The Yeovil Literary Prize

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2021 YCAA Book Group

The September 2021 YCAA book group reads are 'You Don't Know Me' by Imran Mahmood and 'A Single Thread' by Tracey Chevalier.

For more information, see the Yeovil Community Arts Association News page.

welcome to the

2021 Results

For full details of the results, choose a category:

Results Table Report Novel Short Story Poetry Writing Without Restrictions

Novel Category

FIRST PRIZE - Kate Kemp

SECOND PRIZE - E.J. Pepper

THIRD PRIZE - Katherine Black

Short Story Category

FIRST PRIZE - Caroline Sutherland

SECOND PRIZE - Kath Kilburn

THIRD PRIZE - Francis Thompson

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Tess Burnett

Poetry Category

FIRST PRIZE - Jennifer Hunt

SECOND PRIZE - Marion Lovelace

THIRD PRIZE - Anthony Head

Writing Without Restrictions

FIRST PRIZE - Sue Bevan

SECOND PRIZE - Dr Margaret Callaghan

THIRD PRIZE - Helen Morris

Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award

WINNER - Marion Lovelace

Report for 2021 Yeovil Literary Prize

Even in disturbing and emotional circumstances, writers around the world carried on creating the written word. This world-class writing competition challenges authors whilst enthusing the readers and judges; it gives opportunity to share work and encourages all genres to be explored. Every entry this year was exceptional in some way. Every judge in every creative category said deciding on a winner was one of the hardest tasks to perform.


Some of the past winners who have now progressed into the field of publishing with debut novels, short stories, poems and their writing ‘to be proud of ‘from our Writing Without Restriction category have told us about their success. See the SUCCESSES tab above for their news.


Novels - Writing a novel is the ultimate challenge for an aspiring writer and we have enjoyed reading so many exciting ideas, plots, themes and, above all, settings that take the reader away from the strains of life.


Our winning novel took us to Australia; another introduced us to strong characters, one being an immigrant who survived conflict arriving on our shores by boat; and the third one delivered the intrigues of a crime thriller set in a bookshop and small community. Each of them offered really good reads. I can see all of them in print sitting on our bookshelves at home or in your local bookshop.


Short Story – A short story needs components that work, they need to balance out. All our winning stories had good descriptions guiding the reader into a unique setting. Riveting dialogue moved the stories along. Believable characters created atmosphere, even a dead body or two peppered the pages, until reaching a satisfying ending. Not all endings are happy, but they must seal the plot, hone the time and place, refine the theme with various strong characters dealing with unusual situations. If all those elements are there, then we will have a very satisfactory conclusion. This year the standard shone, and we loved so many of the entries.


Poetry – The winning poems succinctly painted pictures with inspiring words, and if you look at our winner this year, she has also given us a painting to accompany her beautiful poem. All our poems gave us an aspect of life to which we can all relate. Memories trigger feelings that only poetry can convey, and, in the present world dilemma, those words are important to everyone.


Writing Without Restrictions – This category always delivers exquisite, and often quirky writing. This year the winners gave us poignant and compelling words; memories recalled or forgotten, and a love of language shown in confident story-telling. There is always something for and from everyone in this wide-open category. Finding the niche for your writing is the key. Having the freedom to enter writing you are proud of is rewarding for any writer. This category allows for that freedom.


There is already an entry point for a comprehensive range of writing, but the good news is that we are offering even more opportunities for aspiring writers. We are expanding our competition even further; in our 2022 competition we will also be welcoming Children’s and YA Novels. Our competition opens on 1st January so spread the word; stimulate your creative imaginings and sharpen the ideas in your mind. We are looking forward to reading your work.


We always emphasise it is important to adhere to the word count in all our categories, especially in the Novel, where you may even have to finish mid-sentence. After all your effort it is disheartening to have your work discounted due to not reading the Rules. There will be changes to the Rules for Novels next year so keep an eye out for that as we welcome all your entries.


