A national writing competition that gives Â£ 10,000 to under-represented writers awarded top prizes to two women of Asian descent.
Shazia Altaf and Rhiya Pau received the highest accolades at the Creative Future Writers’ Award 2021.
Altaf received the platinum prize for prose while Pau received it for poetry.
They are among 12 awardees who have collectively been inspired by topics such as queer love, homelessness, mental health, dementia, migration, strong family ties and complex personal stories.
The award celebrates the prose and poetry of underrepresented writers who traditionally miss opportunities due to issues of mental health, disability, identity, health or social circumstances.
The judges praised Altaf and Pau for their exploration of heritage, migration, family love and the gap in prospects between different generations of women.
Altaf, a former librarian and teacher from Middlesbrough, won the prose award for Essential Thread, a story about a sister visiting her brother in a mental hospital.
Pau, 28, based in London, won the award for best poem for How much is enough ?, which explores immigration and exposes the desperate desire for a once-lived life that can never be fully captured again.
Winners receive Â£ 10,000, along with writing development prizes provided by leading publishers, authors and development agencies, as well as additional training and support long after the award.
The Creative Future team said they had received over 1,200 entries from unpublished writers across the UK and that the quality was “exceptionally high”.
They also found a 10% increase in the number of entries by unpublished writers of black, Asian and minority descent.
The team added, âWe are delighted to have discovered so many emerging and talented writers in our pool of 12 award winners.
âWe are delighted to continue working with them to develop their writing careers through the unique range of development opportunities that Creative Future is able to offer. “
Dorothy Koomson, 2021 Creative Future Writers ‘Award Chief Judge and best-selling novelist, said: âJudging the Creative Future Writers’ Award this year has been a real pleasure and incredibly difficult at the same time.
âEveryone on the long list and on the short list could have won, and it was such an honor to be able to read these writers early in their careers.
âI loved the winning pieces and each of them is a worthy winner. I am so happy for them.
Discussing Altaf’s work, Koomson added, âEssential Thread was smart and heart-wrenching, warm and well-written.
âThe story belied the experience of its author. I enjoyed it every time I read it.
The winners for poetry:
Platinum – How Much is It Enough? by Rhiya Pau
Gold – MY NAME IS DYKE NOT JUST BECAUSE I AM, BUT SO YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE by Aischa Daughtery
Argent – Falling Short by Jess Murrain
Bronze – chomp chomp chomp by Anna Himali Howard
Highly Recommended – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs According to a 16-Year-Old Lying on a Single Bed Looking at the Ceiling in a Homeless Hostel by Jem Henderson
Recommended – How Can I by Steve Roberts
The winners for the prose:
Platinum – Essential wire by Shazia Altaf
Gold -Bright by Amelia Zhou
Silver – Mr Kohli rugs by Ulka Karandikar
Bronze – Tide by Nanci Gilliver
Highly Recommended – No One Can Save Anyone by Farah Ahamed
Recommended – As A Rule by LumiÃ¨re Chieh
The awards ceremony will take place at the Southbank Center in London as part of the London Literature Festival on October 27.