For full details of the results, choose a category:
Congratulations to the winners in the four categories! Full details and report here: Yeovil Literary Prize 2015 Results.
Read about our most recent successes.
For full details of the results, choose a category:
FIRST PRIZE - Paul Vlitos
SECOND PRIZE - Rowena Warwick
THIRD PRIZE - Jon R Flieger
FIRST PRIZE - Chip Tolson
SECOND PRIZE - Gerald Knight
THIRD PRIZE - Simon Van der Velde
FIRST PRIZE - Stephanie Conn
SECOND PRIZE - Peter Marshall
THIRD PRIZE - J. S. Watts
FIRST PRIZE - Ken Pickard
SECOND PRIZE - Nest Thomas
THIRD PRIZE - Mike Silvester
THE WOW! PRIZE - Samm Kweku Richardson
The Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award will be presented to Roger Iredale from West Coker.
What an amazing array of stimulating writing we have seen this year. Writers everywhere gave us a varied, knowledgeable and interesting outlook on life. Within all the stories, poems, and very original writing, we were privileged to explore plots, cultures and imagined times.
Our novelists teased us with the opening chapters and a synopsis, and each year we are left wondering if and how the ensuing chapters will thrill a future reader. Will there be a journey for these words? On our Successes tab you will find exactly that; success stories happening to authors after entering the Yeovil Literary Prize. We are excited by the news that David Young’s novel Stasi Child, which was placed third last year, is soon to be available on Kindle, and then in paperback in February 2016. Read David’s path to success, as well as the stories behind many others who have been rewarded after entering our writing competition.
The short story is a writing craft worth attempting. It is definitely different from writing a novel. Writing a tale in 2000 words in which the reader can become immersed with a beginning, middle, a thought-provoking ending, and full of positive characters, is very demanding but satisfying.
As you know judging is anonymous; the names and places of origin only become known at the long list stage when we notify those who have reached it with the good news. This year the YCAA was delighted to see Chip Tolson as our winner in the short story category. Over the years we see familiar names recurring in the long list, then the short list and then in the top three. To win this category twice, and also over the years be placed second or Highly Commended, shows that Chip Tolson is a master of the demanding craft of writing a short story. Each competition has different judges; each year he pens a perceptive, enjoyable and well-rounded story. We await his published collection of short stories, then everyone can enjoy them.
If you are part of a book reading group you may have read The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. There are some wonderful sentiments expressed by the main character in praise of the short story. So true!
Poets are blessed with the ability to convey emotions on the page with an economy of words. What then happens in the reader’s mind is pure magic. All our senses are fulfilled and the ultimate experience of reading a poem lingers for a long time. Our judge this year, Esther Morgan, read the majority of the entries. So we know the chosen few in her long list were of the highest calibre. Many of us think poetry is best left to experienced poets, but if a gauntlet is thrown down at your Writers’ Group, then pick it up and try a new form of writing. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding.
Now what can be said about our new category? The YCAA, through the Yeovil Literary Prize, aims to encourage aspiring writers from all around the world. This new section opened up the gates for written creativity. We thank everyone who entered, and it looks like they all enjoyed this open writing opportunity. The variety of entries left the judges informed, enlightened, entertained, and quite often, chuckling!
As this was experimental, the judges were the YCAA, and the prizes were small. We hope writing your piece was more important than the monetary gain. The quality of entries were exactly as we anticipated; wide subjects, free writing, imaginative prose, and had us awarding something extra, the WOW! prize. The winners’ entries will be displayed at the Yeovil Literary Prize Past Winners event at the Yeovil Literary Festival. Check the details on our website www.yeovilarts.co.uk.
In 2016 we aim to have a judge who will appreciate the wide range of very different entries. We do hope you’ll enter more than one category now you have this opportunity to try the Writing Without Restrictions category.
This year it has been a pleasure to read the entries and we are looking forward to word spreading amongst writers everywhere of this important, international writing competition. We know that agents and publishers read our website and follow our competition which gives those who are recognised further chances of success. We also know that writers are good at spreading the word among their writing groups and friends, so feel free to carry on the good work.
