Winners revealed for Cheshire Prize for Literature

The best creative writing in the county has been celebrated at the 21st annual Cheshire Prize for Literature awards event. 

The Cheshire Prize for Literature was founded in 2003 and is one of the few free-to-enter literary competitions and offers a cash prize to winners who are 18 and over, and a voucher for younger winners, as well as the rare opportunity for the best entries to be published professionally.   

The winners were announced in three age groups: primary, secondary and over 18s in four categories short stories, poetry, children’s literature and scriptwriting. This year’s evening was held as part of Chester University’s inaugural Festival of Ideas.  

The winners were: 

  • Primary poetry – This Year by Elidh Whelan 
  • Primary Stories – The Sea of Tranquility 2132 by Jack Waring 
  • Secondary Poems – Flight Winner by Martha Blue 
  • Secondary Stories – A Homage to Home by Aisya Imya 
  • Children’s Literature – Stars Come Out by Glyn Matthews 
  • Poetry – The Sticking Place by Helen Kay 
  • Stories – Return Date by Keith Murray 
  • Scriptwriting – Bed by Meryl Walker 

Entrants must live or have lived, work or have worked, studied or have studied, in Cheshire, Wirral, Warrington, or Halton and can write about anything that inspires them. 

The entrants and their guests heard from guest speaker Livi Michael, who was born in Cheshire at the celebration held at the University’s Queen’s Park campus. 

She has written 20 novels for adults, young adults and children, many of which have won or been shortlisted for awards. Her most recent novel, Reservoir, was published in March 2023 by Salt. Her play, Singers Not Sinners, was performed in Oldham in 2022. Her short stories have been published in various places including Granta, The Lonely Crowd and the Manchester Review and have been long-listed for the BBC National Short Story Award. She has judged several short story competitions including, the Arc Short Story Competition, the National Writing Competition Botswana 2007, the National Writing Competition You Can Foster 2017 and The Manchester Fiction Prize 2019. She runs a podcast series Small Pleasures, about the short story with the Francophone writer and translator Sonya Moor. She has taught creative writing in various universities and for the Arvon Foundation. 

In 2003, the then High Sheriff of Cheshire approached the University of Chester to establish and run a Cheshire Prize for Literature which has grown to become one of the foremost competitions in the area, encouraging the literary talents of new and existing writers.  

Until 2018 it was operating on a triennial cycle of short stories, poetry and children’s literature, and the prize was open to adults with a connection to Cheshire. In 2019 the University worked with Sir Phil Redmond, an honorary graduate of Chester, to introduce a scriptwriting prize. In 2020 it introduced categories for children as the organisers wanted to encourage creative writing at all ages.  

Dr Harry Parkin, Senior Lecturer in English Language and Programme Leader for the Master’s in Storytelling at the University of Chester, as well as chair of the judging panel, said, “The Cheshire Prize for Literature awards evening is always such an enjoyable event as we get to celebrate the talented writers of our region. Judging is always a challenge and a joy with so much excellent work to choose from.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the judging panel, everyone who has taken the time to enter the awards and also to Livi Michael for speaking to the audience about her writing experiences.” 

Image: Winners with Dr Harry Parkin (second from right) and Livi Michael (pale pink jacket)

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