Four poetry collections have made the shortlist for the fiction category of the Portico Prize for Literature in a "surprise outcome."
The prize is biennially awarded to the highest quality books set wholly or mainly in the North of England.
Poetry collections Rebecca Gosshas' Her Birth (Northen House), Michael Symmons Roberts' Drysalter (Cape), Katrina Porteous' Two Countries (Bloodaxe) and Toby Martinez de las Rivas' Terror (Faber) have been shortlisted in the fiction category. This is a "first for the Prize, and a welcome fillip for the Portico’s newly introduced programme of poetry related events", the organisers have said.
Gosshas' Her Birth is a "moving" collection of poems about the short life and death of her daughter Ella. Martinez de las Rivas' Terror consists of poems set against landscapes of the North East. Porteous' Two Countries is about landscape, community, and the shifting, provisional relations between them. Symmons Roberts' Drysalter completes the poetry line up. The fiction shortlist also includes Alan Garner’s "hauntingly provoking" novel Boneland (4th Estate), and Benjamin Myers’ Beastings (Bluemoose), a novel which "disturbs and hypnotises at the same time".
The non-fiction category features The Last Act of Love (Picador) by Cathy Rentzenbrink, who is associate editor at The Bookseller, Jenny Uglow's The Pinecone (Faber), Richard Benson’s The Valley (Bloomsbury), James Rebanks’ A Shepherd’s Life (Allen Lane) and Common Ground (Hutchinson) by Rob Cowen.
The shortlist was drawn up by a panel of judges that includes historian Professor Michael Wood; singer, writer and broadcaster, CP Lee; and journalist Neil Sowerby making up the panel for the non-fiction category. Poet and priest, Rachel Mann, award winning novelist Joe Stretch, and former Portico Prize Winner and director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Professor Andrew Biswell completed the line-up of judges for the fiction/poetry category.
Established by the Portico Library, Manchester, the Prize is biennially awarded to the highest quality books set wholly or mainly in the North of England and is supported by the Arts Council England and The Zochonis Charitable Trust. Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Portico Prize offers £10,000 each for the winners of the fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel on 26th November and will be hosted by Val McDermid.