Literary Lights 2021

The Grassic Gibbon Centre Literary Lights Prize 2021: Judges’ Adjudication


This year the fifth annual Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing, sponsored by the Grassic Gibbon Centre and held in conjunction with the University of Aberdeen, attracted a record volume of entries employing richly varied literary forms, encompassing non-fiction and fiction and deploying a vast range of settings of time and place, from past, present and future. Addressing the brief, tied in with the extraordinary concerns that we’re currently facing, to consider themes drawing their inspiration from some aspect or aspects of hope, endurance and fellowship, above all else the judges were reassured by the overwhelming sense of optimism and positivity engendered by the responses.

Finally the judges are proud to announce that the outstanding work, and the recipient of this year’s award, is the beautifully measured travelogue of a visit to Peru by Elisabeth Flett, ‘What I Did On My Summer Holidays’ marrying vivid observation and acute insight, and ultimately providing a heartening tribute to human kindness.

The judges also wish to make formal commendation for ‘The Weight of Our World’ by Jenna Fults, a lovingly crafted short story tracing the emblematic hope embodied by a family’s intimate recovery from bereavement set within the grand geological context of macrocosmic change. The sophistry and emotional power of Jenna’s piece are full testament to the emergence of a singular creative talent.

The prizewinning scripts from the Literary Lights competition, including those from 2021, are available now to download from the Grassic Gibbon Centre’s website, at 

Dr William K Malcolm

Literary Director, The Grassic Gibbon Centre


Dr William Malcolm, Literary Director of the Grassic Gibbon Centre and chair of the judging panel, has the highest praise for Elisabeth’s achievement, observing:

‘Elisabeth’s memoir has a compelling narrative voice that is sophisticated but amusing, humorous and thoughtful, ironic and optimistic. The conversational style is deceptively simple, while her bittersweet tone alternates smoothly between wry self-mockery and incisive pragmatism. The affirmative vision of human goodness is a tonic for this, or indeed any other time. The judges are confident that Elisabeth has the talent to go on to achieve great things as a writer.’

Winner: Elisabeth Flett

‘What I Did On My Summer Holidays’

Elisabeth Flett is an award-winning musician, theatre maker and writer who is currently studying on the Elphinstone Institute MLitt course in Scottish Ethnology and Folklore. Winner of the 2017 Rose Lawrence academic award during her time studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Elisabeth has enjoyed writing in both an academic and creative capacity for many years. She is the creator of three successful solo folk theatre shows, including ROOTS (Edinburgh Fringe 2019), several of her comedic personal essays have been published on feminist art website ‘WHY Magazine’, and her poetry has been published in 2015’s ’10 of the Best: A Showcase of Poetry’ by United Press Ltd. and most recently in 2021’s Hysteria’s LGBTQ History Month zine, ‘Unsung’.


Commended Fiction: Jenna Fults

‘The Weight of Our World’

A lifelong bibliophile and writer from Colorado, Jenna has just graduated with an English and Creative Writing degree. She has a penchant for reading more books at a time than she can keep up with and this past year, she held the role of President of the Creative Writing Society at the University of Aberdeen. Post-graduation, she looks forward to pursuing a career in the publishing industry and hopes to continue her passion for putting words down on a page by writing a novel (or two!). Her other hobbies include playing the cello and learning languages.


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