The winners of the 2017 Manchester Writing Competition have been announced: Sakinah Hofler has been awarded the £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize while the Poetry judges awarded £5,000 each to joint-winners Romalyn Ante and Laura Webb.

Quotes from the Winners and Judges

The winners of this year’s awards were revealed at a gala ceremony on Friday 1st December in the atmospheric Baronial Hall at Chetham’s Library in the heart of the city.

Sakinah Hofler was awarded the Fiction Prize for her entry ‘even the kids know better’. She lives in Cincinnati in the USA and is a former chemical and quality engineer who now spends her time teaching and writing fiction, screenplays and poetry.

Romalyn Ante and Laura Webb each submitted a collection of their poetry. Ante, who grew up in the Philippines and moved to the UK in 2005, received the Creative Future Literary Awards for Poetry in 2017. Webb, born in Birkenhead and now living in London, has completed a PhD in contemporary poetry and won the 2006 Blackwell Publishing/The Reader magazine ‘How to Write a Poem’ competition.

Sakinah Hofler, winner of the 2017 Fiction Prize, said: “I’m blown away right now. When I was shortlisted for the Poetry Prize last year, part of me was convinced it was a fluke. To be shortlisted again, this time for fiction, to know that my work, my words, continue to touch an audience gives me life. I’m grateful for the judges for seeing the potential in my work. I’m grateful to be among the company of the other finalists. I am grateful for Carol Ann Duffy for establishing this prize; prizes like these are needed to continue to elevate the importance of the written word and of art. Art is what lasts. Art tells us the truth when history won’t. And now, as always it seems, art is necessary during these troubled political times. Lastly, I’m grateful for the people in my life that continue to be my cheerleaders: my husband, my family, my best friends. Thank you.”

Laura Webb, joint-winner of the 2017 Poetry Prize said: “Poetry is a light in the world and one I'm immensely grateful to have, especially in challenging times. Poetry is where I have always felt most at home, and this award will allow me to spend more time in that home and, I hope, to welcome others into it. I'm so grateful, and hugely proud to have been a part of the competition. I want to thank everyone involved - the judging panel, Adam, Pascale and Mona, for being inspirations for my own work as well as selecting me for this prize - to Dame Carol Ann Duffy for creating both the prize, and so many poems which inspired me to write as I grew up. I sincerely thank the shortlisted poets and fiction writers, who it is a privilege to have been shortlisted alongside. As much of my recent writing aims to celebrate and pay thanks to fascinating, courageous women through history, this award is dedicated to them as sources of great strength and inspiration.”

Nicholas Royle, Reader in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, who judged the Fiction Prize alongside Bonnie Greer and Angela Readman said: “We felt privileged and humbled to read the innermost thoughts of these wordsmiths.”

Adam O’Riordan, Academic Director of Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, who chaired the Poetry Prize panel that featured former winners Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit, said: “Mona and Pascale worked incredibly hard and produced a short-list which reflected the quality of submissions to this year's competition.”

Poetry Prize Short-list

(in alphabetical order)

Romalyn Ante

Romalyn Ante grew up in the Philippines and moved to the UK in 2005. Her debut poetry pamphlet is Rice & Rain. She is a Jerwood/Arvon mentee 2017-2018. She is Commended in Battered Moons Poetry Competition and received Creative Future Literary Awards for Poetry in 2017. As a recipient of Artists’ International Development Fund, she travelled back to the Philippines in November 2017 to write about culture, identity, and reconnections, and to talk about her craft at De La Salle University, Manila.

Ella Frears

Ella Frears is a poet and visual artist based in south-east London. She has had poetry published in Poetry London, The Rialto, POEM and the Moth among others. Ella is a trustee and editor for Magma Poetry and was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London 2014. She has completed various residencies for Tate Modern, the National Trust, Newlyn Art Gallery and most recently she was Poet in Residence at Royal Holloway University writing about the Cassini Space Mission. Ella’s debut pamphlet Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity is forthcoming with Goldsmiths Press. 