Each year we award £100 to the Western Gazette Best Local Writer. It means the highest placed entry in the longlists where the writer lives within the distribution area of the Western Gazette. This year there were four to choose from so we decided on the highest placed who lived closest to the centre of Yeovil. This year we are delighted to give this award to a poet new to our competition, Marion Lovelace, whose poem was placed second in its category. Congratulations!


We encourage all writers to join and be active participants in Writers’ Circles or writing groups as the sharing of praise and critiques is so important to the progress of a new writer. Above all else, we must enjoy our writing.


The YCAA is a partner in the 2021 Yeovil Literary Festival, and we are planning to hold a Yeovil Literary Prize Past Winners event at 12 noon on Friday 29th October. At this stage, in changeable times, we are preparing to have an audience and a ZOOM so winners from afar can be part of the event. Technology is making sure your words are shared. The festival website will give you ticket information and we will share our ZOOM details on our website, Facebook and twitter.


We add our thanks and congratulations to everyone who entered this year and we welcome you and all writers in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the rest of the world – with your varied and many voices – to join us again next year. Our 2022 competition opens on 1st January with five categories with a closing date of 31st May.


We are excited about reading your new work, so Happy writing!


the Judging Team

Novel Results

The Novel judge was Hellie Ogden


Hellie Ogden


Hellie Ogden represents fiction, children’s books and non-fiction and enjoys novels with bold storytelling, moving prose and vivid, thought-provoking characters. In non-fiction she is looking for unique personal stories, campaigners, memoir and nature writing, cookery, lifestyle, and work that has a social following with cross-media potential. As an editorially focused agent, she has a keen interest in helping to develop and nurture debut writers. Follow her on Twitter @hellieogden.


Hellie featured in the Bookseller Rising Stars List and was shortlisted for the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize. She represents a number of Sunday Times bestsellers and award-winning writers across genres. She often speaks at writing conferences and mentors debut writers.


Hellie commented:


“I loved judging the Prize. Such a range of ideas and talent and extremely well-polished manuscripts, it was an honour to be involved.”


*******

FIRST – Warrah Place by Kate Kemp

Kate Kemp

Kate Kemp

Kate Kemp is Australian and now settled in the UK. She trained first as an occupational therapist in Adelaide, and then as a systemic psychotherapist in Melbourne and London. She has worked in mental health services in Australia and the UK and is currently a full-time parent. Kate has written about power in the systemic field of psychotherapy, but now prefers to explore ideas through fiction. She has completed the Curtis Brown six-month novel writing course. Warrah Place is her first novel.


Our judge, Hellie Ogden, commented: - “Warrah Place”


A blisteringly hot, claustrophobic setting coupled with an original, thrilling plot made this really stand out for me. I loved the focus on the women on the street and old prejudices coming to the surface. The characters felt really distinct and the writing has a brilliant energy and freshness too. Tammy pulls the story together beautifully.

SECOND – Arian and Lottie by E.J. Pepper

E.J. Pepper

E.J. Pepper

E.J. Pepper grew up in Worcestershire and Co. Donegal. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Chichester University and has worked as a marital therapist, university lecturer and magistrate. ‘Arian and Lottie’ is her third book. Her first book, ‘The Colours of the Dance,’ won the First Novel Prize, and her second book, ‘Flight Path,’ was winner of the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives with her husband on the Surrey/Sussex border.


Our judge, Hellie Ogden, commented: - “Arian and Lottie”


A heartwarming novel cleverly imagined. I loved the sense of place and got completely immersed in the narrative. The outline suggests some brilliant twists to come, and an evocative story of a strong friendship building between Arian and Lottie at its heart.

THIRD – No Fouler Fiend by Katherine Black

Katherine Black

Katherine Black

Katherine Black was born and raised in Texas but has spent most of her life in England, which is why she has a very odd accent. Her background is in art history. She spent years working with museums before leaving it all behind for the glamorous life of a stay at home mum. Now that the children are leaving the nest, she's pursuing her dream of writing and recently completed an MA in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Katherine is a lover of travel, art, good food and eccentric people. No Fouler Fiend is her first novel.


