Lemn Sissay - CFLA judge

What the CFLA judges are looking for

13 April 2017
Lemn Sissay - CFLA judge

The Creative Future Literary Awards are now open for submissions on the theme of ‘Important Nothings’. With twelve writer development prizes totalling £10,000+ up for grabs, we checked in with some of our VIP Judges to see what they think makes a winning short story or poem.


Lemn Sissay 

Best-selling poet, playwright and broadcaster – Lemn Sissay is a Creative Future Patron and the host of our October Showcase Event.

“I am looking for beautiful language, an original take on the theme ‘Important Nothings’ and poetry that stops me in my tracks.”


Aki Schilz

Editorial Services Manager for The Literary Consultancy and published writer.

I’d love to see stories that play with the brevity of the form, showing us not just Something Happening In A Few Words, but a glimpse of entire lives, worlds, universes even. I’d like to see things I’ve not seen before, or things I know very well made unfamiliar. Many short stories I read follow quite a similar structure/format: first or, increasingly, second person, with a psychological dilemma at the heart, high on atmosphere but generally low on plot, but I’d also love to see things that push boundaries, that take us outside of what we think we know. I’d be delighted to see something that is wry, or even funny, something that has a quirk to make it stand out. Structure is very important in the short story, and I’d love to see stories that show boldness in how they play with our expectations, but always with an assuredness that the story we are being told is, even if unresolved, still complete.

In poems, it’s that elusive voice we’re after, isn’t it? A voice that tells us something in ways that feel utterly inevitable, but totally new. I’m a fan of free verse, and think it gives a lot of scope for exploration, but I hope we also see some poems that consider the poem and the possibilities of form, of shape, how it occupies space on the page. If you can bowl me over with a brutal villanelle, or draw me in with a modern twist on a ghazal, I’ll be a very happy reader. I’d also love to see work that engages with the world we live in, our political and societal climate. Now is the time for these. Be bold, and good luck!


Dominique De-Light

Co-Founder & Director, Creative Future.

I look for a story that immerses me in a different world, takes me on a journey and makes me see the world in a new way. I love writing that excites me with original use of language, is strongly structured and interprets the theme in an innovative and unusual way.


Click here to see our full list of judges.


The Creative Future Literary Awards are open for submissions until 26 June 2017. Click here to find out more about how to enter your work. 


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