The annual announcement of the UK’s biggest literary awards for unpublished writing takes place in the atmospheric Baronial Hall of the medieval Chetham’s Library, when not one but two lots of £10,000 will be bestowed upon the lucky winners of the Manchester Poetry Prize, for best portfolio of poems, plus the Manchester Fiction Prize, for best short story. (Shortlist announced 24 November here.)
Since it was established almost ten years ago, in 2008 – by the head of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy – the Manchester Writing Competition has awarded more than £135,000 to writers from around the world. In past years, home-grown talent has made it as far as the gala; other times, household names, such as Toby Litt for fiction and Pascale Petit (one of this year’s judges) for poetry.
The evening – which wouldn’t be the same without hosts James Draper and Matthew Frost, so thankfully they got the memo – will kick off with a drinks reception followed by short readings from each of the finalists. Next up, the chairs of the judging panel will offer their thoughts on this year’s submissions – this task falls to predominantly poetic Adam O’Riordan and short story writer and novelist Nicholas Royle (who can be caught reading his own work at this month’s Verbose, on Monday 27 November at Fallow and who wrote about the shiny new UNESCO City of Literature title in The Guardian here). Then it’s the big moment, when the metallic envelopes appear and the winners are announced, in the presence of judges Mona Arshi, Bonnie Greer, Angela Readman and Pascale.