Our 2016 Yeovil Literary Prize opens on 1st January, so start those ideas and plots bubbling away now and you’ll be ready to enter.
Our judges for next year are as prestigious as always. Our contributor from the world of publishing is literary scout Natasha Farrant judging the short stories. Our esteemed poetry judge is Hilary Davies, and our judge for the novel category is the wonderful writer Jason Goodwin. Who will judge Writing Without Restrictions? We’ll let you know… but it will be someone with a wide knowledge of writing.
We look forward to reading all your work and watching new talent emerge into the literary arena.
the Judging Team
There were 423 novels this year covering a cornucopia of subjects, cultures and plots.
Our judge, Victoria Hobbs, literary agent with A.M. Heath, said “I was delighted to be asked to assist in the judging of the 2015 Yeovil Prize and had a thoroughly enjoyable time reading the entries. My congratulations to all those who entered, and particularly to the very worthy winners.”
I thought, my first choice, APOLLO ASKEW demonstrated a lovely control of tone. It wore its lightness very well indeed. The jauntiness hit just the right note. The author also has a good light touch with character – these people came off the page with impressive speed. I thought the comic timing was spot on and I would happily have spent more time with our hero and his friends. I was less sure about the novel within the novel device – I worry that the author might become a bit trapped by that. But all in all I thought this was a confident and entertaining excerpt and I would happily have read on.
Born in Oxford in 1979, Paul Vlitos studied English Literature at the University of Bristol before undertaking graduate study at University College London and the University of Cambridge. He has taught English Literature at a variety of institutions, including Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, where he lived for three years. He is currently a lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Surrey. Paul is the author of two published novels – WELCOME TO THE WORKING WEEK (2007) and EVERY DAY IS LIKE SUNDAY (2008). The Daily Telegraph has described him as 'a witty writer' whose work is 'curiously gripping', while the New Statesman complimented his 'easy comic touch'. His Kindle Singles THE UNRAVELLING (2014) and MISTER NOONE (2015) are also available now. He is married and lives in London. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulVlitos.
LATENT HEAT, my second choice, was the one of the three which I could see having the smoothest route through to publication. It’s a good pitch and the author delivers well on the premise in these opening pages. It has a convincingly ominous feel to these opening pages and the author sets up the players and the drama well. I thought the flashback to the student party was good, as were the flashbacks to school, demonstrating that she / he will handle the shifting between different time periods of the novel well. Crucial, with a structure like this. It’s an interesting and confident start to a seemingly well plotted novel.
'I have always written but have spent so much time busy with family and career that it is only in the past few years that I have been able to take it as seriously as I have always wanted to. I have a diploma in creative writing with distinction from Oxford University. My interests lie in poetry and long fiction. My poetry has appeared online and in print magazines and has done well in competitions. This is the first fiction prize I have entered and I am surprised and delighted to have my novel placed, hopefully this will be a stepping stone to an agent or publisher. I am currently embroiled in writing a second (and a third) novel.'
YOU ARE AMONG MONSTERS is my third choice – a very different piece again. I liked the voice here. There’s a nice economy in the story-telling, no nervous throat clearing, straight in leaving the reader to pick up the thread if they can. I liked the challenge in that. I thought it was an interesting fictional world to be entering and I liked the fact that most readers are unlikely to have read a novel about someone who works for a Transfer Service.
Jon R. Flieger
Jon R. Flieger is from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. His work has appeared in numerous Canadian and American journals and anthologies, but The Yeovil Literary Prize contest is his first attempt at being some kind of a writer guy on this side of the Atlantic. He was the winner of The Capilano Review’s 2013 Narative Contest, the 2011 Norma Epstein Canadian national award for fiction, an Orison Award, and has been a finalist for the Howard O’ Hagan and Hudson prizes for fiction. He holds degrees from Windsor and Calgary and is currently attending Oxford. He is afraid of bees
It’s always a difficult task for the YCAA to choose a long list from the wealth of superb writing that is entered each year. Here are the novels that caught their attention and earned their places on that list.
