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Judge, Hollie McNish

1st Prize : Fathima Zahra

Things I wish I could trade my headscarf for

I’ve been entering competitions for about a year. I’m 22 and a biomedical science student at Queen’s University, London. I want to go into research but also continue writing poetry. To me both worlds are quite similar: both are rooted in observation. I started writing at 13 and at the time I was in Saudi Arabia and there were no competitions or literary scenes that I was aware of so it’s only when I moved to England that it was more accessible to me. I got long listed for a couple of poetry prizes before this but the Bridport Prize is the first big one that I’ve won.

2nd Prize : Jim McElroy


Jim McElroy is a new voice first published in 2018. His work led to his selection by Poetry Ireland as one of Ireland’s emerging poets for their Introductions Series 2019. He has read at the International Literature Festival Dublin, the Hillsborough Literary Festival and the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast. His poetry has been published in the Cap Arts New Writer’s Anthology in both 2018 and 2019 and in The Honest Ulsterman. He is an honours graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast (Business) and a member of the Institute Of Directors. His poetry muses over the first and second age, stares into the third. He is working towards his first collection.

3rd Prize : Mark Farley

Three Candles

Mark was raised in Africa – a childhood spent running wild and barefoot in sunny scrubland, during which he survived two dog maulings, a swarm of killer bees and being run over by a horse. His published work includes Flying Ants', Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine; Hugs are more important than potatoes, Amaryllis Poetry; The Walrus, the Carpenter and the Grubbertun' Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis; Sync' and 'Floating, The Casket of Fictional Delights; Earlier Than Camels, Domestic Cherry; You will remember Vienna, The Literary Hatchet; and Grans & Ammo, Sanitarium Horror Magazine (a factual account of mad old ladies fighting zombies).

Highly commended : Dominic Price

Art History

Dominic graduated from college with a degree in English & History. Since then, he has spent short periods of time in work and long periods of time out of work. He is indebted to his parents, with whom he lives, to his friends, for their support, and to the State, for its largesse. He currently volunteers for one of the UK’s largest charities and continues to write in his spare time.

Highly commended : Mark Fiddes

Assembling God

Mark is a previous Bridport Prize runner up (2015). He has published two books of poetry, The Rainbow Factory and The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre with Templar Publishing. He was placed third this year in the National Poetry Competition and has won the Ruskin Prize among many other international awards. His work has appeared in Poetry Review, The Irish Times, Poem Magazine, Magma and The New European. He's currently in the Middle East.

Highly commended : Kenneth Steven

Big Jim

Kenneth is a widely published poet, novelist and children’s author. Sixteen of his poetry collections have appeared to date, and he has written and presented many poetry-related programmes for BBC Radio. His best-known collections are IONA, A SONG AMONG THE STONES and WEST. He is published by Saint Andrew Press, Wild Goose Publications and SPCK.

Highly commended : Sharon Phillips


Sharon started learning to write poems a few years ago, after she retired as Principal of King Edward VI College, Stourbridge. Her poems have been published online and in print, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2017), the Indigo Firsts pamphlet competition (2018) and the WoLF Poetry Competition (2019). Sharon won the Borderlines Poetry Competition in 2017 and was among the winners of the Poetry Society Members’ Competition in November 2018. She has recently moved to Otley, in West Yorkshire.

Highly commended : Penny Boxall


Penny won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, the 2018 Mslexia/PBS Poetry Competition and a 2019 Northern Writers’ Award. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Alpine Fellowship. She has held residencies at Gladstone’s Library, Hawthornden Castle and Chateau de Lavigny. From autumn 2019 she is Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford.

Highly commended : Joshua Blackman


Joshua graduated from the University of Sussex in 2016 with an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature. He lives in Bognor Regis and, when not writing poetry, works in an art gallery bookshop in Chichester.

Highly commended : Lani O'Hanlon

Ghost Apples

Lani is the author of Dancing the Rainbow (Mercier Press) and a Poetry Chapbook The Little Theatre (Artlinks) and facilitates creative writing, movement and dance with Waterford Healing Arts Trust. She has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University and has studied fiction with The Stinging Fly. She received a travel and training award in 2017 from the National Arts Council to complete a first novel set in Ireland and Greece.

Highly commended : Stephen Spratt


Stephen is a researcher and writer who was born and brought up in Oxfordshire. He lived for many years in Brighton, undertaking research and teaching at the Institute of Development Studies, and slowly developing what has become a deep interest in poetry. He has been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Competition and published in Poetry Ireland Review, and now lives in West Cork in Ireland where he tries to balance work and family life, while also writing the odd poem.

Highly commended : Marie-Louise Eyres

Tinder Box

Marie-Louise was briefly an actor then she worked for several years in London literary agencies and at the BBC, where she negotiated deals for writers and performers. She has spent the past decade in the USA, living in Los Angeles and Washington DC with her favourite husband, Alan and their children. Her poems have featured in various print and online journals including Smiths Knoll, Obsessed with Pipework, Iota, Rain Dog, The Coffee House, Fragments, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Write Launch, Algebra of Owls, Cathexis Northwest Press.

