Please click on the links below to read all of the winning entries:-
Author: Elisabeth Flett
Title: What I Did On My Summer Holidays
Commendation for Fiction
Author: Jenna Fults
Title: The Weight of Our World
Author: Enxhi Mandija
Title: ‘Time and Tide’
Commendation for Non-fiction
Author: Edward Ashworth
Title: ‘Lockdown in Old Aberdeen’
Author: Jane Morris
Title: ‘Nine Tails’
Author: Ashleigh Angus
Title: ‘Unknown, Unknown, death c.1629’
Commendation for Fiction
Author: Ines Dominique Kirschner
Author: Caitlin Millar
Title: ‘Earth Under Foot
Commendation for Non-fiction
Author: Darryl Peers
Title: ‘Mither Tap’
Commendation for Fiction
Author: Lily Greenlaw
Title: ‘Faerie Pools’
Literary Lights 2021 (Content by Emma Miller)
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 www.grassicgibbon.com.
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.
Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing 2020
This year the fourth annual Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing, sponsored by the Grassic Gibbon Centre and held in conjunction with the University of Aberdeen, attracted an increased volume of entries employing richly varied literary forms, encompassing non-fiction and fiction and deploying a huge range of settings of time and place. Addressing the brief to consider creatively inspirational aspects of Scotland (one of Grassic Gibbon’s key refrains), the judges were impressed by the breadth of subject matter that the topic promoted, embracing contemporary social realism, myth, dystopian fantasy, polemic and personal
memoir and delving into myriad facets of Scotland’s past, present and, indeed, future.
From a short leet of four outstanding pieces, finally the judges are proud to announce that the pre-eminent work, and the recipient of this year’s award, is the beautifully economical story ‘Time and Tide’ by Enxhi Mandija which, very much like Grassic Gibbon himself, uses spontaneously localised observation to reach out at universally relevant themes. The judges commended the writer’s delicate exploration of the artistic sensibility, subtly drawing on the biography of Catterline artist Joan Eardley, which opens up a window to the diversity of
Scottish life – land and sea, country and city, people and place, young and old, tradition and innovation.
Dr William Malcolm, Literary Director of the Grassic Gibbon Centre and chair of the judging panel, has the highest praise for Enxhi’s achievement, observing: ‘Astonishingly for such a beautiful stylist, Enxhi is not a native English speaker, coming from an Albanian and Italian background, but her prizewinning piece draws freely upon the joint honours degree course that she’s currently undertaking at the University of Aberdeen, in English and History of Art. It’s less surprising to learn that Enxhi has won national accolades
for previous fiction writing in Italy. Our 2020 prizewinner’s passion for exploring the creative potentialities of language and her declared interest in developing fiction and poetry set in the Northeast dealing with themes of community and alienation and with issues concerning ethnic communities, migration and femininity gives the Grassic Gibbon Centre
tremendous pride that we’ve found a worthy winner of this year’s Literary Lights Prize, and a writer who clearly has the potential to go on to great heights.’
The judges also wish to make formal commendation for ‘Lockdown in Old Aberdeen’ by Edward Ashworth, a vivid personal memoir of student life invested with nationwide urgency by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Teddy, as he is familiarly known, who hails from
Perth, has just completed a degree in Anthropology and International Relations at the university and has an enduring interest in creative writing. The judges trust that his well-deserved Commendation will encourage him to realise his creative ambition to progress to produce a fully developed novel.
Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing 2019
The Grassic Gibbon Centre is delighted to announce that the 2019 award for the third annual Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing, held in conjunction with the University of Aberdeen, has been given to Jane Morris, for her story ‘Nine Tails’.
This year’s competition, open to all matriculated students of the university, invited submissions of prose fiction or creative non-fiction that take inspiration from the theme of inner struggles that lead to self-discovery, or to a deeper understanding of the world – a central feature of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s characterisation of Chris Guthrie in the trilogy A Scots Quair.
From a final short-list of four pieces, the judges were unanimous in their decision that ‘Nine Tails’ should be awarded the prize, as a beautifully crafted piece with a sparing narrative and a genuinely unpredictable – and poignant – twist at the close. The sensitivity with which the emotional complexities of bereavement are uncovered fulfilled the competition’s brief in an enduringly thought-provoking way.
