LORELEI GOULDING, from Shepton Mallet in Somerset, is the winner of Spread the Word’s national writing competition, the Life Writing Prize 2020, for Birdie.
Judges described Birdie, as a heart-breaking story of a young vulnerable girl and it was selected from almost 900 submissions received from across the UK.
Joanna Brown’s Birds can be heard singing through open windows is a timely, delicate and emotive reminder of the lives of those who care for us
Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word
Goulding will receive £1500, an Arvon course, a writing mentor, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature and a development meeting with an agent and editor.
Coming in a close joint second place was Joanna Brown for Birds can be heard singing through open windows and Laurane Marchive, for For the Flesh is Sour.
Brown wrote about her mother who came to London from Sierra Leone in the 1960s. The teacher tells her story of their relationship before and after her death, exploring how memory connects us to those lost. This timely piece also pays tribute to the NHS.
Both Brown and Marchive will receive a writing mentor and £500.
The judges were writers Kerry Hudson and Nell Stevens, and Sathnam Sanghera, an award-winning columnist and feature writer for The Times. They made their selection from a longlist of twelve, announced last month.
Hudson said: “Birdie was a unanimous winner for everyone on the judging panel and rightly so.
“Imagine an emerging writer coming up with descriptions like, ‘Diseased with emphysema and malice’ or ‘My father’s left hand, slapping my face without warning at dinner, like a frog’s tongue snapping at a fly.’ Birdie is extremely confidently written and there are genuinely heart stopping moments of beauty in the prose.”
Upon hearing the announcement Brown enthused: “It is such an honour to have been highly commended for the Life Writing Prize.
“I am feeling simultaneously humbled and proud. The news has come at a time of deep reflection for many on the loss of loved ones.
“Writing about my mother was such a significant step on my writing journey and sharing my memories of her has been a unique and powerful experience.
“I am so excited about the opportunities that this now presents for me: many thanks to the team and judges at Spread the Word.”
Complimenting Brown on her achievement Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word said: “Joanna Brown’s Birds can be heard singing through open windows is a timely, delicate and emotive reminder of the lives of those who care for us.”