Daljit Nagra

Judges Report Overview for 2018

Poetry – Daljit Nagra

Daljit NagraBeing invited to hear someone’s revelations or considered reflections is always a moment of great privilege and responsibility. Suddenly the world feels so sensitive and serious, because the listener will be keeping that moment to themselves, or taking away an admission that might well revive them in some way. Poetry too is that frank conversation with an assumed other who cares to hear us out.

Judging a poetry competition feels a communal, a social and a moral act, where we are at our best and ready to receive. I love this aspect of judging a poetry prize, that it will bring out the best in me for the way I attend to each poem, for the way I will leave the room of the poems enriched, and above all, that I will be able to share those riches with the audience of the prize.

I have hugely enjoyed judging the Bridport Prize. So many moments of revelation and insight came my way, and from all the conversations I listened to, I have selected my winners. Many good poems missed out and several of the winning poems could have been more successful; as a judge, it’s difficult to know what unconscious forces have guided your selection.

I have tried my best to be objective and merit the best crafted, the moments of greatest insight or artful play, that the poems felt they matched form to content with effective tension, that the poems felt the right length, while surprising me with the journey they had taken from beginning to end, and that there has been an imaginative and intellectual ambition which has carried the poem across its distance.

Perhaps most of all, memorability is the key guide, that strange combination of acoustic, symbolic, phrase making and other elements that go into creating a fresh world of rumination, and that has stayed vividly me for days after first reading that poem. I hope many of the winning poems will stay vividly with me much longer than the duration of the judging period.

This year's poetry judge is Hollie NcNish.



Short Stories – Monica Ali

Monica AliReading through this year’s entries I thought a lot about what makes a great short story truly great. The best ones make the back of your neck tingle. They make you feel newly alive to the world. They suck you in fast, and they do it by weaving character, setting, story, voice, dialogue and whatever other elements of the craft, into a scene that makes you wonder what will happen next, what has happened before.

Many of the less successful stories, though fluently written, relied too heavily on narrative summary, so that the reader was kept at a distance, relying on second hand information instead of watching the story unfold.

The stories that stand out are diverse in almost every way but one. They favour the particular over the general. They make the reader see, and therefore feel, through the judicious use of precise detail.

This year's short stories judge is Kirsty Logan.



Flash Fiction – Monica Ali

Monica AliI take my hat off to everyone who entered. The standard was high and making the selections was difficult, but not as difficult as crafting a brilliant piece of fiction in only 250 words.

I am in awe of anyone who can write can write decent flash fiction. It’s a really tough business to create an entire story, build a world, bring a character to life in so few words.

The best of the entries this year left a lingering presence, an impression on the imagination that filled far more space in the mind than on the page. They resonated long after the final line. Many of the entries touched on death and loss and packed some emotional heft. Others were touching and also funny.

This year's flash fiction judge is Kirsty Logan.

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