Jane was welcomed to a presentation lunch held at the Grassic Gibbon Centre on Thursday 18 July by Chairman of Directors Jim Brown, Literary Director Dr William Malcolm and Manageress Isabella Williamson, with the University of Aberdeen being represented by Rebecca Buchan of the University Development Trust.
Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing 2018
The Grassic Gibbon Centre Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing 2018, the second competition held in association with the University of Aberdeen, emulated the spectacular success achieved in the first year of the award. While the number of entries was slightly reduced from that of 2017, the range and quality of work submitted was of an equally high standard, inspiring a broad range of responses to the remit to address themes of time and change.
After due deliberation, from a shortlist of four outstanding pieces, the judges declared the overall winner ‘Unknown, Unknown, death c.1629’ by Ashleigh Angus from Australia. This visceral recreation of the institutionalised inhumanity of a witch-burning in Orkney in the seventeenth century with its deft bridge with the present day shocks us out of our contemporary complacencies through its vividly immersive powers of description. The judges also selected for formal commendation ‘Shell’ by Ines Kirschner, a claustrophobic exploration of the fragility of the human psyche and of the search of one individual to escape the lasting impact of a past trauma on her whole being.
The awards ceremony held with an invited audience at the Grassic Gibbon Centre on the afternoon of Saturday 16 June 2018 welcomed special guests from the University of Aberdeen who had been instrumental in establishing and organising the competition, open to all matriculated students at the university: Prof Ali Lumsden, current Chair of English; Dr Wayne Price, Tutor in Creative Writing; and Kelly Anderson of the university Development Trust. Local musician Geordie Murison provided apt renditions of traditional ballads, but the stars of the afternoon undoubtedly were Lily Greenlaw and Darryl Peers, commended for their submissions in 2017, and Ashleigh Angus, winner of the award in 2018, all of whom gave the audience fascinating insight to their writing and read tantalising snatches from their winning entries.
Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing 2017
Lewis Grassic Gibbon was just 23 years old when, as plain James Leslie Mitchell, he won the short story competition that gave him his first break as a writer. The Grassic Gibbon Centre was delighted therefore to set up in his name The Grassic Gibbon Centre Literary Lights Prize for Creative Writing with our ‘local’ University of Aberdeen, with the objective of encouraging aspiring writers to exercise their talents with the written word.
The response was everything we hoped for in the first year of the competition – fittingly, the 25th anniversary of the Centre’s foundation in Gibbon’s home turf of Arbuthnott in the Mearns. From a gloriously kenspeckle range of entries addressing the brief to explore the relationship between people and place – one of Gibbon’s key concerns – the judges eventually settled on a shortlist of three outstanding pieces, any one of which would have been a worthy recipient of the inaugural award.
In an extremely tight, but unanimous, verdict, the judges representing the University of Aberdeen and the Grassic Gibbon Centre finally identified the winner as Caitlin Millar’s beautifully crafted saga of family exile ‘Earth Underfoot’, while formally commending Darryl Peers’s witty and piercing examination of Scottish roots and identity, ‘Mither Tap’ and Lily Greenall’s luminous and subtle tale ‘Faerie Pools’.
This has proved to be one of the most stimulating and rewarding ways of honouring Grassic Gibbon’s legacy here in the Northeast, and the Centre is tremendously excited to be involved in helping to foster the literary lights located in the Northeast.
Literary Lights Winners
2020 Overall Winner
2020 Non-Fiction Commendation
Jim Brown, Jane Morris (Winner), Dr.William Malcolm
Dr.William Malcolm, Literary Director of the Centre, introduces
the evening’s prize winners.
2018 Overall Winner
Jim Brown presents Ashleigh Angus with her trophy.
2017 Non-Fiction Commendation
Jim Brown presents Darryl Peers with his Trophy.
2017 Fiction Commendation
Jim Brown presents Lily Greenlaw with her trophy.
Prize winners, literary experts and local dignatories.