Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Grist Awards and Stewart Interview - Huddersfield Student - April 09 Edition


Grist Awards Ceremony and Michael Stewart Interview:

Not many I’m sure would associate chilled wine, bowls of crisps, glitzy gowns and smart suits with the complex world of literature but this is what occurs when the winners of poetry and short fiction is announced. Those three winners will be published alongside other fresh writing talent as well as famous authors and poets to create the eagerly anticipated Grist Anthology.

This award ceremony also coincided as the Huddersfield Festival Launch party so even more enthusiasts of writing of all sorts turned up looking their best to participate for their love of the written and spoken word. Other famous poets and authors attended the event as well such as Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and her latest book The Lollipop Shoes, who was also the short fiction judge and will announce the winners in that section. Local poets of this University Gaia Holmes and David Gill were all there socialising. Gaia was selling and signing copies of her first debut poetry collection Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed which received very good reviews. I myself was taught by Gaia during my first year in my poetry seminars and she rather pleasingly remembered me from that time, so long ago now. Michael Stewart, the genius behind the Grist Anthology, my own creative writing tutor and a key figure behind some of the Literature Festival events was of course surrounded by keen writers and acquaintances.

The winners of the Grist short fiction awards are:

1. Indigo Runaway - Jess Richards (absent at the event sadly)
2. Martin in a Hole - Brindley Hallam Dennis
3. Stinky - Ben Cheetham

Grist poetry awards:

The winner is Jonathan Asser for his poem The Birdbath's Saying Dive (sadly absent from the event)
In second place is: Hilary J Murray for her poem Fishing Trip
In third place is Gareth Durasow for his Poem for the Love Lane Crow


Not long after the event had past I managed corner and ask Michael a few questions about Grist, how it came about and how much of a success it has been so far.

How many entries did you receive for the Grist competition?

‘Over 3000’

Did you receive more than you thought you would?

Yes

How many short stories and poems will be published in the Anthology?

‘16 short stories and 20 poems plus work from established writers.’

When will the Anthology be published, where can you buy it and how much will it be?

‘Not sure yet.’

Was it difficult to create the short list for Joanne Harris and Simon Armitage to select the winners from?

‘Very hard work.’

Were there many you wished to put through to the short list but were outshine by brighter talent?

‘Oh yes.’

Which other established authors and poets have you got to contribute to the Anthology or is it based on all the successful entrants?

‘So far Ian McMillan, John Boyne, Simon Armitage... Waiting responses from a lot of people at the moment but I'm not telling you who!’

Are you pleased with the final out come of the competition? Are you as proud of it as if it was your own work published?

‘Yes, I'm delighted, although it's not really comparable with having your own work published. When it is your own work there is always a sense of trepidation - you are, on some level, exposing yourself. Not so much with the work of others’.

Will you be running it again next year and any hints for when it's open again?

‘To be confirmed soon’.

It was a real boost of awareness to the Anthology to have Joanne Harris and Simon Armitage support it by being judges, are they interested in being judges next year if you run it again? Or will you have a new pair of judges?

‘To be confirmed soon.’

How would you best describe the book to entice people to read it?

‘It is simply, the best new writing.’

So there you have it folks, ‘simple the best new writing’ so do keep your eyes peeled in any Waterstones or Borders bookshop this summer as it may just be released in a town near you! Buy a copy, get a flavour of the brightest talented authors and poets selected and perhaps even you may be inspired to enter next years Grist Anthology competition. The latest showcase of writing talent developed here from our own beloved University and the genius that is Michael Stewart.

Learn more about when the next competition is open at www.hud.ac.uk/grist.

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