Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of fifteen novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend’s Girl, The Ice Cream Girls, and Goodnight, Beautiful. My Best Friend’s Girl (2016) was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club and went on to sell half a million copies. Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages, sold millions of copies, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was produced in 2013. She has been described as “Britain's biggest selling black author of adult fiction” by The Independent. Dorothy was recently named one of the UK’s most influential Black figures on the Black Powerlist 2021. She has also recently joined the Society of Authors’ board of directors, as well as launching her own Happy Author podcast on her writing life, tips, tricks, and insights.
Joelle Taylor is an award-winning poet, playwright, author, and editor. Joelle has performed in a diverse range of venues internationally and is the author of four plays, four full collections of poetry currently completing her debut collection of short stories. In 2020 she had a year-long tenure as Editor of Out-Spoken Press. Her collection Songs My Enemy Taught Me (Out-Spoken Press) was inspired by fusing her own story of surviving sexual abuse with masterclasses engaging groups of vulnerable women across the UK. Her most recent book is C+nto & Othered Poems (The Westbourne Press 2021), and was the subject of the Radio 4 arts documentary Butch.
As an educator, she has led workshops and residencies in schools, prisons, youth centres, refugee groups, and other settings for organisations including the Poetry Society, the British Council, Arvon Foundation, and English PEN. Joelle has been awarded a Southbank Centre Change Maker prize and a Fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts. A former UK slam champion, she founded the national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors in 2001 for the Poetry Society, and founded and is Artistic Director of Borderlines—an international spoken word project that links10 UK cities with 7 European countries. In 2017 Joelle featured in a BBC documentary We Belong Here, about the role of poetry in post-Brexit Britain alongside Lemn Sissay, Jack Underwood, and Sabrina Mahfouz. She has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes, and a documentary about her life and work, Life Changing Verse was filmed and broadcast in 2010. The National Portrait Gallery has commissioned a portrait of her as part of their 2019 exhibition of Contemporary Poets.
Aki Schilz is the Director of The Literary Consultancy, the UK’s longest-running editorial consultancy. She is a Trustee of Poetry London, and sits on the advisory board of Penned in the Margins. Aki is a judge for the Bridport First Novel Award and sits on its steering committee. She is also a prize-winning writer of poetry and fiction, and co-founder of the Saboteur Award-shortlisted #LossLit digital literature project. In 2018 Aki was named as one of the FutureBook 40 (a list of the top 40 innovators in UK publishing), and nominated for an h100 Award for her #BookJobTransparency campaign and her work to improve representation and accessibility in the literature sector. She is also the founder of the Rebecca Swift Foundation, in memory of TLC’s founder and her boss and mentor. In 2019 Aki was shortlisted for the Kim Scott-Walwyn Prize.
Sarala Estruch is the MA and Editorial Manager at the Poetry School, the UK's largest provider of poetry education. She is also a writer, poet and critic. Her poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and reviews have appeared in journals and newspapers including The Poetry Review, Wasafiri and The Guardian, and have been featured on BBC Radio 3. Sarala is a former winner of the Poetry School/Nine Arches Press Primers competition and a member of the Ledbury Poetry Critics. Her poetry short ‘The English Dream’ appears in Primers: Volume Three (Nine Arches Press, 2018). @poetryschool @saralaestruch
In 2021 we piloted including shortlist judges, to select 18 pieces from longlists of 36 in each genre. These were past CFWA Writers In Residence Emma McGordon (poetry) and Tara Gould (prose). For 2022 we’ll continue this with two past CFWA winners:
Susan Downer (prose): 2019 Platinum Award winner Susan has worked in public relations and journalism. Her piece in the CFWA anthology was her first published story, and she went on to be shortlisted for the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She writes scripts, short stories, blogs, and poetry, and is a member of the editorial board of Short Fiction Journal. Susan is also working with Creative Future on our 2022 Impart programme and will be delivering workshops alongside novelist Yvonne Battle-Felton in Sheffield.
Romalyn Ante (poetry): 2016 & 2017 winner Romalyn is the co-founding editor of harana poetry, and poetry editor at Ambit magazine. Her debut collection is Antiemetic for Homesickness (Chatto & Windus). Romalyn is Poetry Ambassadors 2021 mentor. She was appointed Poet-in-Residence at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust / Hosking Houses Trust in 2019. She is the first East-Asian to win the Poetry London Prize (2018) judged by Kwame Dawes. She is also the first East-Asian to win the Manchester Poetry Prize (2017). Her debut pamphlet, Rice & Rain (V Press), received the 2018 Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet.
She has been commissioned by several organisations such as Birmingham Literature Festival, Southbank Center, Book Week Scotland, and Verve Poetry Festival, and ran a number of poetry workshops including those for The Poetry School, Royal College of Nursing, UniSlam, and Writing West Midlands. Romalyn was awarded a 2021 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.