Northern Writers’ Awards winners announced at ceremony in Newcastle upon Tyne

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The 19 winners of the Northern Writers’ Awards 2014 were announced on Tuesday 17 June at the official ceremony in Newcastle upon Tyne.

This year’s winners highlight the breadth of talent coming from the North of England. Of the up-and-coming young poets from the North, judge Jean Sprackland said:

“I’m confident that these winning poets are in a position to make a real impact on poetry in Britain. Awards like this can make a powerful difference, and it’s a joy to be able to support poets at different stages in their writing lives.”

One of the young poetry winners, Andrew McMillan, has been snapped up by Jonathan Cape publishers since he applied for an award, and fellow winner Kim Moore has had a lot of interest from publishers in recent weeks. Another winner, Phoebe Power, is just 21, and is currently sitting her finals at university.

This year also saw the first ever Cuckoo Young Writers prize being awarded for writers aged 15 – 18 from the North. This year’s award, which is entirely funded by public donations, went to Jasmine Simms, from Halifax. She is just 18 years old and sitting her A Levels. The judge, journalist and novelist Elizabeth Day, said of her work:

“[Jasmine is] a writer of extraordinary power.  Her poems are lyrically precise, clear-sighted and truthful. I’m amazed at how much talent she has for someone so young.”

Elizabeth awarded a further four young writers with a special commendation, commenting:

“What hope it gives me for the future! I basically forgot I was reading the work of teenagers – their writing was so fluent, so well-crafted and so engrossing that it was incredibly hard to choose between them.”

The awards, which have been running since 2000, were created and are managed by New Writing North, the writing development agency for the North of England. They reward writers whose work shows exceptional promise and support the development of their writing careers. Writers from across the North of England are able to apply for cash prizes and bursaries, for in-depth literary critiques for their works-in-development, and residential creative writing courses with Arvon.  

Winners are also invited to attend a publishing industry networking event hosted by New Writing North in London where the writers get to pitch their work to top literary agents and editors.

Initially only available to writers in the North East of England, the Northern Writers’ Awards opened up to writers from across the North for the 2013 intake, which led to over three times as many submissions this year and last.

Anna Disley, acting chief executive of New Writing North, said:

“The Northern Writers’ Awards offer a unique package of cash, support and introductions that has seen many writers go on to achieve book deals, residencies and commissions.  We have achieved a real reputation amongst publishers and cultural organisations as talent spotters, so winning an award can open doors for promising writers.

“The core of the publishing industry remains focused in and on London, and so part of our awards scheme is to take the writers to those key agents and editors.”

Key partners for New Writing North in making the awards happen are Arts Council, England and Northumbria University.  2014 is the third year that the awards have been supported by Northumbria University and New Writing North is delighted that the university has confirmed its ongoing support for the awards in 2015.

The partnership is based on the organisations’ shared aims, which are to identify and develop talent; to connect talent to industry; and to connect researchers to writers and the wider public.

Recent initiatives include co-delivery of a module on the business of writing for undergraduates featuring top agents, publishers and writers; Crime Story, a festival for crime writers and readers; and a joint publication featuring writer Michael Chaplin’s and Professor Keith Shaw’s enquiry about the distinctiveness of the North East to be presented at Durham Book Festival 2014.

Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice Chancellor Business and Engagement at Northumbria University, said:

 “The Northern Writers’ Awards are at the heart of our partnership with New Writing North, demonstrating our shared commitment to celebrating and nurturing creative talent in the region. As our partnership has grown, we have been able to co-produce inspirational programmes and creative opportunities that enable us to make new connections, share expertise and support innovative research.
Our work with New Writing North is an excellent example of a research-rich, business-focused partnership that brings together two like-minded organisations to combine resources, develop creative expertise and talent, and achieve our shared aims.”

Potts Print (UK) are also project sponsors, and enable the awards publicity to become carbon neutral.

The full list of winners for 2014 is:

Chloe Daykin, from Hexham
Sarah Dunnakey, from Hebden Bridge
Michael Edwards, from Teesside
Addy Farmer, from South Yorkshire
Naomi Lever, from Newcastle

Deborah Finn, from Lancaster, won the Andrea Badenoch Prize for Fiction, for women writers over the age of 42, the age at which Andrea was first published. The award is funded by donations from her friends and family and is judged by them too.

Andrew Forster, from Grange-over-Sands
Andrew McMillan, from Barnsley
Kim Moore, from Barrow in Furness
Phoebe Power, from Penrith
Julian Turner, from Otley
Ben Wilkinson, from Sheffield

Andrew Waterhouse Award
Polly Atkin, from Grasmere

Also awarded tonight were prizes for young writers:

Jasmine Simms, 18, from Halifax

Highly Commended
Ila Colley, from Kendal
Bronwen Fraser, from Hexham
Jake Raffle, from Stanley
Daniella Watson, from Gateshead

Justine Mewton, 14, from Newcastle nominated by Rachel Gaffney, her teacher from Heaton Manor School, Newcastle.

A further five writers are receiving bursary prizes for their prose works-in-progress, in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (TLC) and Arvon. The bursary winners will receive either a full manuscript appraisal from TLC, worth £500 or a full bursary to attend a week-long Arvon residency worth £680.

Awards alumni include many writers whose work has gone on to be published including Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Carol Clewlow, Mari Hannah, Sean O’Brien, Jacob Polley, Dan Smith, John Murray and Niel Bushnell.

The awards are open to writers of any genre from literary fiction to poetry and writing for children.

For more information about the Northern Writers’ Awards and New Writing North, please go to The 2015 Northern Writers’ Awards will open for entries in October 2014.