Don Judson

Don Judson is a poet and fiction writer living in Attleboro, MA, USA. His writing honors in fiction include a Howard Foundation Award, a MacColl Johnson Fellowship and an Emerging Fiction Writer Award (for a novel) from New York University. Among others, he has won a 49th Parallel award and the Boudreaux Prize for poetry and been nominated for three Pushcart Awards. Poetry publications include Rhino, The Bellingham Review, 580 Split, Palooka, Witness, Tupelo Quarterly, and Nimrod. 

Carolyn King

Carolyn King lives on the Isle of Wight, where two of her poems are cast in bronze at Island landmarks and others are currently displayed at Freshwater’s ‘Dimbola Lodge’ as part of the 19th-century pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition. Carolyn was involved educationally for many years with language-impaired children and this is often reflected in her poetry. Since being short-listed for the Manchester Prize in 2013 she has taken first prizes in the Second Light annual competition and the ‘formal’ category of Poetry on the Lake, second prizes in the Thomas Gray Tercentenary, the Segora and the Sentinel annual poetry competitions and a number of other awards. 

Lindsay Means

Lindsay Means was born in California and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Winner of the 2015 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, she works as an editorial assistant at Riverhead Books. 



Laura Webb

Laura Webb was born in Birkenhead in 1985. In 2006 she won the Blackwell Publishing/ The Reader magazine ‘How to Write a Poem’ competition. She completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and a PhD on contemporary poetry at Sheffield University. Among other places, she has had poems published in CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets, Best Friends Forever, Poetry Ireland Review, The Manchester Review, Magma, Poems in Which, Poetry Wales, Stand, and The Rialto. She lives and works in London.

Fiction Prize Short-list

(in alphabetical order)

K. L. Boejden

K. L. Boejden was born in South Korea, grew up in Denmark, studied in Paris, and now lives and works in Norway. He finds the arctic cold and darkness almost as inspiring as the cafés in Paris.


Jane Fraser

Jane Fraser lives in the small village of Llangennith, on the Gower peninsula, south Wales where she co-directs NB: Design, a design agency, by day and writes at every other opportunity. She has a Creative Writing MA from Swansea University and a PhD for a collection of short fiction entitled, The South Westerlies. She is a winner of the British Haiku Society and Genjuan International Prize for haibun. She has been a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition and Fish Memoir Prize, been longlisted once for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize and seven times for the Manchester Fiction Prize.

Her work has been published in prize-winning anthologies including Accent and Momaya Press, and by New Welsh Review and The Lonely Crowd. She is grandmother to Megan 8, Florence 7 and Alice 3 who think it cool that, “Grandma’s been going to school to write stories”. 

Sakinah Hofler

Sakinah Hofler is a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati, where she is a Yates Fellow. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from Florida State University, where she was a recipient of the Kingsbury Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eunoia Review and Counterexample Poetics. A former chemical and quality engineer, she now spends her time teaching and writing fiction, screenplays, and poetry. 

P. F. Latham

Now in his 86th year, P. F. Latham grew up in the war and won his first prize for writing aged ten years and ten months (one is precise at that age). A reader all his life, he has been a soldier (briefly) a management consultant, director of a Housing corporation, and then Town Clerk at Stratford upon Avon. Currently he has a children's story on offer to half a dozen literary agents and a love story to another set of agents. So far none has offered to take on either book. 


Hannah Vincent

Hannah Vincent began her writing life as a playwright after studying drama at the University of East Anglia. She worked as a child-minder to help fund her MA in Creative Writing at Kingston and is currently carrying out doctoral research in creative and critical writing at the University of Sussex. Her first novel Alarm Girl was published by Myriad Editions in 2014 and her second The Weaning – about a psychotic child-minder – is forthcoming from Salt in February 2018.

David Wakely

Raised in South London, Dave Wakely has worked as a musician, university administrator, poetry librarian, and editor in locations as disparate as Bucharest, Notting Hill and Milton Keynes. Currently a freelance copywriter/editor after completing a Creative Writing MA, he lives in Buckinghamshire with his civil partner and too many guitars. His short stories have appeared in Ambit, Best Gay Stories 2017, Chelsea Station, Fictive Dream, Glitterwolf, Holdfast, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Prole, Shooter and Token. A poetry salon MC and one of the organisers of Milton Keynes Literature Festival.


As well as short-listing six finalists for the Fiction Prize, the judges also chose to highly commend some further stories.

