Announcing the twelve winners of our 2022 Writers’ Award competition

13 September 2022

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2022 Writers’ Award competition. Migration, belonging, human connections, the determination to create a better future against the odds and lived experiences of autism and gun crime are amongst the themes explored by the twelve winning entries.

The winning submissions, alongside work by our 2022 Award judges, are published in our 2022 anthology, How It Started, available to pre-order on our website now – click here to order your copy.

The winning pieces are:


Platinum To Love and Be Loved as a Language Primer by Lerah Mae Barcenilla
Gold From Dr. Kanner’s office by Helen Price
Silver Framed by Woodgrain by Karen Downs-Barton
Bronze A Glossary of Artillery Terms by Nnadi Samuel
Highly Commended there is nothing like that black voice! by Oluwaseun Olayiwola
Commended I wish we’d won the Miners’ Strike by Jay Farley


Platinum Flibbertigibbet by Yvonne McLeod
Gold The Kam Sun by Hannah Caitlyn Lee
Silver Southport by K Devan
Bronze Fledglings by Alex Joynes
Highly Commended Twenty-Four Answers to the Life in the U.K. Citizenship Exam by Anne Elicaño-Shields
Commended FISH by Olivia Mark

Congratulations to all twelve winners. We are delighted to have discovered these new and exciting voices as they embark on their writing journeys. We are really looking forward to working with each of our talented winners through our unique range of development opportunities.

If you would like to enter the competition next year, the best way to see what gets through to prize level is to read one of our anthologies.

This year’s winners will be celebrated as part of the London Literature Festival on Saturday 22 October reading alongside our judges Dorothy Koomson and Joelle Taylor—tickets are going fast, buy yours here.

Judge of the 2022 Creative Future Writers’ Award, Sunday Times bestselling novelist Dorothy Koomson, says:

‘It’s such an honour to be judging the Creative Future Writers’ Award again. I was blown away by the range and depth of the pieces submitted. Each of the stories and poems that made the shortlist were entertaining, unique and thought-provoking – something that is usually very difficult for writers to achieve at this stage of their writing journey. Flibbertigibbet was something special. You are immediately pulled into the story, effected by the narrative and transported to another world by the descriptive writing. I wanted to keep reading, to have more of this story. Just beautiful. Flibbertigibbet was a wonderful winner, although all those on the shortlist would have made equally worthy winners. This is such a brilliant prize and I am grateful to be involved with it.’

Guest Judge, 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize winning poet Joelle Taylor, says:

‘Through the creation of initiatives like the Creative Future Writers’ Award we glimpse the future of radical writing within the UK. Opening the pages to this anthology is like stepping through a portal into a diverse and dynamic literary landscape that the award helped to populate. The poems and stories submitted hint at an inventive poetic and vital narratives; the margins pulled toward the centre of the page.’



Lerah Mae Barcenilla is a writer and poet who was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in a small province full of magic, tradition and superstition. Currently based in Birmingham, her work touches on topics of the diaspora, memory, mythology and the state of duality. She particularly enjoys breaking apart narrative structures and exploring how words exist on and outside of the page. Her writing has appeared in Herana Poetry, Verve Poetry and was highly commended in The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Award. Lerah Mae Barcenilla lives in Birmingham.

Karen Downs-Barton is an award-winning Anglo-Romani writer and workshop facilitator. After a peripatetic early life including times in state childcare, she has put down roots in Wiltshire. Karen is a PhD candidate at Kings College London writing a magic realist poetry collection exploring identity and minority languages in entertainment and sex industry communities. Karen won the 2021 Cosmo Davenport-Hines poetry award and her poems have appeared in Tears in the Fence, Rattle, Ink Sweat and Tears; and the North amongst others.  Karen Downs-Barton lives in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Jay Farley is an award-winning non-binary, queer, neurodiverse filmmaker and digital artist, working in and with diverse communities. Jay performs Spoken Word and was runner up at their very first Poetry Slam at Liverpool’s Lovely Word Poetry Festival. They will be published as part of the @queerbods anthology ‘Queer Icons’ and the Hot Poets ‘Sparks’ anthology. They have been commissioned by Unity Theatre to perform ‘Beyond Binary’, their one person show as part of the ‘Up Next’ Showcase in September 2022. They are currently working on their first pamphlet. Jay Farley lives in Liverpool.

Oluwaseun Olayiwola is a Nigerian-American choreographer, poet, and critic based in London. His poems and reviews have been widely published and in 2022 he was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition and commended in the Magma Poetry Competition. Oluwaseun Olayiwola lives in London.

Helen Price holds a first class honours degree from the Open University and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing around a full-time job in scientific publishing. Since being diagnosed as autistic with ADHD as a parent in her late thirties, she has begun to explore poetry as a means of understanding and giving voice to neurodivergent identity. Her work will be published in experimental literary magazine, Tiny Spoon. Helen lives near Buckingham with her husband and three children and is also a professional pianist. Helen Price lives in Buckingham.

Nnadi Samuel holds a B.A in English & Literature from the University of Benin. His poetry has been widely published and he won the Canadian Open Drawer contest (2020), Lakefly Poetry Contest (2021), the International Human Right Arts Festival Award, (2021) and the Angela C Mankiewicz Poetry Contest (2022.) Nnadi Samuel lives in Dorset.


K Devan is a writer based in East London and a graduate of the Faber Academy, where he received a full scholarship. His work has been listed for the Life Writing Prize (2019), published by 10:10 press (2020) and won the Future Archive Prize (2021). He is currently working on his first novel. K Devan lives in East London.

Anne Elicaño-Shields is a London-based Filipino writer. She holds an MA in Journalism from Sheffield University and her non-fiction work has been published in The Guardian, CNN Travel, The Radio Times and more. Her unpublished YA novel won the 2021 Promise Prize (FAB Prize, Faber and Faber) and was selected as the winner of the Literary Consultancy’s 2020 BESEA Free Read. She has two young children and is working on her YA novel and a short story collection. Anne Elicaño-Shields lives in London.

Alex Joynes is a writer living in Bolton. His work has been performed in theatres across the north-west, including the Liverpool Everyman and Hope Mill. He was shortlisted for the Lancaster Playwriting Prize for LGBTQ writers in 2021. Alex developed his shortlisted story Fledglings as part of Comma Press’s Short Story Course in 2020. Alex Joynes lives in Bolton.

Hannah Caitlyn Lee grew up in Scotland and her shortlisted story was inspired by her grandmother, a first-generation Chinese immigrant in 1970s Scotland. Hannah has recently graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Strathclyde. She has been published by Neon magazine, who nominated her for a Shirley Jackson Award. She is currently working on a short story collection and is being mentored by leading Scottish literary magazine, Extra Teeth.  Hannah Lee lives in Falkirk.

Olivia Mark is an actor, producer and visual artist living in London. As a Bosnian refugee, Olivia’s work explores identity, place and the psychological impact of immigration.  She has an MSc in conservation practice, is a published academic and has led a NatGeo shortlisted project in deep cave conservation. In 2021 she co-founded Studio Imposters, a creative studio exploring a range of media through installation art and set design. Olivia’s acting and visual art has been featured in Wallpaper, Summerhall, ArtMag and the BBC amongst others. Olivia Mark lives in London. 

Yvonne McLeod is an emerging writer who was born and still lives in London.  She has worked as a music journalist, children’s book reviewer and is currently a teacher. Yvonne is working on her first children’s novel. Yvonne McLeod lives in London.

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