|Amanda Brooks||The Heart of Wessex|
|Martine Fournier||The Dream Peddler|
|Peter Wallace||Hamish, Speaker|
|Louisa Carter||The Table Laid Bare|
|Deirdre Coffey||Frozen Music|
|Ian Rollitt||Weird Boy|
|Gytha Lodge||The Butterfly Catchers|
|Jade WADE SCARLET||Wolf Wind|
|Peter Davies||Getting Tyson|
|Tom Bryan||Sassafras Deep|
|Elizabeth Pepper||Colours of the Dance|
|Libby Carpenter||The Boy At The Window|
|Clare Hawkins||Mr Underwood’s Poem|
This year we received 356 short story entries, an ever growing number. The standard continues to astound us and our judge, Santa Montefiore, commented: “Thank you so much for giving me the honour of judging your short story competition. I enjoyed every one of them and was enormously impressed by the high standard. Here are my critiques – or rather, letters of praise, because I only have positive things to say. They were so good!!”
I chose this story as my winner not only because it is a good story, well told, but because it was the only story that really touched me. I think the key to successful writing is the ability to move your reader. I loved the way you described Henry, in a rut, on his own, rather forlorn – and then he gets swept up by that gaggle of girls and he discovers his youth again. I also found it touching the way you didn’t overdo the ending. Just a kiss on the cheek and the promise of a happier future. Congratulations. A prize well deserved. I wish you much success! Santa.
'There are as many approaches to writing fiction as there are writers, and it can be a mystery, sometimes even to the writer as much as to the readers, as to where a story originated. But not in every case; the seed for my story, ‘Henry’s Hen Night’, had been in my mind for years since I saw one of a group of girls on a night-out trip over and grab hold of a passer-by to avoid falling to the pavement.
When a story comes together well from a first idea to provide a satisfying whole, the writer is pleased. Then if others read the story and enjoy it, that is a true reward. For it to be acknowledged in a competition as a prize winning short story, in particular in the context of the Yeovil Literary Prize where stories are drawn from a wide and international entry, it is a major boost to the writer.
With this encouragement I am working on publishing a collection of some twenty of my short stories in the next few months. More information at www.chiptolson.com
Behind the scenes a lot of people work long hours processing many entries into competitions – and the Yeovil Prize in particular. Those of us who enter are most grateful for their work.'
Congratulations on coming second. It was so hard judging the first three because I really enjoyed all of them!
Your story was fascinating and I loved the clever twist at the end. I did not see that coming. I found myself thinking about it long after I’d finished reading it, which is evidence of a gripping tale!
Well-written, fluent and extremely engaging – It was the first story I read and I admit I was horrified because I thought that if they were all of the same high standard I’d have a terrible time choosing – thankfully they were not!
I wish you every success in your writing going forward. Best wishes, Santa
'Married, with one daughter, I am a retired aerospace engineer who has been writing short stories for over forty years. My particular interests are science fiction and tales with a twist. I have also written radio drama for the BBC and have some success with poetry and the occasional article. I am currently the chairman of the Warwickshire Writers’ Workshop which has been established for over thirty years. Interests include astronomy and watching my daughter flying large radio controlled model aircraft.'
Congratulations on coming third! I found the first three stories so hard to judge because I really enjoyed them all”
What an imagination you have – and if that is what we have to look forward to in the future I might rather find an island somewhere and live in peaceful isolation!
It’s very well-written and the story is carefully plotted and, I found myself thinking about the ending long after I’d finished it – heartbreaking and creepy!
I think you should write a novel based on this story. I don’t doubt you’d find success among the vast Twilight/Hunger Games fans! (My children would love it!!!)
I wish you great success. Best wishes, Santa.
Simon Van der Velde
'I began writing as a student in the 1980’s, but was persuaded that becoming a lawyer was the more sensible option. That might have been good advice. The truth is, my stuff wasn’t great. There were feelings I wanted to convey, injustices that disturbed or upset me, but I had no idea how to get them onto the page. I worked hard for a long time, without reward or encouragement, other than from my long-suffering wife. (May the gods bless her.)
I am delighted to say that the last three years have been different.