  • Barclay Bradbury “The Interview”
  • Dominic David Burgess “McFly”
  • John Burns “Alberto Tomba and the List of Grievances”
  • Dakota Canon “Little Earthquakes”
  • Daniel Cordle “Surface Tension”
  • Christina Craigo “Sharp Cheddar with Dijon on Rye”
  • Helen de Burca “At the Border”
  • Rachel Despicht “Memory”
  • Tatiana Duvanova “Fast-Forward”
  • Peter Ferris “Working for Mr. Rambridge”
  • Clare Fielder “Services”
  • Laura Foakes “Deep Time”
  • Louise Goulding “Wild Mushroom Soup”
  • Deborah Gregory “Silas in the Sea”
  • Sarah Hegarty “Lucky”
  • Finegan Kruckemeyer “Nests”
  • Eamonn Lenihan “Our Little Secrets”
  • Niall McArdle “The Joker’s Smile Cannot Stop the World Turning”
  • Deirdre McAuley “Bruising”
  • Niamh MacCade “To Memorise the Lark”
  • Patrick McGuiness “A Place Where it’s Always Now”
  • Fozia Mubarak “After Malala Was Educated…”
  • Maia Nikitina “The Sea Creature”
  • Alberto Nissim “Lost in the Depths of the Ocean”
  • Michelle Redfern “Finding Treasure”
  • Khadija Rouf “At the Lido”
  • Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne “The Spacemen Them”
  • Tracey Slaughter “some facts about her home town”
  • Missy Smyth "Submerge"
  • Trevor Syrett “The Tiger in the Cage”
  • Natalia Theodoridou “All the Ophelias in My Flat”
  • Maria Thomas “Lucky”
  • Louise Tondeur “Falling”
  • Peter Yeoh “Small Auntie”

Read the 2017 short-listed stories and poems:

This year’s Poetry Prize was judged by Adam O’Riordan and former winners Mona Arshi and Pascale Petit. The Fiction Prize was judged by Nicholas Royle, Bonnie Greer and Angela Readman.

Nicholas Royle says that the judges of the Fiction Prize “read moving stories about people on the move, memorable stories about people with memory problems, and a science fiction story about a character called Charlie Parker who, sadly, did not play the saxophone. We read a small number of stories that were not much longer than Ernest Hemingway’s famous – or even apocryphal – six-word story and an enormous number of stories that were exactly 2499 words long, the image in one’s head of author after author bent over a keyboard in the middle of the night, stabbing repeatedly at the delete key to get under the 2500-word limit. Mostly we felt privileged and humbled to read the innermost thoughts of these many hundreds of wordsmiths.


  • ‘The Bed’ by K. L. Boejden from Stavenger, Norway: "The narrator of this unusual story of bereavement struggles to honour a promise."
  • ‘Connective Tissue’ by Jane Fraser from Swansea, UK: "Undergoing osteopathy, Maggie starts to understand how everything is connected."
  • ‘even the kids know better’ by Sakinah Hofler from Newark, USA: "A drive-by shooting in a New Jersey chicken shack – trivial causes and tragic consequences."
  • ‘The Boy and the Bewick’ by P.F.Latham from Devon, UK: "Evacuated during the war, his mother killed in the blitz, a brutally treated boy finds fellowship with a solitary swan."
  • ‘She-Clown’ by Hannah Vincent from Brighton, UK: "A children’s party entertainer considers another notch on her figurative bedpost."
  • ‘A Day Out’ by Dave Wakely from Milton Keynes, UK: "Six-year-old George has two daddies – Proper Daddy and Daddy Barry."

Adam O’Riordan said that, “this was another strong year for entries. The judges read work across a range of themes, with the mammalian and the avian in abundance. Mona and Pascale worked incredibly hard and produced a short-list which reflected the quality of submissions to this year's competition.


