News | Friday, 7th December 2018

Manchester Poetry Prize 2018 shortlist revealed

Professor Carol Ann Duffy DBE returns to judge winner in competition's 10th anniversary year

Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy established the Manchester Writing Competition in her first year as Poet Laureate

The shortlist for the 10th anniversary edition of the Manchester Poetry Prize has been revealed – with founder Carol Ann Duffy DBE returning to judge the contest in her final year as Poet Laureate.

Organised by Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Manchester Poetry Prize is part of the Manchester Writing Competition – the UK’s richest prize for unpublished writing.

Launched in 2008 by Creative Director of Manchester Writing School, Carol Ann Duffy DBE, to mark the commencement of her laureateship, each year £10,000 is awarded to the winners of the Poetry Prize and Manchester Fiction Prize.

The competition encourages new work and seeks out the best creative writing from across the world, establishing Manchester as the focal point for a major international literary award. 

The 2018 Manchester Poetry Prize features a shortlist of five, with three UK-based poets, and one each from the US and Australia.

The shortlisted writers are Zillah Bowes, Katie Hale, Libby Hart, Maggie Millner and Molly Underwood.

The judging panel for this year’s Poetry Prize is chaired by Adam O’Riordan, Academic Director of Manchester Writing School and includes the original 2008 judges Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Carol Ann Duffy DBE.

Carol Ann said: “The tenth edition of the Manchester Poetry Prize once again brought a wealth of diverse voices to the attention of the judges. We were impressed with the vibrancy and range of the poets, their connectedness to various traditions, and the energy with which they invigorated those traditions.

“It was fitting that we [the three judges from the first year] returned to judge the Manchester Poetry Prize again this year, alongside long-standing panel chair Adam, marking ten years of this competition.

“We have seen a remarkable decade of giving money to writers – which we always love to do! – and creating opportunities for writer development, launching and boosting literary careers.

“We are proud to have started something that has allowed various judging panels to seek out, celebrate and inspire the most vibrant and original poetic voices, old and young, new and established, from around the world.”

Since its launch, Manchester Writing Competition has attracted more than 17,000 submissions from over 50 countries and awarded more than £155,000 to its winners.

The competition has helped to accelerate the careers of many now established writers, including poet Helen Mort who used her 2008 prize money to buy a car and travel to poetry events around the country, Mandy Coe, Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit. Alison Moore, shortlisted for Fiction Prize in 2009, was later shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

The winners of this year’s £10,000 Poetry and Fiction Prizes will be revealed at a gala ceremony on Friday February 1 2019 in the atmospheric Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in the heart of Manchester.

The event will feature readings from each of this year’s finalists and a celebration of 10 years of the Manchester Writing Competition.

Dr Adam O’Riordan said: “The Prizes have brought brilliant new writers into the spotlight while inspiring established writers to produce and share some of their finest work.

“Collectively, the work on all of the shortlists from 2008 to this latest batch makes for a thrilling read, demonstrating the full breadth and range of contemporary poetry at its absolute best. We invite and encourage you to look back, read and enjoy.”

The shortlist for this year’s Manchester Fiction Prize will be announced later in the month, judged by Nicholas Royle, Niven Govinden, Livi Michael and Alison Moore.

Manchester Poetry Prize 2018 shortlist

All of the finalists' shortlisted poems are available to read in full via the Manchester Poetry Prize website. 

Zillah Bowes


Zillah is a writer and filmmaker. She has won the Wordsworth Trust Prize and Poems on the Buses Competition, and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Alpine Fellowship and Listowel Poetry Awards. She has received a Creative Wales Award and was a Hay Festival Writer at Work. Her poems have been published in Mslexia, Wasafiri, The North and The Next Review, among others. Her films include Small Protests, nominated for a Grierson Award, which won the Current Short Cuts Award. She is writing a first poetry collection and several screenplays. Zillah is based in Wales and works regularly in London.

Katie Hale

Born in Cumbria, Katie’s debut pamphlet, Breaking the Surface, was published by Flipped Eye in 2017. She has won the Jane Martin Poetry Prize and the Buzzwords Poetry Competition, and in 2019 will undertake residencies at The Wordsworth Trust, Passa Porta (Brussels) and the MacDowell Colony (New Hampshire, USA). Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Review, The North and Interpreter’s House, among others. Katie's debut novel, My Name is Monster, will be published by Canongate in 2019. She runs creative writing workshops in schools, and is working on a first full collection of poetry.


Libby Hart

Libby Hart is an Australian author of three collections of poetry: Fresh News from the Arctic (winner of the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Prize), This Floating World (shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and The Age Book of the Year Awards, and longlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards), and Wild (shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and named one of the Books of the Year for the Australian Book Review, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald). Libby is based in Melbourne, Australia.


Maggie Millner

Maggie Millner is a poet and teacher from rural upstate New York, USA. She is the recipient of fellowships from Poets & Writers, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and elsewhere. Maggie holds degrees in creative writing from New York University and Brown University and teaches in the Writing Program at Rutgers University. She lives with her cat in Brooklyn, New York.


Molly Underwood

Molly Underwood graduated with a degree in English from Queens’, Cambridge in 2014, and has spent most of her time travelling and working abroad since then, in Spain, Ireland and Vietnam. Last year she returned to the U.K. to complete a Master’s degree in Social and Cultural Theory. She is currently living and writing in London.

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