Our judge, Hellie Ogden, commented: - “No Fouler Fiend”


This had such a unique hook with a smart, darkly comic tone and a strong sense of mystery at its core. Well realised characters and brilliant pacing. Genuinely funny, I was smiling throughout.

SHORTLISTED - results in no particular order
Dwell
The Hidden
Upcycling
No Fouler Fiend
Duality – a Dead Russian in Osaka
The Barefoot Girl’s Secret
Fare Thee Well Enniskillen
Arian and Lottie
The Choices we Make
Warrah Place
The Making of Joe Wild
The Fabulators
LONGLISTED - results in no particular order
The Florist
The Blyth Parclose
Crossing the Landing
Madeleine
Little Comrade
Thou Shall not Suffer
When the Black Rains Fall
Absent
Arian and Lottie
Dwell
The Hidden
Upcycling
No Fouler Fiend
Duality – a Dead Russian in Osaka
The Barefoot Girl’s Secret
Fare Thee Well Enniskillen
The Sumerians
The Mysterious Death of H.R.H.
Sins of the Fathers
The Virgin Wild
Indian Spitfire
The Choices we Make
Warrah Place
The Making of Joe Wild
The Fabulators
The Honourable Hunter
Now I See
The Fantasy Biography of Maurice Molar
The Ties that Bind Us
A Pot of Coffee

Short Story Results

The Novel judge was Ayisha Malik


Ayisha Malik


Ayisha Malik's adult novels include Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. Ayisha was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan has been a CityReads London book. Her children’s books include a retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and The Seven Sisters. She is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award, Marie Claire's Future Shapers' Awards and the h100 Awards. Her next novel, The Movement, is to be published in spring 2022.


*******

FIRST – The Unfinished Business of Snakeface by Caroline Sutherland

Caroline Sutherland

Caroline Sutherland

Caroline grew up beside a lake in the Wicklow mountains and later moved to the rolling hills of Kilkenny near to where her family has lived for hundreds of years. She has taught yoga and archery in Europe and north Africa and loves to meet new people. She is a graduate of the NUI Maynooth Creative Writing course and writes something every day. Her short stories have won the Crediton and the Dalkey Creates short story prizes. They have also been listed in the Riptide Journal, Myslexia, Retreat West, Stories for Homes, Michael Mullan Short Stories, Fish and Exeter short story competitions. Caroline is a community workshop facilitator for short story writing, is the recipient of a writing bursary to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig and at present has a short story published in Books Ireland Magazine Online.


Our judge, Ayisha, commented: - “The Unfinished Business of Snakeface”


This, to me, was the clear winner, with some lovely description, evocative characterisation and a strong setting. Added to this was a confidence in style and voice that made it a joy to read. Dialogue can be so tricky to get right, but the author here uses it brilliantly to move the plot along, as well as develop character. I know endings don’t have to be hopeful, but this one was, and it felt all the more satisfying as a result.

SECOND – Retaining Walls by Kath Kilburn

Kath Kilburn

Kath Kilburn

Kath Kilburn wrote… Some people will allegedly read anything – the backs of cornflakes packets apparently being particularly favoured. Kath, on the other hand, will write anything: notes, memories, stories, non-fiction, even the odd – sometimes very odd - poem. It’s a way of harnessing her feelings and marshalling her thoughts into some sort of order. And anyway, who doesn’t love a new notebook and a well-sharpened pencil? Kath’s jobs and writing have been varied throughout her lifetime and, on the writing front, there have been contributions to a local history series, co-editing a local authority newsletter, magazine fiction, newspaper articles, competition entries and charity anthologies, but for the moment she’s just well chuffed with her success in the Yeovil Literary Short Story Competition!