In 2012 my novel, The Benjamin Exhibition was short-listed for the Harry Bowling Prize. That was my first inkling that anybody, with a different surname to mine, was interested in what was going on between me and my pen. I’ve since won the Wasafiri International Prize for my short story, The Bearer, been short-listed for the Luke Bitmead Award and the Room to Write Awards, won second Prize in The Homestart – Bridgewater short story competition, third prize in the National Association of Writer’s Groups Competition, and been short-listed in various other national and international competitions, and I’ll tell you what, it’s been great.
Hemingway said we should be happy to write without reward, (something like that), and maybe we should. But the truth is that writers are human, and most of us are sensitive, which is kind of the point. The old man was right about one thing though, you’ve got to bleed for your craft. It’s hard. It’s lonely, and it’s confusing. There isn’t the immediate feedback you get from acting or singing. Sometimes I have no idea. Is this really working, or am I just talking to myself?
That’s why every scrap of recognition is valuable, more so when it comes from such a prestigious international competition as the Yeovil Literary Prize. Thank you, to the Yeovil team for reassuring me that the passion I put into my work is being conveyed, hot and whole, through the page and into the reader’s mind.
And so back to work.
My latest novel, Coira’s Wall is a love story set in 122 A.D. against the backdrop of the building of Hadrian’s Wall, (which runs pretty much past both my house and Coira’s).
We all know about the Romans, those early exponents of genocide who’s greatest ‘inventions’ were stolen from the cultures they destroyed. But what about those cultures? What was it like to find yourself on the front line? One moment you are peacefully crafting jewellery, inking tattoos, and sacrificing your children to the gods, then you look up to find the legions bearing down on you. Professional soldiers. Every man with a gladius and pilum. Second Century shock and awe.
To be fair, the Roman’s were not unsophisticated. They offered the carrot as well as the stick. Play the game and you may reap all the rewards of international trade. If not you, then your children might become citizens, people of wealth and power, able to plunder your neighbours in their turn. So why fight the inevitable, when you can live the Roman dream?
Perhaps, because they want to build a bloody great wall through your village?
I’m through the worst, closing in on that monumental phrase, ‘the end’, of the first draft, at least. Of course, when the editing is done I have to steel myself for the next step. Submission to agents.
Maybe I’m not through the worst at all.
Who will save me from this terrible industry?'
|Beverly Gallagher||Faithful unto Death|
|Sarah Houghton||To Whom It May Concern|
|Anthony Howcroft||The End of the World As We Know It.|
|Sherry Morris||A Perfect Shade of Green|
|Valerie Bowes||Guilt Edged|
|Paul Barnet||Salad Days|
|Jack Paris||A Dirty Mirror|
|Vincent Morrison||Old Softie|
|J. D. MacBean||I wandered, Lonely as …|
|John Hyde||The Tenth Victim|
|Michael Davenport||Home is where the heart is…|
|Sue Johnson||The Ink Monitor|
|PJ Stephenson||Selfish Bastard|
We are delighted with the choice of winners by Esther Morgan who read the majority of the 407 poems entered this year.
Esther commented: “When I’m judging a competition, I’m hoping for that moment of thrill, a sudden jolting awake of the mind and body which means you’ve read something that matters – to the poet and the reader. I’m using an electrical metaphor here, but it strikes me as particularly apt, and one which might not even be a metaphor at all as the best poems have an energy which feels close to the surge of a current – we talk about ‘connecting’ to a poem after all.
It’s impossible to express exactly what makes this happen – there are as many different ways as there are poems – but it’s unmistakable when it occurs. When you’re a competition judge it’s both a pleasure and a relief when you come across a poem which flicks the switch. All the winning and commended poems in this year’s Yeovil Literary Prize had this desired effect, but it was the poem ‘Making Butter’ which did so most powerfully, and the poem went on to clinch first prize.”
|Esther Morgan commented:
“I trusted Making Butter from the opening line with its specificity of time and action: “At 5am the four-foot churn is pulled/ from the garden’. The poem goes on to describe a process – making butter –which I’m not familiar with, but which it brings alive in vivid detail. But this is not description for the sake of it – each stanza skilfully develops the poem’s central relationship between the narrator and the maker of the butter which this reader interpreted as mother and child. The tension between the two, articulated through the hard, silent work of churning, is fascinating and builds beautifully to its final gesture of defiance and hurt encapsulated by that verb ‘shoving’. Once read it isn’t easily forgotten.”
