The judges have been revealed for Wigtown Poetry Prizes – Scotland’s international three-language awards – and they have revealed what they will be looking for in a winning entry.

The awards date back to 2005 and celebrate the country’s three indigenous languages – English, Gaelic and Scots.

The Wigtown Poetry Prizes have grown to become a renowned contribution to the world of poetry, attracting hundreds of high-quality entries from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America.

One of the great strengths of the awards is its panel of judges – respected figures with a deep love and understanding of their fields.

This year they have each explained a little about what they are looking for from entries (which are open until 6 May).

  • Wigtown International Poetry Prize 
  • Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize

Judge: Gerda Stevenson

Gerda is an award-winning writer/actor/director/singer-songwriter, working in theatre, TV, opera, radio and film. She has appeared at literary festivals throughout the UK and across Europe.

Her play, Federer Versus Murray, toured to New York, sponsored by the Scottish Government, and her first two poetry collections, If This Were Real, and Quines: Poems in Tribute to Women of Scotland, have also been published in Rome in Italian translations. Her most recent publications are a book of short stories, Letting Go: a Timeline of Tales, and a third poetry collection, Tomorrow’s Feast.

The founder of Scotland’s leading women’s theatre company STELLAR QUINES, she has directed and appeared in many theatre productions and films, including Braveheart, and won a BAFTA for her performance in Margaret Tait’s feature film Blue Black Permanent.

Gerda said: “I’m honoured to be invited to judge the Wigtown International Poetry Prize. Poetry can reveal itself in many ways, and, perhaps because I work across various art forms, my taste in poetry is fairly wide.

I think a good poem should be a revelation, the powerful distillation of an experience, or an idea. Here are two definitions of poetry that I like: ‘Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.’ (T.S. Eliot). ‘Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.’ (Carl Sandburg).

As a musician, I appreciate poetry which pays careful attention to sound as well as meaning. I look forward to reading the submissions.”

  • Wigtown Scots Poetry Prize (supported by the Saltire Society)
  • Judge: Ann MacKinnon

Ann writes poetry in both Scots and English and is widely published in anthologies and magazines. In 2014 a New Scottish Writers’ Award for writing in Scots, enabled her to complete a pamphlet called ‘Nae Flooers’, published by Tapsalteerie which was shortlisted for the Calum MacDonald Prize.

She has been placed in the McCash Poetry Competition several times. The anthology Modren Makars: Yin was published by Tapsalteerie in 2022. All three writers featured in it write in Scots.

In 2022 she was nominated for Scots Language Writer of the Year in the Scots Language Awards. Her latest pamphlet, ‘Warp and Weft’, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2023.

Ann said: “I would like to see Scots being used to deal with serious and unusual subjects. I hope to hear the rhythm and cadences of the language and would prefer concrete images rather than abstractions.”

  • Gaidhlig Prize: Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize (supported by The Gaelic Books Council)
  • Judge: Pàdraig MacAoidh/Peter Mackay

’S ann à Leòdhas a tha Pàdraig, agus chaidh dà leabhar bàrdachd leis fhoillseachadh le Acair: Gu Leòr (2015) agus Nàdur De (2020). Tha e a’ fuireach ann an Dun Èideann.

Thuirt Pàdraig: “Tha mi a’ coimhead air adhart gu mòr ri leughadh dè thigeas a-steach airson farpais bàrdachd Baile na h-Ùige am bliadhna-sa. Gu h-àraidh tha mi a’ sireadh dàn a bhios a’ toirt sùil air an t-saoghal ann an dòighean inntinneach, le mac-meanma, liut agus pongalachd – agus’s dòcha beagan spòrs.

Peter is a poet, translator, broadcaster and lecturer. He has two collections with Acair, Galore (2015) and Some Kind of (2020). Originally from the Isle of Lewis, he lives in Edinburgh and works in the School of English at the University of St Andrews.

Peter said: “I’m really looking forward to reading the poems entered for this year’s Wigtown Poetry Prizes Gaelic prize. In particular, I’m hoping for poems that look at the world in interesting ways, with imagination, wit and precision – and maybe a little fun.”

  • Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award
  • Judge: Liz Niven

Liz is a widely published poet. Her collections include: Stravaigin, Burning Whins, The Shard Box (Canongate & Luath Press, Edinburgh). Her public art collaborations include text in stone and wood.

The author of Scots Dossier for European Bureau of Minority Languages (Mercator), she has edited a wide range of literature including New Writing Scotland (ASLS) and education resources for poetry and Scots language. Awards include McCash poetry prize, Saltire/TESS. 