Highly commended : Alison Binney

The Way You Knew

Alison teaches English in a secondary school and on the PGCE course at the University of Cambridge. She has recently been published in The North, Magma, Under the Radar, The Fenland Reed and Impossible Archetype. Two of her poems currently appear on buses in Guernsey, and she has a poem forthcoming in a Smith/Doorstop anthology of poems about running.

Judge, Kirsty Logan

1st Prize : Ross Foster


Winning was an incredible experience and a great honour. As with many writers, my relationship with writing is one full of self-doubt, false starts and the occasional dizzying highs of when an idea comes together. Being recognised by the Bridport Prize amongst a group of incredibly talented writers has given me the confidence and affirmation to call myself an author for the first time. Getting the call to say I'd won first prize, I remember at first not believing it! It was truly a dream come true.

2nd Prize : Sulaxana Hippisley

The Quarter Loaf

Sulaxana has taught A-level English for the last eleven years and currently teaches in a Sixth form college in North London. Her short stories have been long listed by the Bristol Short Story Prize, Desi Writers Lounge and Chawton House's Jane Austen Short Story Award. In 2014, she was awarded runner up in the Asian Writer Short Story competition for her story, On being Mary. In 2017, she was selected to be part of the Almasi League, a writer development programme run under the tutelage of Courttia Newland and the Arts Council. More recently, her memoir, This is the house my father built was shortlisted for the 2019 Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. She is currently working on a novel set in Sri Lanka and lives in North West London with her four year old daughter.

3rd Prize : Anna Metcalfe

Start Again

Anna's first book of short stories, Blind Water Pass, was published by John Murray in 2016. Her work has appeared in The Best British Short Stories, The Dublin Review, Lighthouse Journal, The Warwick Review and The Lonely Crowd and has previously been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award. She lives in Birmingham and teaches Creative Writing.

Highly commended : Mikaella Clements


Mikaella is an Australian writer currently based in Berlin. Her fiction has been published in Hazlitt, Catapult, Overland Literary Journal and more, and her non-fiction has been published widely. She was shortlisted for the Galley Beggar Prize 2019, and her fiction has been anthologised in Black Inc.'s Best Summer Stories and Kill Your Darlings' New Australian Fiction. Her first novel The View Was Exhausting, which she co-wrote with her wife Onjuli Datta is due out in summer 2021, via Headline in the UK and Commonwealth and Grand Central in the US.

Highly commended : Gemma Reeves


Gemma is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths. She has co-written award-winning non-fiction books and children's storybooks. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize. She has recently completed her first novel VICTORIA PARK, represented by Seren Adams at United Agents.

Highly commended : Nici West


Nici is the co-founder and editor of Boudica Press and a freelance copywriter and editor. Her stories have been published in Dark Ink Press, Dark Lane Books, Weave Magazine, Nib Magazine, Dead Ink, and she was shortlisted for the Flash Mob Writing Competition at Chorlton Arts Festival. Her short story Donor was shortlisted for the Willesden Herald Short Story Prize.

Highly commended : Hesse Phillips

The Way Of The Pack

Hesse is an alumna of GrubStreet Boston's Novel Incubator Program and currently has a novel in progress. She also holds a PhD in Drama, specializing in Elizabethan theatre. Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, she now lives in Madrid, Spain with her wife.

Highly commended : Joseph Allen Boone

The Sound Of Water

Joseph is the author of three works of non-fiction:The Homoerotics of Orientalism; the libretto for CON-MAN, a musical "apocalypse" based on Herman Melville's The Confidence-Man; and eight short stories. He has recently completed a novel, Furnace Creek. Last year this was the only adult novel among seven finalists for the Leapfrog Press Fiction award, and this year it was one of three highly commended finalists (and only novel) in the multi-genre Beverly Prize competition. His stories have been finalists in the Hackney Literary Awards story competition, the F(r)iction Magazine Short Story Contest, the New South Writing Contest, and the Rick DeMarinis Short Story contest. These and other stories are currently being gathered in a manuscript titled Precocity. Joseph is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, the Huntington Library, the National Humanities Center, and the Stanford Humanities Center and residencies at Bellagio, Bogliasco, and Valaraiso.

Highly commended : Jane Flett

Exactly The Thing That You Are

Jane is a Scottish writer living in Berlin. Her work has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4, anthologised in the Best British Poetry and awarded the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award. She’s been published in over 70 literary journals and translated into Polish, Croatian and Japanese. Jane is also a recipient of the New Orleans Writing Residency and one half of the riot-grrrl band Razor Cunts.

Highly commended : Amy Stewart

Wolf Women

Amy is a freelance copywriter by day, writer of woman-centric speculative fiction by night. She has a degree in English Language and Literature from Newcastle University, and has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at York St John University. Originally from Edinburgh, she now lives in York with her partner, Phil.