Stephanie Conn was born in Co. Down in Northern Ireland in 1976. She now lives in County Antrim with her husband and two daughters. She worked as a primary school teacher and developed and taught the literacy programme Passport to Poetry, until ill health forced her to leave the profession. Her poetry has been widely published. She is a graduate of the MA programme at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University, Belfast. Stephanie is a recipient of an N.I. Arts Council Career Enhancement Award and recently won the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing. Her first poetry collection is due to be published by Doire Press later this year.
|Esther Morgan commented:
“On a first reading I warmed instantly to the apparent artlessness of ‘Primary School Hall’. The tone of voice feels very fresh and unpolished which is what lifts this poem beyond the usual reminiscence about school days. I like the way it chooses to focus on one space, the school hall, which is at the heart of school life. Without pretending to be written by a child, the poem manages to convey the strange perspectives of childhood, the way that physical smallness made us notice odd things – the instruction sheets bashed, over time, into softness, the underside of trestle tables, the big metal food dishes from which dinner was unceremoniously dispensed. It’s quirky and awkward – a bit like the narrator of the poem – and finally lovely with that closing metaphor which takes us back to the music lesson at the start. Yes, school was like that, I found myself thinking, routine fears and pleasures and then the odd unexpected bit of poetry.”
Peter Marshall has been writing poetry for more than four decades. From the mid-nineteen-eighties his work has appeared in small magazines. As well as a fourth place in the Arvon poetry competition, he has won the Frogmore competition on one occasion and on another gained second place. He has also come third in the Ledbury poetry competition. Having left the teaching profession, he is enjoying semi-retirement. In the last two years he has attended workshops and classes run by the Faber Academy and the Poetry School in London.
|Esther Morgan commented:
“View from Sheep Field Barn, Much Hadham’ I admire for the risk it takes. There are some incredible phrases here – ‘bleated cantabile’, ‘rattling with children’, ‘silently folded back in’, ‘patterns for a giant’s suit’, ‘their only child like a precious egg’. If the poem had left it at that, however, it might not have made the cut, but the final third pushes hard at the limitations of sense to move the poem unashamedly towards the transcendent. Away from the poem I can be sceptical as you like about this kind of crescendo, but in the company of its hypnotic rhythm and repetitions I was convinced.”
J.S.Watts is a British writer. A Londoner by birth, she now lives and writes in Cambridgeshire. Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States including Acumen, Envoi, Mslexia and Orbis and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. J.S. has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Magazine and Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. Her debut poetry collection, Cats and Other Myths, is published by Lapwing Publications, as is a subsequent multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue. Her novels, A Darker Moon - a work of literary fiction and dark psychological fantasy and Witchlight - a paranormal tale with a hint of romance, are published by Vagabondage press. For further details see her website: www.jswatts.co.uk
|Roger Iredale||Christmas in the Square|
|Kaddy Benyon||A Poet Goes Reindeer Herding in Northern Finland|
|Roger Iredale||The Marriage|
|Tracey S. Rosenberg||The Seder|
|Pat Borthwick||As Far As It Goes|
|Kathryn Smith||Tiny Horseshoes|
|Garry Mackenzie||The Haul|
|Frances Corkey Thompson||Quiddity|
|Frances Corkey Thompson||Hands on a Cave Wall|
|Penny Shutt||The Eden Unit|
was a new category for 2015 where we were looking for any writing that had that ‘Wow’ factor. We had nearly 200 entries. Any leap into the unknown is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. For here was a category without rules.
And what did we get ?
We got a splendid mix.
A literary soup of the long, the short, the poetic, the funny, the sad, the bizarre and (I have to say it) the completely bonkers!
Our prize winners are worthy winners of this new category.
Our FIRST prize went to Ken Pickard for his fantastically humorous and detailed A Brief History in Rhyme.
This would never have fitted any normal category so what a delight to be able to highlight this amazing piece of readable yet learned writing.
Ken Pickard was born in Liverpool in 1956 and played out his childhood in and around Merseyside.