She is an honorary fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and convener of Scottish PEN’s Writers-in-exile committee.

Liz said: “I’m delighted to be invited to judge Wigtown’s Fresh Voice Award. I’m looking for poetry with exciting and engaging content, confident and concise form, delivered in a strong original voice.

Each year the awards are made at a special event during the Wigtown Book Festival, which this year takes place from 27 September to 6 October in Scotland’s National Book Town.

Nicholas Walker, Wigtown Poetry Prize Group Chair, said: “We have a truly outstanding group of judges for 2024 – people with a real dedication to nurturing and showcasing contemporary poetry.

Over the years the Wigtown Poetry Prizes have won international recognition for the quality of the entries and as an important element of nurturing poetry in each of Scotland’s indigenous languages.

Like the judges I am very much looking forward to seeing the entries that this year’s awards attract and to helping bring the work of contemporary poets from all round the world to a wider audience.”

– ENDS –

The 2024 awards

Wigtown International Prize

  • Winner: £1,500
  • Runner-up: £200

Wigtown Scots Prize

  • Winner: £500
  • Runner-up: £200

Supported by Saltire Society

Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize

  • Winner: £500
  • Runner-up: £200

Supported by The Gaelic Books Council

Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award

Professional support including mentoring by Wigtown Festival Company and a retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.

Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize

  • Winner: Thirty copies of a pamphlet of the work, set by Gerry Cambridge.

Plus – a winner of one or more categories will be selected at the discretion of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and Wigtown Festival Company to read their work at the StAnza.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

About the Wigtown Poetry Prize

Founded in 2005 and refreshed and rebranded in 2019, Wigtown Poetry Prize welcomes entries from poets writing in English wherever they may live. Separate categories celebrate the best of Scottish Gaelic and Scots language poetry, a special category acknowledges a rising talent in Dumfries & Galloway, and a pamphlet prize is named in memory of Alastair Reid – local poet and one of Scotland’s foremost literary figures.

About Stephanie Green

  • Stephanie was born in Sussex, with an English father and Irish mother. She has a BA from Trinity College, Dublin (1970) and a Masters in Modernism in English Literature and Fine Art at Kent University (1978). In 2004 she graduated with an MPhil in Creative Writing from Glasgow University where her supervisor was Liz Lochead.
  • Her love of poetry began as a 15-year-old and she began writing love poems in her 20s, with becoming a “serious” poetry writer while living in Wales in her 40s.
  • As a young woman she worked at The Tower Bookshop in London which was frequented by many leading poets of the time.
  • She was the recipient of a New Writer Award 2007, several Creative Scotland Awards (2010-15), and was selected for Best Poems published in Scotland (2004/5). 
  • Her poem The Child of Breckon Sands was set to music for voice and piano by Marisa Sharon Hartanto and performed by mezzo-soprano, Alison Wells at the St Magnus Festival, Orkney, 2013
  • The poem Light was part of an installation in Dumfries, 2015.
  • Stephanie’s poem Ayre inspired a dance piece choreographed by Matthew Hawkins and performed by Platinum Dance at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 2015.
  • Rewilding: Brodgar Poetry/Sound Walk appeared as part of the Orkney Nature Festival, 2023 but is also available online.
  • Since 2020 she has co-curated PoetryLit, a popular monthly online poetry reading event with a global reach.
  • Find out more about Stephanie at

About The Gaelic Books Council

Comhairle nan Leabhraichean (The Gaelic Books Council) is the lead organisation with responsibility for supporting Scottish Gaelic authors and publishers, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic books in Scotland and internationally. Established in 1968, Comhairle nan Leabhraichean is a registered charity and receives support from Creative Scotland and from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

About The Saltire Society

The Saltire Society seeks to encourage everything that might improve the quality of life in Scotland. It works to preserve all that is best in Scottish traditions and to encourage new developments which can strengthen and enrich the country’s cultural life. It acts as a catalyst, celebrant and commentator through an annual programme of awards, lectures, debates and projects. Founded in 1936 is a non-political independent charity with membership branches throughout Scotland.

About StAnza

StAnza’s mission is to celebrate poetry, to bring poetry to audiences and to enable encounters with poetry. The organisation works all year round to deliver poetry events and projects in Scotland and beyond. Its main focus is the annual festival in St Andrews each spring and it is recognised as one of the leading poetry festivals in the UK and Europe. StAnza also actively promotes readings in foreign or minority languages and has featured poets reading in many of the national languages of Europe, as well as in regional languages and dialects. We regularly include Gaelic and Scots language poets.

For media information and interview requests contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or [email protected]