Announcing the Creative Future Writers’ Award 2023 winners

20 September 2023

The Creative Future Writers’ Award 2023 received over 1,300 entries from underrepresented writers across the country. We sincerely thank every one of you for giving us a chance to read your work. We’re pleased to announce those selected:

Creative Non-Fiction

  • Platinum:  Siam Hatzaw, “Homecoming”
  • Gold:  Bethany Handley, “The National Trust’s Bomb Disposal Squad”
  • Silver: C. Castle, “Finding the Words”
  • Bronze: Jay Mitra, “I liked the way the world looked at me when I was in the closet”

Shortlist: John Adams, Grayson Campbell, Rebecca Chesworth, Sarah Forbes, Theo Malings, Laura McDonagh, Mona Rae, Jack Roe


  • Platinum: Charlie Rose Evans, “Mice”
  • Gold: Rayna Haralambieva, “Three Kinds of Tears”
  • Silver: Jay Jellicoe, “Bread and Demons”
  • Bronze: Samreen Faria, “Sand Swimming”

Shortlist: Sena A, Sherin Bhasker, Donna Hughes-Taylor, Matthew Martin, Porb Nade, Emer Ni Eadhra, Asis Patel, Mel Reeve


  • Platinum: Vera Zakharov, “Mudlark of the Ouse”
  • Gold: Rachael Li Ming Chong, “You Call it Your Secret Garden”
  • Silver: Charlotte Murray, “Cross Stitch House”
  • Bronze: Renée Eshel, “Johnny Peter”

Shortlist: Caroline Am Bergris, Mandy Beattie, Sarah Drury, Rachel Oyawale, Ellie Scott, Alison Tanik, Mitelia Tribbitt, Tracey Weller


We look forward to working with this year’s winners and furthering their careers, thanks to the generosity of our prizegivers, who contributed £20,000 in courses, development and support. Our sincere thanks also to the judging panel: poet Wayne Holloway-Smith, poet/essayist Nina Mingya Powles, Jennifer Kerslake (Curtis Brown Creative), Joey Connolly (Faber Academy), Maryam Hessavi (Poetry School) and Aki Schilz (The Literary Consultancy).

I like bands’ initial albums, and I like artists at the start of their careers. I like seeing footballers stepping into the first team for the first time, and I like watching debut directors at the movies. It’s invigorating to me to see raw talent finding its way, in this way—that often initial burst of ambition, and excitement—the kernel of a voice emerging, the level of risk practitioners are free to take at this stage. No wonder the process of judging CFWA was such a source of joy—the originality and imagination, the vocabulary of these newcomers, crikey!

—Wayne Holloway-Smith, Award judge

Judging the Creative Future Writers’ Award this year was an invigorating and challenging process. The shortlist of many innovative writers offered a glimpse of some of the most exciting writing being produced in the UK today. In the poetry and fiction categories, writers boldly pushed boundaries of genre and form. In creative nonfiction, a category new to the prize this year, there was an incredible range of stories and voices covering subjects I’d not encountered before. I was drawn all the way in and longed to keep reading. It’s been a joy and an honour to be involved in this prize that is helping to reshape our literary landscape.

—Nina Mingya Powles, Award judge

Read this year’s winning pieces, alongside work by our judges and Writers In Residence, in our anthology: click here to order your copy.

Join us to celebrate the winners as part of the London Literature Festival on Friday 20 October: Book your ticket here. Or you can watch the event online via livestream: Details here.

About the winners

Creative Non-Fiction

C. Castle is a Norfolk based writer and therapist who enjoys writing short stories, memoir, and creative non-fiction. Their work is influenced by therapeutic concepts and process, concerned with subjective experience, emotional depth, and truth.

Bethany Handley is a Welsh Disabled writer, editor and activist. Her work has been published in POETRY, Poetry Wales, The Welsh Agenda and on the Poetry Foundation. She has worked with the BBC, the Institute of Welsh Affairs and other media and third sector organisations, such as Plantlife, to challenge the barriers Disabled people experience. Bethany is representing Wales 2023-24 with Literature Wales. She co-ran Write Back, a writing retreat for Welsh Disabled writers and is editing the first anthology of Welsh Disabled writers.

