Scotland’s Three Language International Wigtown Poetry Prize Could Be A Classic 

Poets and supporters have praised the annual Wigtown Poetry Prize for its value in nurturing individual poets and supporting literature in Scotland’s three indigenous languages. 

Entries are open until 10 June and organisers hope that this year could prove a classic.

Each year the £1,500 prize, delivered by Wigtown Book Festival, attracts entries from around the world in English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic.

There are also separate Scots and Scottish Gaelic prizes, The Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize and the Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award, for poets living in, or from, the region who have never professionally published a full length collection.

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, said: “In recent years we have seen the Wigtown Poetry Prize gather in momentum and energy. The worldwide interest has marked it out as Scotland’s international poetry prize, attracting an incredible variety of work from a multitude of perspectives and in three languages.
“Our hope is that 2022 will be a classic year for the prize, not least because for the first time there will be the excitement of having the winners unveiled at a special event on the last day of Wigtown Book Festival.”

Each year the prize attracts entries many countries, including from Scots living overseas such as Mark Gallacher who lives in Denmark and was runner-up for the Wigtown Poetry Prize 2021.

He said: “The Wigtown Poetry Prize is international but also feels very Scottish. It has that wonderful life-affirming buzz that the Wigtown Book Festival generates. Winning second prize brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.”
Jane McKie, past pamphlet prize winner, added: “It was an honour and delight to win the Alastair Reid prize. The finished pamphlet – so beautifully designed and printed – was a real treat. The whole experience was one of those rare affirming things that feels a little bit like a windfall: happy, serendipitous, and definitely to be savoured.”

Lynn Valentine’s success helped build her confidence to work in Scots.

She said: “Being runner-up for the Scots Prize was such a boost. Although Scots was the language of my childhood I only felt brave enough to write in it in the past few years. What an honour to be placed in the competition. It’s encouraged me to write more poems and prose in Scots.”

The Wigtown Poetry Prize takes place in association with The Gaelic Books Council, Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre, The Saltire Society, The Scottish Poetry Library and StAnza (Scotland’s International Poetry Festival).

Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council which sponsors the Gaelic prize, said: “This prize has been won both by established Gaelic poets and by others still at an early stage in their careers, and it is wonderful that these poets, and contemporary Gaelic literature itself, are recognised in this prestigious competition.
“The Gaelic Books Council is proud to support the Gaelic poetry prize, and we hope to hear many new interesting voices again this year.”
Chaidh an duais seo a bhuannachadh le bàird Ghàidhlig stèidhichte agus le feadhainn a bha fhathast aig ìre tràth nan dreuchdan, agus tha e a’ cur ri cliù nam bàrd agus ri cliù litreachas na Gàidhlig san latha an-diugh gu bheil duais Ghàidhlig mar phàirt den fharpais chliùiteach seo.  
“Tha Comhairle nan Leabhraichean moiteil a bhith a’ toirt taic don duais seo, agus tha sinn an dòchas gum bi guthan ùra inntinneach rin cluinntinn a-rithist am-bliadhna.” 
Asif Khan, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, added: “Wigtown ranks as one of the UK’s most prestigious open international poetry competitions. The winning writers wear the honour with pride.
“An award also opens doors for invitations to read at other literary festival programmes. The incorporation of Scottish Gaelic and Scots prizes has been welcomed by these language communities for the unique opportunity presented in raising the profiles of new and emerging poets.”
Lucy Burnett, StAnza Festival Director, said: “StAnza has worked in partnership with Wigtown Book Festival now for a number of years, and the annual showcase reading of their prizewinning poets has become a much-valued part of our annual festival.
“While both Wigtown and StAnza are both festivals with international profiles, a crucially important part of this involves providing a platform for Scottish poets and for Scotland’s indigenous languages.”

The judges for 2022 will be Trinidadian Scottish writer of poetry and non-fiction Vahni (Anthony Ezekiel) CapildeoFRSL, Anne C Frater who grew up in Upper Bayble, Isle of Lewis, in a home and a community where Gaelic was the main language and Brian Holton who translates poetry and prose from modern and classical Chinese into English and Scots


2022 Prize details 

Wigtown Prize: £1,500, runner-up: £200. Judge Vahni Capildeo.

Wigtown Scots Prize: £500, runner-up: £200. Judge Brian Holton.

Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize: £500, runner-up: £200. Judge Anne C Frater.

Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award: Professional support including mentoring from Wigtown Festival Company and a retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.
Judging Panel from Wigtown Festival Company Board of Trustees.

Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize: Production of a pamphlet set by Gerry Cambridge

Invitation to Read at StAnza 2023: A winner of one or more categories will be selected at the discretion of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, and Wigtown Festival Company.

Entrants for the Wigtown Scottish Gaelic and Wigtown Scots prizes can also submit their poems to be considered for the Wigtown Prize free-of-charge.

  • Full details on how to enter are on the Poetry Prize website.
  • The Wigtown Poetry Prize is delivered by the Wigtown Book Festival Company.

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