D W Wilson has brought home the £10,000 Manchester Fiction Prize while poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás have together won the £10,000 Manchester Poetry Prize at £5,000 apiece.
The winners of this year’s Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes, originally launched by poet Carol Ann Duffy, were revealed at a gala ceremony in the medieval Baronial Hall at Chetham's Library in Manchester city centre.
Wilson won with his short story "All This Concrete Beneath Your Feet", about a man and his young son on a drive down the Alaskan Highway, feauring motels, diners and mounties, as judged by Nicholas Royle, Janice Galloway and Juliet Pickering.
Fiction prize judge Juliette Pickering called it "a story I just couldn't forget", adding: "It was extraordinary and deep with emotion without over labouring the point. Being shortlisted for the award provides real validation to their writing and hopefully it will encourage them to continue writing."
Wilson added: "I'd like to thank the judges, The Manchester Writing School, all the overworked readers, and, of course, everyone who loves the short story form. Writing is a solitary act, and rarely can writers know if what we're doing is worthwhile, so prizes like these are especially important. They give validation, they give reassurance: yes, they say, you're doing something right. Keep going."
Poets Dante Di Stefano and Rebecca Tamás each won £5,000 with the award split because, according to Poetry judges Helen Mort, Adam O'Riordan, Sarah Howe, "both authors were very strong and had completely different voices".
Mort added: "We had such a high standard this year and some very varied submissions. The judges had a difficult time deciding the shortlist and the winners and we spent a lot of time discussing he shortlist and reading the poems out loud. I really admired the two writers and their different styles so we decided to share the prize to recognise both of their achievements."
Di Stefano submitted three poems: "Verrückt"; "Reading Dostoyevsky at Seventeen"; and "Reading Rilke in Early Autumn". He said: "I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dame Carol Ann Duffy and to the faculty and staff of The Manchester Writing School for initiating and maintaining a literary award series such as this one... Thanks (also) to my fellow shortlisted poets for the excellent poetry they put into conversation with my own: Eric Berlin, Sakinah Hofler, Rebecca Tamás, Ruth Tang, and Eoghan Walls. I extend to you, all, my brotherhood and best wishes from across the Atlantic in the hard-fought duende and earned communion of poetry."
Tamás submitted five poems: "Julian of Norwich"; "Theresa of Ãvila"; "Hildegard of Bingen"; "Simone Weil"; and "Marguerite Porete".
She said: "The win will allow me extra time to do what I love most and write, which is something that brings me joy. I am overwhelmed and I want to thank Manchester Metropolitan University for the opportunity, which I'm so lucky to have."