzy.


Longlisted: Kaveri Woodward for ‘Nomad’

I began writing as a child. I fell in love with words. They were an escape. My first published work was a poem in a local competition anthology when I was fourteen. Then I stopped writing poetry and began writing essays. I started to write for myself again after my first child was born. It was unexpected. I snatched moments to write at the breakfast table or in bed late at night. Since then, my writing has begun to take on a life of its own. It has adventures. One day some poems ran off to the theatre to be read by actors. Another time, a girl made the words into a bharata natyum dance. My writing has travelled to the Czech Republic on a coach (http://www.bata-ville.com/main_2.html), it has put me in a film, and taken me to read to audiences at the Barbican & Tate Britain. Short fiction and poetry have journeyed in brown manila envelopes to the editors of literary reviews and magazines; other pieces have made it into anthologies and collections (http://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/red). Once in a while, my writing has been short and longlisted for prizes (Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2013 & Spread the Word Life Writing Prize 2017). I never know what it will do next. Words still provide an escape, but, they offer so many other things now. Most importantly, they are the start of a conversation. I’m just waiting to see who I’ll get to talk to next …


Longlisted: Topher Campbell for ‘BATTYMAN: Growing up Black and Gay in the UK’

Topher Campbell is a filmmaker, theatremaker, writer and actor. He has directed plays at numerous theatres across the UK. At 24 he won the Regional Young Directors Training Scheme Award and is a recipient of the 2005 Jerwood Directors Award. For television he directed Doctors and EastEnders. For BBC Radio Drama he established the Norman Beaton Fellowship. His short films The Homecoming (http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-homecoming-a-short-film-about-ajamu-1995/ ) and Mulatto Song have been shown worldwide. His documentary In This Our Lives The Reunion was Official Selection 2009 BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and at Pembe hayat kuirfest 2016 Istanbul. In 2000 alongside artist-photographer Ajamu he established rukus! Federation (http://rukus.org.uk ) creating the UK’s first and only BLGBT Archive. In 2008 rukus! received the Archive Landmark Award by London Metropolitan Archive. As writer Topher has written articles for Sable, AXM Magazine, QX Magazine, Gay Times, Attitude Magazine and The Guardian. Published work includes: For Colored Boys, Black and Gay in the UK, On Freedom: Powerful Polemics by supporters of Belarus Free Theatre. Between 2006-08 Topher was a Programmer for the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Between 2008-2015 Topher was artistic director of The Red Room Theatre and Film Company. Topher is currently a Patron of Switchboard  (switchboard.lgbt/patrons-2/) and stars in Different for Girls (http://different-for-girls.com/ ). DFG is nominated for a Diversity in media Award 2017 and is available to view on Lesbian Box Office.


Longlisted: Sara Jafari for ‘The Knob Head Question’

Sara Jafari is a writer, and former Flight 1000 Associate with Spread The Word. She writes short stories, and has written one novel. Sara has been published in Syrup Magazine, Tales Magazine, Flight Journal, Spread The Word and in gal-dem magazine She also works as an Editorial Assistant at Harper Collins, and runs her own literary and arts magazine TOKEN Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter: @sarajafari.


Longlisted: Deirdre Shanahan for ‘9 Days – Modes of Distraction’

Recently I won the Lightship publishing Novel Award and was 2nd in the Inaugural Spread the Word Short Story Award 2013 with subsequent publication in ‘Edgeways’ from Flight Press. Some of my fiction has been shortlisted for the Asham Award, the Willesden Herald Competition, Aidan Higgins Award and Elle Magazine.  I have had work read at Liars League, and The Word Factory, London.


Longlisted: Lizanne Davies for ‘Attack of the White Van Woman’

I have been writing for seventeen years, about the same length of time as I have been a Professional Driver. Born in London in 1967, I have lived in London for most of my life, mostly in the East End. Since I was little, I have been fascinated with cars and driving, always wanting to grow up to be a Lorry Driver. I grew up in the Eighties, with Thatcherism and high unemployment; by the time I started secondary school I couldn’t see a future in which I had a job at all. But, in over thirty years, I have only been unemployed for four months altogether. Mostly factory work, initially; my redundancy package from the Ford Motor Company giving me the freedom to work for an Agency while working out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


A selection of the top twelve pieces are published on Spread the Word’s website in the Life Writing Prize showcase.

Judges 2017

Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead.

Special Mentions

The following writers are given special mentions for their entries in 2017.

Abigail Parry * Adrian Ward * Alexi Francis * Alyson Hallett * Andrea Samuelson * Andrew Kenrick * Anna Derrig * Anna Ruddock * Anne Boaden * Aofie Mannix * Atar Hadari * Bella D’Arcy Reed * Brian Machin * Carmelita Zappalà * Caroline Mawer * Catrina Davies * Christopher Westoby * Clare Hedwat * Damien Knightley * Eithne Nightingale * Emma Rawlin * Eva Forrai * Fiona Mason * Fiona Murdoch * Geoff Mead * Hannah Ormerod * Jack Houston * Jack Brooks * Jacqueline Crooks * Jane Francis * Jessica Russell * John Wilks * John Carlin * Jon Stone * Joseph Pierson * Joyce Branagh * Judy Birkbeck * Juliet Miller * Katy Whitehead * Louise Tucker * Lynnda Wardle * Sarah MacLeod * Marion Molteno * Melissa Wolfe * Melissa Fu * Phil Revell * Sandra Jensen * Sarah Ganczarski * Sharon Rakshan-Mofrad * Simon Lee-Price * Tanya Shadrick *

class="post-7829 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news-opportunities category-opportunities"1-2-1 Fiction Feedback with
Agent Ella Kahn by application

Would you like feedback on your novel? Or expert advice on pitching your story to agents?

Agent Ella Kahn of DKW Literary Agency is offering free half-hour feedback sessions by application to at least six London based* aspiring fiction writers who can identify with one of the following criteria:

Ella is particularly interested in upmarket contemporary and historical fiction for adults or young adults but is happy to give feedback on anything.

What do we need from you?

  1. A)  how you meet the criteria for this opportunity
  2. B) what stage you are at with your book i.e.: just started, nearly finished, completed
  3. C) a summary of your writing endeavours to date (e.g. Have you attended Spread the Word courses? Have you mainly been writing on your own at home?)
  4. D) a one/two paragraph blurb pitching what your book is about
  5. E) your London address

NB Your cover letter should emulate to some degree the kind of cover letter you’d usually send to an agent so Ella can give you feedback on how you’re pitching your book.

If you are selected for this opportunity, Spread the Word may ask for proof of how you meet the criteria.

Please apply for this opportunity on Submittablespreadtheword.submittable.com/submit/85208/fiction-feedback-sessions-with-literary-agent-ella-kahn

The closing date for applications is 9am, Monday 5 June 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by 30 June 2107.

*not sure if your address counts as London? Check here: https://www.doogal.co.uk/london_postcodes.php