Our judge, Ayisha, commented: - “Retaining Walls”


RETANING WALLS came a very close second. The opening is so skilled and confident and the story took a turn I wasn’t expecting. The writer also explores themes of grief and loss, using the walls as a wonderful metaphor for the decay of the bones and the character’s relationship. I also loved the plot twist. The author managed to pack a lot into the story and demonstrated their skill as a writer.

THIRD – Wrong Number by Francis Thompson

Francis Thompson

Francis Thompson

Francis is Scottish and lives in Cambridge. He’s a member of Cambridge Writers. Wrong Number is the first chapter of his New York based thriller. His murder mystery The Disappeared is set in Cambridge. In 2020 the first chapter of The Disappeared was Longlisted in the Writing Without Restriction Category of The Yeovil Literary Prize. During 2020/21 further chapters from The Disappeared were dramatised for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Thordis Fridriksson’s evening show. The Patron Saint of Print was shortlisted in 2020s Wells Festival of Literature. His short stories include: The Collector and December Moon. The Collector explores the feline connection between Andy Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola, and the celebrated artist and cat-lover, Louis Wain. Cambridge Writers publish an annual collection of short stories. This year’s publication is titled ‘Visitors’. It includes The Collector and is available on amazon.


Our judge, Ayisha, commented: - “Wrong Number”


This short story demonstrated the efficacy of how a strong voice can pull the reader along, and engage them by giving us an interesting, complicated narrator. The overuse of exclamation marks was sometimes jarring, but the seeding in of mystery was done well, peppered with humour and, I felt, a satisfying ending. I found myself being both puzzled and intrigued by the narrator, with a voice that brought this story to life.

Our judge Ayisha added:

Highly Recommended: “THE GIRL WITH BEES IN HER HAIR” by Tess Burnett


I so enjoyed reading this. It was lovely writing with a beautiful moral about home, belonging and community at its core. The idea of little animals living in people’s beards and bosoms, to me, was enchanting, and the story’s celebration of differences and finding hope was very satisfying.

SHORTLISTED - results in no particular order
The Gift
Wrong Number
Retaining Walls
The Girl with Bees in Her Hair.
Far from the Poppy Fields
Four Seconds
The National Treasure
Full Bags and Empty Resolutions
Now You can See Me
The Unfinished Business of Snake Face.
LONGLISTED - results in no particular order
Duchess
Eynhallow
Moving On
Bidden
The Gift
Wrong Number
Retaining Walls
The Girl with Bees in Her Hair.
Far from the Poppy Fields
Four Seconds
The National Treasure
Full Bags and Empty Resolutions
Now You can See Me
The Unfinished Business of Snake Face.
The Colour of Beyond
Carpe Diem
Celebration
My Best Friend’s Funeral
Cofferdam

Poetry Results

The Novel judge was Sean Borodale


Sean BorodalePhotograph by Mark Vessey


Sean Borodale works as a poet and artist, making scriptive and documentary poems written on location. He was Resident Artist & Writer at Bluecoat, Liverpool, 2016-2017 and was Creative Fellow at Trinity College Cambridge from 2013-15.


He was selected as a Granta New Poet in 2012, and his debut collection Bee Journal was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and the Costa Book Award in 2013. Mighty Beast, a documentary poem for Radio 3 won the Radio Academy Gold Award in 2014 for Best Feature or Documentary.


His topographical poem 'Notes for an Atlas' was recommended by Robert Macfarlane in the Guardian Summer Books 2005. It was performed in 2007 at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, directed by Mark Rylance, as part of the first London Festival of Literature.


Sean’s second collection of poems, Human Work, was published in 2015. Among many projects and residencies to date he was Northern Arts Fellow at the Wordsworth Trust in 1999, and from 2002-7 he was a teaching fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.


Sean commented:


The three poems chosen were all poems that conveyed warmth of spirit, a kindness, which feels necessary at this time.