Siam Hatzaw is a Burmese writer from Glasgow, living in London. Her mediums include poetry, essays and flash fiction predominantly exploring heritage, politics, memory and intimacies. She works in publishing and is a Prose and Poetry Editor for Persephone’s Daughters, a literary journal dedicated to survivors of abuse. She is grateful to be a Jessica Yorke scholar and a Best of the Net nominee. Their work has been published by De Gruyter and gal-dem, among others, and their most recent essay is on the politics of desire, forthcoming in an Oxford University Press collection.

Jay Mitra is a British Indian punk poet, multi slam champion, and freelance journalist from Yorkshire. Their poetry has been published in Acumen Poetry, Drawn To The Light Press, Streetcake Magazine and Broken Sleep Books’ Queer Icons anthology. Jay has been featured on BBC Radio 6, and performed at the BBC’s Contains Strong Language Festival, Leeds Literature Fest, Manchester Pride and Manchester Punk Festival. They are pursuing a career in teaching and are working as a freelance writer and facilitator.


Rachael Li Ming Chong is a writer, teacher and social entrepreneur based in London. In 2022, she received a Let Teachers SHINE Award, and a Literature Matters Award from the Royal Society of Literature. She is a winner of The Poetry Archive’s 2021 WordView Competition and commended in the Verve Poetry Competition 2022. She is a graduate of the HarperCollins Author Academy and a 2023/24 London Library Emerging Writer. Her poetry has been published in Modron, Public Sector Poetry and Where We Find Ourselves (Arachne Press) and her debut pamphlet The Red Strings Between will be published by Verve Poetry Press in 2024.

Renée Eshel is a Welsh writer who graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2022 and is currently studying an MA in Writing at The Royal College of Art. She will undertake a residency at Stiwdio Maelor, in North Wales, where she will be mentored to produce poetry for their upcoming visual exhibition. Her work has been featured in Varsity Newspaper, Tipping The Scales Journal, Oddball Magazine and Cambridge Cult, and ‘Rebirth’, her handmade zine, was exhibited at Queen’s College Art Festival.

Charlotte Murray, from West Yorkshire, is a member of Hive Poetry Collective and works as a University Archivist. She won second place in the E.H.P. Barnard Poetry Prize 2023, in Bangor Literary Journal’s Forty Words Competition 2021 and in the East Riding Festival of Words Poetry Competition 2021. Her poems appear in Lucent Dreaming and the anthologies Mancunian Ways (Fly on the Wall Press) and Dear Life (Hive Young Writers). Her pamphlet was longlisted for the Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award 2023.

Vera Zakharov is a food campaigner and poet, born in Russia, raised in the US, and living in East Sussex with her family. She explores heritage, motherhood and queer ecology through her writing. Her work has been published in Magma, the Madrigal Press, Mum Poem Press, ONCA Eco-Poetry Collective.


Charlie Rose Evans lives in Birmingham and examines the intricacies of familial relationships, adolescence, and childhood through her writer of short stories and poetry.  Her writing has appeared in So Long as You Write (Dear Damsels), The Last Song (Broken Sleep Books), Potluck Zine, Changeling Annual, Digbeth Stories, and Popshot Magazine.

Samreen Faria’s writing began in theatre. She was one of 50 writers to be selected for The Royal Court – BBC 50 celebrations (2006). Her play “I Will Find You” was shortlisted for the Amnesty Ice & Fire Awards (2007) and long listed for the Bruntwood Playwriting Awards (2008) and she made a short film, Red Rabbit Run, with the Hitchcock Film Fund and NFT Festival (2008). After taking a break to raise a family, Samreen started experimenting with writing prose and is currently working on a novel.

Rayna Haralambieva is a Bulgarian writer who writes mostly in English. Her fiction in Reflex Fiction, Litro, Flash Frontier, Strands, and Bath Flash Fiction. She speaks six languages, teaches Spanish and leads creative writing workshops.

Jay Jellicoe is a writer from the West Midlands who has a Master’s degree in Victorian Studies. Their creative work explores individuality, death, queerness, neurodivergence, animals and places and others.

The 2024 competition will open in mid-January. Details will be published on our website in due course; sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

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