The Bookseller – News – Ross and Ramm win £10k prizes in Manchester Writing Competition

Leone Ross and Peter Ramm have won the Manchester Writing Competition for unpublished work, taking away £10,000 each in prize money.

The awards, designed by former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy in 2008 to encourage new work, were presented at a ceremony in Manchester Metropolitan University’s new home for arts and humanities, Grosvenor East.

Ross picked up the Fiction Prize for her short story “When We Went Gallivanting”, which was praised by judges for taking “the biggest risks” and which “seared the most startling images in our minds”.

Her work has previously been nominated for the Edge Hill, Jhalak, OCM Bocas and Goldsmiths awards and her most recent novel This One Sky Day (Faber) was longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

She said: “I have such affection and respect for the Manchester Prize – one of few in the UK that celebrates the short story so very generously. Whether subversive, experimental or just thumpingly good old-fashioned story-telling, the Fiction Prize reminds us that the short story is a fluid space for amusement, beauty and politics alike.

“’When We Went Gallivanting’ is about the increasing gap between rich and poor, about dancing in the face of injustice, and it imagines a claim of joy in the very architecture around us. The story celebrates everyday miracles, not least its lead character, Athena Righteous-Fury, a fat, Black woman, surviving and thriving and inspiring just as she is.”

Chair of judges for fiction, writer Nicholas Royle, said: “It was almost impossible to pick a winner from the fiction shortlist because it would mean certain other stories could not then win. It was extremely tight and we were comparing stories that had nothing in common apart from the quality that made picking a winner so hard. But in the end we went for the one that took the biggest risks and found the most startling images in our minds.”

Ramm took home the Poetry Prize for his collection Landfallpraised by judges for “luxuriating in the musicality of the language” and for the “richness and beauty portrayed”.

In 2021 I have placed third in The Rialto’s Nature and Place Competition and was awarded residencies at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens and WestWord’s Daffodil Cottage. His debut poetry collection water lines is forthcoming in 2022 with Vagabond Press.

He said: “It is with immense gratitude, thanks and a lot of surprise that I accept this prize. I feel deeply honored just to be counted alongside the amazing poets on this year’s shortlist and a great sense of debt to the esteemed judges Romalyn Ante, Malika Booker and Zaffar Kunial, who spent so many hours poring over the entries and who saw something in my work. My many thanks to Carol Ann Duffy and Manchester Metropolitan University for pioneering and persevering with this prize. We are all here tonight as a result of what was begun all those years ago.

“Writing, and poetry in particular, is not an easy road to tread. There are many rejections, little acclaim and almost no income, but we are a stubborn bunch of poets, who seek to not only observe our own lives, but also to honor language, and let it unlock so much more than an ordinary existence. It is truly wonderful to have traveled from the other side of the world to be in this room tonight, to celebrate words that have been forged in all corners of the globe, on many roads and through many lives.”

Chair of judges Malika Booker said: “In Landfall we were delighted with the sublime poetics, where the poet’s language cartwheels with lyrical dexterity. Each poem in this submitted portfolio pulsated and bewitched us judges into reciting lines to each other, while luxuriating in the musicality of the language, and the richness and beauty portrayed. Ordinary domestic scenes between a family walking or driving were explored against a boisterous natural backdrop, where nature pulses with panoramic vitality. These filmic poems portray the love and specialness of a place reminiscent of writing by the poet John Burnside.

“We were impressed with the poet’s ambitiousness and confidence, and seduced by the opening lines. Our winning poet’s masterly controlled line breaks contrast sharply with the majestic woodland portrayed. We felt that this was contemporary poetry at its best.”

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