The winners of the Manchester Writing Competition 2016 have been announced, with poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás sharing the £10,000 Manchester Poetry Prize, and D. W. Wilson winning the £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize.
D. W. Wilson submitted the short story All This Concrete Beneath Your Feet. (A man and his young son drive down the Alaskan Highway. Motels, diners and Mounties. What are they running from and where will they end up?)
He said: “I’d like to thank the judges, The Manchester Writing School, all the overworked readers, and, of course, everyone who loves the short story form. Writing is a solitary act, and rarely can writers know if what we’re doing is worthwhile, so prizes like these are especially important.
“They give validation, they give reassurance: yes, they say, you’re doing something right. Keep going.”
Poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás each won £5,000.
Dante submitted three poems: Verrückt; Reading Dostoyevsky at Seventeen; and Reading Rilke in Early Autumn.
He said: “I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dame Carol Ann Duffy and to the faculty and staff of The Manchester Writing School for initiating and maintaining a literary award series such as this one.
“Thank you, as well, to James Draper for his administrative acumen and for his warm and professional correspondences regarding the awards process. Thank you, especially, to the judges, Adam O’ Riordan, Sarah Howe, and Helen Mort, for the careful attention they spent sifting through thousands of poems, and for the affinities of taste and of experience that drew them to my work.
“Finally, thanks to my fellow shortlisted poets for the excellent poetry they put into conversation with my own: Eric Berlin, Sakinah Hofler, Rebecca Tamás, Ruth Tang, and Eoghan Walls. I extend to you, all, my brotherhood and best wishes from across the Atlantic in the hard-fought duende and earned communion of poetry.”
Rebecca submitted five poems: Julian of Norwich; Theresa of Ãvila; Hildegard of Bingen; Simone Weil; and Marguerite Porete.
She said: “I want to say thank you to all of the judges as this means so much to me, especially because Helen (Mort) and Sarah (Howe) are on the judging panel as they shaped my own writing. For them to pick me means so much.
“The shortlist itself meant a lot so to win is incredible. The win will allow me extra time to do what I love most and write, which is something that brings me joy. I am overwhelmed and I want to thank Manchester Metropolitan University for the opportunity, which I’m so lucky to have. In the future I hope to lecture.”
Fiction prize judge Juliette Pickering said: “The winner of the award was a story I just couldn’t forget. It was extraordinary and deep with emotion without over labouring the point.
“It is difficult for short stories to be seen by the publishing industry, which I know as I work in it, so the competition is an incredible way to celebrate short stories.
“Being shortlisted for the award provides real validation to their writing and hopefully it will encourage them to continue writing.”
Poetry judge Helen Mort said the 2016 Manchester Poetry prize was split because both authors were very strong and had completely different voices.
She added: “We had such a high standard this year and some very varied submissions. The judges had a difficult time deciding the shortlist and the winners and we spent a lot of time discussing he shortlist and reading the poems out loud.
“I really admired the two writers and their different styles so we decided to share the prize to recognise both of their achievements.”
Helen, previous winner of a prize for young writers at the Manchester Writing Competition, added: “Winning the competition is a very big deal, it definitely was for me. It is a very prestigious prize and it boosts your confidence and gives you a sense of where you are going with your writing.”
The winners of this year’s £10,000 Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes were revealed at a gala ceremony in the medieval Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in Manchester city centre.