The Poetry judges had the following to say about each finalist’s portfolio of poems:

  • Romalyn Ante: "Rich and scrupulously attentive poems - this poet gave us language that seethed and teetered on the brink; this is powerful and exciting poetry."
  • Ella Frears: "A sequence of inventive approaches to the well-worn subject of the moon – bewitching and elemental poems that refresh a poetic cliché and restore it to the realm of wonder."
  • Don Judson: "Powerful poems, shocking and arresting by equal measure. This was raw, gripping work which had the judges on the edges of their seats."
  • Carolyn King: "Intimate and revelatory, supple yet brittle, the poet navigates through family, loss and estrangement all at once with surprising emotional force."
  • Lindsay Means: "Rich and compelling work in which the animal and mythical kingdoms are passed through with warmth and grace."
  • Laura Webb: "Eclectic poems that stunned us with their strangeness. Each line and image feels drawn from the depths to sound out the world in new ways, each poem different, yet marked with the poet’s astounding originality."

Competition Judges 2017

Poetry Prize Judges

‌Adam O'Riordan

‌Adam O'Riordan is Academic Director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met and has chaired the Manchester Poetry Prize panel since 2012. In 2008, he became the Wordsworth Trust Centre for British Romanticism’s youngest ever poet-in-residence and his first collection, In the Flesh, won a 2011 Somerset Maugham Award. His debut collection of short stories The Burning Ground was published by Bloomsbury in the UK and W.W. Norton & Company in the USA, and his second collection of poems A Herring Famine published by Chatto, in 2017.

Mona Arshi

‌Mona Arshi was born in West London where she still lives. She worked as a Human rights lawyer for a decade before she received a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and won the inaugural Magma Poetry competition in 2011. Mona was joint winner of the Manchester Poetry prize in 2014. Her debut collection Small Hands was published by Pavilion Poetry, part of Liverpool University Press, in Spring 2015. Small Hands won the Forward Prize for best first poetry collection in 2015. Her second collection is due to be published in 2019. (Photo credit Amanda Pepper Photography.)

Pascale Petit

‌Pascale Petit was born in Paris and lives in Cornwall. Her seventh collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017) is a Poetry Book Society Choice. Her sixth, Fauverie, was her fourth to be shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and five poems from it won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Pascale was one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation poets in 2004 and has had three collections selected as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. Her books have been translated into Spanish (in Mexico), Chinese, French and Serbian. In 2015 she received a Cholmondeley Award. (Photo credit Kaido Vainomaa.)


Fiction Prize Judges

‌Nicholas Royle

‌Nicholas Royle has chaired the judging panel for the Manchester Fiction Prize since 2009. He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met and the author of seven novels, including The Director’s CutAntwerp and First Novel. He has written more than 100 short stories, some of which feature in his collection Mortality. He has edited 20 anthologies, including six volumes of Best British Short Stories, and runs Nightjar Press, which publishes new stories in chapbook format. He lives in Manchester.

Bonnie Greer

‌Bonnie Greer was born in Chicago and has lived in the London for three decades. She is a dual national and often writes from that perspective. Her novels include Hanging By Her Teeth and Entropy. Non-fiction: Obama Music and Langston Hughes and a memoir, A Parallel Life. Her plays have been produced onstage and for BBC Radio, the latest being Ferguson (2016) and, for the stage, The Hotel Cerise (2016).

‌Angela Readman

Angela Readman’s stories have been winners of the Costa Short Story Award, Mslexia Short Story Prize and The National Flash Fiction Day Competition. Her work has been shortlisted in The Asham Award, The Bristol Prize,‌ The Bath Short Story Award and Manchester Fiction Prize. ‌Her debut short story collection Don’t Try This at Home (And Other Stories) won The Rubery Book Award in 2015 and was shortlisted for The Edge Hill Prize. She is also a poet, her latest book The Book of Tides (2016) was published by Nine Arches.


Notes for Editors

The Manchester Writing Competition was devised by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and is run by her team in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University: Presented in partnership with Manchester Literature Festival and sponsored by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

The copyright in each story and poem submitted remains with its author.

If you have any queries, or would like any further information, about the Manchester Writing Competition, please contact; +44 (0) 161 247 1787. Press enquiries: Dominic Smith:; +44 (0) 161 247 5277. The judges and finalists are all available for interview.

The 2018 Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes will open to entries in January 2018: We are looking to build relationships and explore opportunities with commercial and cultural sponsors and partners, so please get in touch:; +44 (0) 161 247 1787.


Winners and Short-list