The shortlist has been unveiled for the annual Wigtown Poetry Prize – with 25 entries now in the running for the five different awards.
Each year Scotland’s annual award for poetry in the country’s three indigenous languages attracts entries from around the world – nurturing poetry and providing a showcase for poets.
Nicholas Walker, Wigtown Poetry Prize Group Chair, said: “The prize has earned a worldwide reputation for the quality of entries and for championing poetry in each of the country’s indigenous languages.
“This year’s awards further underline the point, with entries coming from as far afield as Finland, Israel, Japan and New Zealand.
“We are also pleased to be nurturing talent from within our own region through the Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voices Award.
“Just making it onto the shortlist is a tremendous achievement from the hundreds of entries we received; and I would like to congratulate every one of the people who has reached this stage.
“We are now looking forward to the judges’ final decisions, and being able to announce the winners at a special event during this month’s Wigtown Book Festival.”
There are five elements to the Wigtown Poetry Prize:
- The Wigtown Prize. Open to work in English, Scots or Scottish Gaelic. The winner receives £1,500 and the runner up £200.
- The Wigtown Scots Prize. £500, runner-up £200 (supported by the Saltire Society).
- The Wigtown Gaidhlig Prize. £500, runner-up £200 (supported by Comhairle nan Leabhraichean / The Gaelic Books Council).
- Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voices Award. For poets living in, or from, Dumfries and Galloway who have never professionally published a full length collection. The prize is a package of professional support including mentoring by Wigtown Festival Company and a retreat hosted by Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre.
- Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize. Named in memory of one of Scotland’s foremost literary talents, which recognises a collection of work rather than individual poems. The prize for the work to be set as a pamphlet by Gerry Cambridge and published by the Wigtown Festival Company.
Donald S Murray, (pictured) who is judging The Wigtown Prize and the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize, said: “Among the hundreds of poems I came across while judging this competition, there were a countless number that impressed me.
“Some were playful and amusing, full of fun and laughter; others touching and moving, dealing with grief and loss. Some were inspirational in their sheer simplicity; others more complex and deserving of great thought and exploration.
“The most difficult task was narrowing the range down to a shortlist. There were many – in Gaelic, English and Scots – that deserved to be included. This was especially true among the contenders for the Alasdair Reid Pamphlet Prize. I relished and enjoyed much of the work I encountered while going through the pages of these varied and powerful collections.
“I have no doubt, however, of the quality of the verse that is shortlisted.
“Their words sparkled and shone, entering both my vision and understanding each time I experienced the strength of their imagery and language. Each one is a wonder of sorts. I feel blessed in being given the chance to explore them.”
The winners will be announced at a special event in the County Buildings, Wigtown, hosted by Hugh McMillan as part of the Wigtown Book Festival on Friday, 29 September at 7.30pm.
- A Journey to the Interior of the Earth Gillian Dawson
- My Aunt Betty Robert Duncan
- Lilias Stephanie Green
- April Lambing Anita John
- Winter Solstice Rachel Rankin
- My Mother Unwraps My Gift of Frida Kahlo’s Me and My Parrots John Wheway
Wigtown Scots Prize
- Juist Craig Aitchison
- Junkie Lust Helen Cross
- The Auld Words Fiona Frank
- Peer Breiths Keeks Mc
Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize
- Mapaichean Seonaidh Charity
- Ainneamhag Gheal Marcas Mac an Tuairneir
- An Geama Mairi MacLeod
- An Dealbh as Fhearr do dh’Astràilia Marion F Morrison
- Thus’ air mo chuimhne Tia Thomson
Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize
- Ensō Jill Abram
- Some Things I Do Not Know Arthur Allen
- Exile Anjali Suzanne Angel
- Ortelius’s Sea Monsters Stephanie Green
- Hunter’s Moon Steve May
- extracts from a haibun-style poem cycle Jane McBeth
- You Ask Why I Seldom Write About Men Sarah Stewart
Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award
- Sunshine Against Shadow Robin Leiper
- That Day Jane McBeth
- One Moonless Night Diane Schofield.
The 2023 judges
- Wigtown Poetry Prize and Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize – Donald S Murray (author and poet)
- Scots prize – Lennie Pennie (Scots language poet)
- Gaidhlig prize – Rody Gorman (renowned for his Scottish Gaelic poetry)
- Fresh Voices Award – Susi Briggs (author, poet, storyteller and musician).
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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.
- Website: www.wigtownpoetryprize.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/WigtownPoetryPrize
- Email: [email protected]
This year’s competition takes place in association with:
- The Gaelic Books Council https://www.gaelicbooks.org
- Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre https://www.moniackmhor.org.uk
- Saltire Society https://www.saltiresociety.org.uk
- Scottish Poetry Library https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
- StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival http://www.stanzapoetry.org
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.
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]