You can’t win it if you aren’t in it – poets around the world have been urged to enter the Wigtown Poetry Prizes by one of 2023’s highly-praised winners.
Edinburgh-based Stephanie Green was overwhelmed when she was awarded the Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize and was also shortlisted for the £1,500 Wigtown International Prize.
She said: “I had always wanted to win one of the Wigtown Poetry Prizes – they are among the most prestigious in the UK and I have been entering my work ever since I came to live in Scotland.
“I really would encourage people to enter. After all, you can’t win it if you aren’t in it. Competitions are wonderful for your poetry. They force you to edit your work to within an inch of its life, make it the very best it can be. So, whether you win or not, it’s very good for your work. I wasn’t sure I wanted to let loose my sea-monster poems on the world, they are so dark but these were what came out when I dug deep. It’s important to be true to one self.
“And poetry is about communication. You should get your work out there.”
Stephanie, an accomplished poet and writer, originally from London, lived in Wales for 13 years then moved to Scotland in 2000. She began writing poetry in her 20s and it became a serious pursuit when she was in her 40s.
Her Wigtown winner was a collection entitled Ortelius’ Sea Monsters, which came about after a trip to Iceland where she saw the remarkable late 16th-century map of the country by Abraham Ortelius – its seas filled with huge, bizarre and ferocious creatures. These became the basis of a collection that explores a multitude of nightmares and fears, delving deep into some of the darkest corners of human experience.
The Wigtown Poetry Prizes date back to 2005 and are Scotland’s international poetry awards. They celebrate the country’s three indigenous languages – English, Gaelic and Scots.
Entries for the 2024 are open from now until 6 May.
Nicholas Walker, Wigtown Poetry Prize Group Chair, said: “The Wigtown Poetry Prizes are as much about nurturing poetry as about rewarding excellence.
“They are also here to provide a showcase for poetry in the three languages that are so much at the heart of Scottish history, culture and creativity.
“Each year we get hundreds of entries from Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and from every part of the world – including North and South America, Australia, China and Japan.
“This underlines how prestigious the prizes have become and the immense enthusiasm that exists for awards that encourage creative expression in all our indigenous languages.”
Each year the awards are given at a special event during the Wigtown Book Festival, which takes place from 27 September to 6 October in Scotland’s National Book Town.
The Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize was named in memory of one of Scotland’s foremost literary talents.
The 2023 judge was Donald S Murray, who said: “Ortelius’ Sea-Monsters is outstanding in terms of its source of inspiration and the varied ways in which the writer examines the fantastical beings to which the reader is introduced within its pages.
“I relished each encounter, fascinated by the different ways in which each creature is described. This is a work which is a triumph both for the writer’s imagination and their wide and surprising range of poetic skills.”
The 2024 awards
Wigtown International Prize
- Winner: £1,500
- Runner-up: £200Wigtown Scots Prize
- Winner: £500
- Runner-up: £200Supported by Saltire Society
Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize
- Winner: £500
- Runner-up: £200Supported by The Gaelic Books Council
Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award
Professional support including mentoring by Wigtown Festival Company and a retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.
Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize
- Winner: Thirty copies of a pamphlet of the work, set by Gerry Cambridge.Plus – a winner of one or more categories will be selected at the discretion of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and Wigtown Festival Company to read their work at the StAnza.
Full details at www.wigtownpoetryprize.com