*******

FIRST – Hedgehog by Jennifer Hunt

Jennifer HuntJennifer Hunt

Jennifer Hunt

Jennifer Hunt is an artist and writer living in a medieval thatched cottage in Dorset. She has had a lifelong love of the natural world, from a childhood immersed in the green depths of Oxleas Woods and her grandparents’ farm in Devon, to the prehistoric chalk landscape of Dorset. Since graduating with an MA from Bath Spa University in 2001, she has had many poems published in magazines and anthologies, and been successful in poetry and nature-writing competitions. She has taught Creative Writing for 16 years and has published annotated sketchbooks, featuring the landscape and wildlife of the Jurassic Coast. She recently had a poem selected by Seren Books to be included in their latest publication, 100 Poems to Save the Earth.


Our judge, Sean, commented: - “Hedgehog”


‘Hedgehog’ shows the poet’s command through economy of line and a sustained tonality, in risking the intensity of encounter to a spacious, playful re-imagining. The result is quietly spellbinding: a flowing, evocative poem in the dark, which shows the hedgehog’s world alive whilst at risk from interventions of human and otherwise.

SECOND – Carpe Diem by Marion Lovelace

Marion Lovelace

Marion Lovelace

Marion Lovelace wrote … I was born in Gloucester in 1942. At the end of the War we moved to a village nearby and there I soon appreciated the wonders of the natural world around me. The village primary school encouraged poetry and I came to love it. The first poem I remember, from a school book called 'Silver Bells', was 'The West Wind' by John Masefield. I relished reading the narrative poems of Tennyson and one by Longfellow called 'The Bell of Atri'. The poetry I have written is generally observations of nature, people and true events. Carpe Diem is about a true event. My husband comes from Henstridge. When our family was young, we lived away but would visit his family home at weekends. We regularly picked pears from an old but prolific Conference pear tree. One year a large number of butterflies settled on a pile of fallen fruit. They became very drunk and were staggering about everywhere. Our sons have an abiding memory of eating bottled pears every winter.


Our judge, Sean, commented: - “Carpe Diem”


‘Carpe Diem’ is successful in bringing a meditative mode to an account of fruit picking. The poem charts the intimacy of what happens, binding a symmetry, a diptych of sorts, holding the reader in two temporal zones, the today and the yesterday. The poem is a texture of details, a glimmering of sometimes luminous language.


Marion is also the winner of our Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award.

THIRD – Shutting Down by Anthony Head

Anthony Head

Anthony Head

Anthony Head is a writer and editor based in Tokyo, where he has spent half his life, but hopes to return to his native Wessex next year. His articles have been published in numerous journals, including History Today, The Edinburgh Review, The London Magazine, and the TLS. His poetry has appeared in Acumen, Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, Obsessed with Pipework and other journals. He is the editor of three volumes of the letters and diaries of John Cowper Powys, and several collections of essays by Llewelyn Powys.


Our judge, Sean, commented: - “Shutting Down”


‘Shutting Down’ uses quiet humour to face the grave reality of age. Its voice speaks to the reader as if an interior. The measures of its stanzas sustain the series of minor jolts under the everyday, and the poem offers, in place of bleakness, a solidarity.

SHORTLISTED - results in no particular order
Carpe Diem
Trees
Turning the Heel
Hedgehog
Shutting Down
How Not to Kill a Chicken
Bed
Grandma’s Dead
LONGLISTED - results in no particular order
Carpe Diem
Trees
Turning the Heel
Hedgehog
Marrakech
Shutting Down
How Not to Kill a Chicken
Bed
Grandma’s Dead
Harvest Moon, Torcross
Bearable

Writing Without Restrictions Results

The Writing Without Restrictions judge was Steve Voake


Steve Voake


Steve Voake is the award-winning author of several YA novels including The Dreamwalker's Child, The Starlight Conspiracy and Blood Hunters (Faber & Faber). He has also written several series for younger readers including Daisy Dawson, Hooey Higgins and Maxwell Mutt (Walker Books).


