The Creative Future Literary Awards – the UK’s only national competition for all under-represented writers – announced its twelve ‘outstanding’ winners at Birmingham Central Library in October 2017.
Six poems and six short stories were chosen from a shortlist by a judging panel of industry professionals, to receive a share of £1000 cash and development prizes from leading literature organisations including The Literary Consultancy, Penguin Random House Writers’ Academy and The Poetry School.
Winners also appear in an anthology produced by Just Content and Kingston University Press, alongside work by international best-selling author, Kit de Waal, and poet/playwright, Sabrina Mahfouz.
Below are the ‘Gold’ winning pieces from Helen Seymour and Emma Robdale and a short film of the Showcase Event at Birmingham Library hosted by Kit de Waal.
Crack – by Helen Seymour
He got drenched in blue staccato
at four in the morning.
Bit on the mouth piece and sucked,
chucked up beige in the back of the sick bus,
ambulance yellow and green paramedics –
it’s all nausea to me.
Surgery was white dust and blood,
he was all they talked about over taps and the nail brush:
a man had tried to plaster cast his heart
and by the looks of what they pulled out
it only half-worked.
“He’ll be disappointed”
One of them said.
Six hours later his bed was empty.
He was found wandering ‘round the fracture clinic,
falling in love with broken people,
because it was now nostalgia to him.
Pumped up with morphine and back into bed,
by nightfall they found him making chains with his intestines.
The sheets were blood and brown and black,
the moon was a cut
and his stitches were nothing near upward.
Next to each other by the sinks again,
turned the tap down to make sure he was heard:
“Told you he’d be gutted.”
The other one laughed and had to wash her hands again,
because of the spit.
Helen Seymour is currently touring her first solo show, To Helen Back. She likes pretending to be a bear and is also a bit obsessed with death, but in quite a charming way. Is she wasn’t a spoken word human performance person, she thinks she’d be a pharmacist from the past.
Snail Abortion – by Emma Robdale
You carefully dug a little hole using your singular muscular foot, then dropped a hundred individual hard shelled eggs into it. You sat upon them for hours. Each rounded egg that dropped containing tiny snail embryos. Using all of your strength, you brushed the soil back over them with your outstretched neck.
I am sorry to say that you were seen.
In the dark of night, when you were curled up within your shell, I removed the glass lid to your tank. My fingers tore open the soil until your eggs were uncovered. Using a tea spoon from the kitchen I carefully loaded them into a small plastic sandwich container. You poked a stalked eye out from under the rim of your mottled shell. Fully extending your antenna, you watched me scoop the last of your eggs.
I took the blue lid of the sandwich container and pressed down each of its corners. I slipped it into my dressing gown pocket and slunk down the stairs to the kitchen.
The moon gleamed off the blue tiled floor; Bare foot, my toes began to numb. I halted in front of the freezer; its huge white door towering over me. I stood listening to its hum before reaching towards the handle.
I felt an icy embrace. The hairs stood on my arms and I pulled my dressing gown further round me.
I knelt to the bottom draw, using both hands wrenched it open. It screeched and little ice crystals glided to the floor. This draw was reserved for ice-cube trays, but, in the back left corner, there was always a small, sandwich-box-sized space.
Emma Robdale just graduated from an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Brighton. From a young age she has been fascinated with bug life and in 2014 won My Student Style international literacy competition with a story about a flea. Next year she hopes to perform her one woman show ‘In-Sex’, which comically details the intimate lives of insects, at Brighton Fringe.
Creative Future are currently looking for a writer for a six month paid residency at Preston Park Recovery Centre in Brighton.