Highly commended : Alissa Jones Nelson


Alissa grew up in Southern California and has since traveled widely and lived in Spain, the Czech Republic, Japan, Scotland, and Germany. Her first novel was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize, and her short story Elsewhere, OK was a runner-up for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize. She was a finalist for the 2019 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Fiction and the 2019 Craft Short Fiction Prize. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Home Is Elsewhere and 27 Stories. She holds a PhD from the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at the University of St. Andrews. She lives in Berlin, where she earns her living as an editor and translator.

Highly commended : Jenny Karlsson

I Shouldn't Be Calling This Late

Jenny Karlsson lives in her native Swedish Lappland where she is editing her short stories and working odd jobs. She holds a Creative Writing MA from the University of East Anglia and her work has appeared in The White Review.

Highly commended : Jimmy Lowther

Salva Nos

Jimmy comes from Durham but has lived in Wiltshire since 1991. He recently retired from a career in the NHS. Before entering the nursing profession he had been a tractor driver, bin man and soldier. He studied English at Bath Spa University College and completed an MA at Manchester University. He has previously published poetry in Envoi, Reach, and The Journal.

Judge, Kirsty Logan

1st Prize : Maria Donovan


Maria grew up in Bridport before moving to the Netherlands, where she trained as a nurse. She travelled around Europe as a musician and performer, studied English at the University of Glamorgan, and worked as a teacher there, becoming a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing. She now lives back home in Bridport and is writing full time: mainly flash fiction, short stories and her second novel.

2nd Prize : Mike Kilgannon

The Hercules Reopened

Mike is an English teacher and dad living in Sheffield. He grew up in St Helens, Merseyside and has been scribbling in secret ever since. The Hercules Reopened is his first published piece of flash fiction.

3rd Prize : Amanda O’Callaghan


Amanda is based in Brisbane. Her short stories and flash fiction have been published and won awards in Australia, the UK and Ireland. Her work has been awarded and shortlisted in the Bath Flash Fiction Award, Flash 500, Bristol Short Story Prize, Aeon Award and Fish Short Story Prize. A former advertising executive, Amanda has an English degree from King’s College London and a PhD from the University of Queensland. Her debut collection, This Taste for Silence, was published by the University of Queensland Press in June 2019. It was shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction.

Highly commended : Isabella Mead

Genocide Memorial Week, Rwanda 2019

Isabella is Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford, through which she leads the teaching of the art of storytelling and creative writing. She previously worked as Learning Manager at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre and as a secondary English teacher in London. From 2010 to 2012 she spent 2 years in a rural Rwandan village training teachers through VSO. Her poems have been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition (2017), Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize (2016), the Cafe Writers Prize (2018) and the Mslexia Pamphlet Competition (2017). This is her first piece of fiction.

Highly commended : Daniel Bennett


Daniel was born in London. He is primarily a visual artist, painting under the name of 'Daniel Roch', and writes mostly for himself. He has had a somewhat patchwork-life, living in Ireland, New York, and Brighton, and been in all kinds of jobs, from general-labouring to the creation of theatrical-sets and sculpture. He currently lives in East London, helping look after his elderly parents and working as a freelance Art-Handler/Gallery Technician. He commutes between these stints to Central Portugal, where he helps his partner set up her small holding/farm.

Highly commended : Louise Cato

Small Bones

Louise finally started writing in 2018. She comes from Buckinghamshire but now divides her time between Somerset and Bristol where she works for a democracy company making online tools to bring citizens closer to decisions which affect them. Small Bones is her first published story.

Judge, Naomi Wood

1st Prize : Sandra Jensen

Seagull Pie

I’ve always considered the Bridport Prize one of the most prestigious prizes for emerging writers. I won highly commended in 2012 and flew over from Ireland to be there and I know people have flown longer distances to receive their award, which shows how highly it’s thought of. There’s something special about it. I considered myself a winner the minute I was long listed then again when I was shortlisted. When I heard I'd won it was such a fantastic feeling.

Runner up : Sarah Reynolds

The Haven

Sarah is originally from Surrey and has lived in Wales for ten years. She learnt Welsh fluently and has written two novellas for Welsh learners: Dysgu Byw and Cyffesion Saesnes yng Nghymru. Her short stories and articles have been featured in publications including Wales Arts Review, O’r Pedwar Gwynt and New Welsh Review. In 2014 Sarah won the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize; the story was later adapted into a BAFTA Cymru-winning short film: Helfa’r Heli (Catch of the Day). Sarah recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth.

1st Prize : Maria Donovan


Maria grew up in Bridport before moving to the Netherlands, where she trained as a nurse. She travelled around Europe as a musician and performer, studied English at the University of Glamorgan, and worked as a teacher there, becoming a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing. She now lives back home in Bridport and is writing full time: mainly flash fiction, short stories and her second novel.