Insect Detective was awarded Best Illustrated Non-Fiction Children’s Book by the English Association. Steve was Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation. He has taught a writing master class for the Guardian and was long listed for the University of Canberra’s International Poetry Prize in 2016.


Before writing his first novel, Steve was Headteacher of a primary school in Somerset.


Steve commented:


“Thanks for inviting me to be a judge of this year’s ‘Writing Without Restrictions’ Category, it was a pleasure to read these entries from so many talented writers. What a variety of pieces! The high standard of these entries meant the job of deciding on the top three was an enjoyable challenge, but my top three are as follows:”


*******

FIRST – Hiraeth by Sue Bevan

Sue Bevan

Sue Bevan

Welsh writer Sue Bevan won the international Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize 2020 with Hiraeth, and was a past winner of the Drama Association of Wales International One Act Play Competition with Mum's The Word. Her poetry has been published in Dwell Time, and her first published non-fiction will appear this month in Gwasg Honno Press's Painting The Beauty Queens Orange. Sue is also a performer, and her semi-autobiographical solo show, An Audience With Shurl, won 4* reviews at Edinburgh and was nominated for The Outstanding Performance Award at Prague Fringe. She is currently writing her first novel.


Our judge, Steve, commented: - “Hiraeth”


This is an extraordinary and beguiling piece of writing. The tragic subject matter is handled with a gentle lyricism and lightness of touch while beneath the surface lies a simmering anger, making this a poignant and compelling read. Although it contains satisfying echoes of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milk Wood’, the writing has an originality and freshness all of its own. An exciting new voice and a worthy winner.

SECOND – Love and Longing by Dr Margaret Callaghan

Dr Margaret Callaghan

Dr Margaret Callaghan

Margaret completed a Master's in creative writing and since then has been working on novels and plays. She has been shortlisted for the Penguin New Writers Award and the Scottish Book Trust new writers and next Chapter awards. She has also won short story and flash fiction competitions. She lives in Glasgow.


Our judge, Steve, commented: - “Love and Longing”


This beautifully written piece is a moving reflection upon the narrator’s formative relationships which have fallen away into fragments of memory and now appear as ghosts, drifting in and out of the narrative as they are once again recalled and forgotten. The carefully observed, specific details (‘Pineapple cakes for breakfast and swimming in the rain’) are particularly affecting and this is a powerful vignette from a talented writer.

THIRD – A Tale from the Dying Times - Helen Morris

Helen Morris

Helen Morris

Helen lives, works and swims in Essex. She tries to find time to write in between the chaos of three sons and a mad rescue greyhound. She has short stories published by Arachne Press in ‘Five by Five’; ‘Departures’; and ‘No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book’.


Our judge, Steve, commented: - “A Tale from the Dying Times”


‘A Tale from the Dying Times’ demonstrates the author’s love of language right from the first stanza as it directly addresses the reader, inviting them to ‘Call me Dardellion / Shape your tongue around it / click your teeth like sea-worn shells’. The lyrical, confident story-telling skilfully portrays love and loss against the backdrop of a changing world and this is an ambitious, thoughtful piece with a powerful and poignant ending.

SHORTLISTED - results in no particular order
Hiraeth
A Tale from the Dying Times
Letterbox Redundancies
A Fresh Start
Behind Closed Doors - A Nursing Memoir
Love and Longing
Texting Truths
Comprehensive Lessons
Aftershock
The Wedding Diary
LONGLISTED - results in no particular order
Letterbox Redundancies
The Golf Club (R)ejection
Kingston Plantation
There’s no Luck in Lucknow Mansions
What the
ZOOM DOOM
Breaking
Hiraeth
A Tale from the Dying Times
A Fresh Start
The Sheep at Scalplay
One jet Black Feather
Keeping
The Artist.
Behind Closed Doors - A Nursing Memoir
Love and Longing
Texting Truths
Comprehensive Lessons
Aftershock
The Wedding Diary