Most of his days are now spent in East Sussex working as a village handyman with his evenings, holidays and weekends affording him the time to write songs and poetry.
Inspired by the conflicting views of Paul Dirac and Richard Feynman regarding the art of poetry, he likes to read difficult and dry books on science and philosophy to see where they might rhyme. His motto is 'be positive' which coincidentally is also his blood type.
Ken lives in Ringmer with his wife Sarah and his sons, Harvey and Lewis.
|Our SECOND prize, ‘Times Atlas’ by Nest Thomas, had that rare combination of brevity and art combined with a serious message. The totality of this piece – the whole earth in a few lines – Wow!|
'As a Welsh woman, I was brought up in an atmosphere of poetry and literature at home. This was reinforced annually by attending every August the National Eisteddfod, a feast of the Arts with literature, music, drama alongside the visual arts all available in a remarkable event. I’ve only missed a couple in my whole life! After retirement and the kids away, I’ve belonged to book group, choirs (always) and then the Poetry Group which meets in Northfield Library (please keep our libraries open). This is a wonderful group and we share our efforts in a supportive environment. Somehow I saw the Yeovil competition and sent off my poem. It is based on the Times Atlas which I find most interesting despite its unwieldy size. Having travelled quite a lot, maps hold a special interest, though I despair of the activities of our species.
I still can’t believe that my effort has won second prize – Thank you Yeovil.'
|was short, modern, pithy and hit the mark. Our imagination left to fill in the gaps – Texting can be this entertaining? Wow!|
'My writing has developed from an interest in the theatre and a desire to write stage plays.
I came across flash fiction by accident. It is the challenge of the shorter forms of writing in creating imagery and story in few words which I found intriguing. I find it also acts as a refreshing break from writing a long stage play. A story can be sparked by a picture, an observation while out and about, a conversation or a newspaper headline. Writing in a different form can prove inspirational and is also fun to try.
It is a wonderful feeling having a piece of work recognised and a big thank you to everyone involved in organising the Yeovil Literary Prize.'
We received a colourful card wishing the YCAA congratulations on our competition; it had pictures of Ghana and a poem; there was encouragement, information, and fun.
Well, why not simply ‘butter up’ the judges. We just had to laugh………
So the WOW! prize for creativity and originality goes to Samm Kweku Richardson.
Samm Kweku Richardson
For almost three decades, SAMM KWEKU RICHARDSON has worked in the Ghanaian advertising industry as a copywriter and print production specialist.
Samm’s middle name is KWEKU. The Fante tribe of Ghana, to which he belongs, names its Wednesday-born males “KWEKU” and its Wednesday-born females “EKUA”. That is something else we did not know!
Born in Accra, Ghana, on 12th April, 1961 and married with children, Samm often finds time to write articles for magazines and partake in writing competitions. His hobbies include drawing, gardening, following judo tournaments, playing the piano, cooking, listening to BBC World Service on radio, feeding birds and watching the sea. His way of keeping fit is by practicing yoga every morning and remembering his Creator every minute.
The WOW! prize is not huge in monetary terms but it had to be awarded for this entry. All the winning entries can be viewed at the Yeovil Literary Festival during the Yeovil Literary Prize Past Winners event.
Writing without restrictions was a great success and I hope will continue to bring forth much talent in the future.
|David Frankel||The Peculiarity of the Hat Stand|
|Avril Hardy||The Archaeologist’s Find|
|Jacqueline Winter||Florence Boot – Queen of Shops|
|Lesley Mace||If Steven King Wrote Poetry|
|Anthony Watts||Tears For All Occasions|
|Liz Andersen||Letter of Complaint (Noddy)|
|Rita Baker||Man of Many Parts|
|Lyndsay Wheble||By the Moorlands|
|Damhnait Monaghan||A Google a Day|
|Nicola Keller||This Cliff Edge|
|Nickie Johnson||A Bed In Belarus|
|Juliet Coe||Situations Vacant|
|Alison R Noyes||Wolf-tracking in the deep Bergslagen, Central Sweden|
|Marion Field||Better Late Than Never|
|Morag Lewis||Closer To The Sun|