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Despite the constraints of the ongoing pandemic, scores of the county’s aspiring poets, authors, and scriptwriters gave their ideas full creative freedom in their submissions for this annual competition, which is run by the University of Chester.

And their efforts were duly rewarded at the 2020 Cheshire Prize for Literature Awards evening, which was live-streamed from Storyhouse last Friday (June 25) with renowned poet Daljit Nagra as the guest speaker.

For the first time in its history, the Prize opened across the four categories which usually rotate each year, giving more Cheshire scribes than ever before the chance to flex their literary muscle in fields such as short stories, poetry, children’s literature, and playwriting.

A record number of entries were submitted to this year’s competition and judges were impressed by the originality and inspirational responses to all aspects of the pandemic, including lockdown and what has become the ‘new normal’.

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Winners and runners up from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2020.
Winners and runners up from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2020.

Simon Poole, who is Programme Leader for the Master’s in Creative Practice in Education and the Associate Professor in Cultural Education and Research at Storyhouse, was among the panel of judges.

He said: “The entries highlighted how many of the writers have used the global situation as an opportunity to pause, reflect and create. 

“There was an exceptional standard of talent showcased in the submissions, and we’re looking forward to sharing these original pieces of work in print later this year.”

The category winners, who received £500 each, were as follows:

Leon Coleman, for the short story A Rock Called Pluto; Caitlin Norbury, for the script Home Sweet Home; Chris Nelson, for the children’s story New Background; and Paul Howarth, for the poem Residue.

Runners up were Esther Amis-Hughes, for the short story Relative Humidity; Julie McKiernan, for the script I Am Stars; Janys Chambers, from the children’s story for Lockdown 2041; and Maria Isakova-Bennett, for the poem Equinox 2020.

These writers, and a number of other shortlisted entrants, will see their work reproduced in the Cheshire Prize for Literature Anthology 2020, published by the University of Chester Press, in November and launched as part of the Litfest at Storyhouse. This event will also mark the date for 2021 Prize, will be based around the theme of ‘sustainability’.

Clockwise from left are: Esther Amis-Hughes with poet Daljit Nagra; Janys Chambers with poet Daljit Nagra; Julie McKiernan with poet Daljit Nagra; Leon Coleman and Chris Nelson.

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