Thirty-six Underrepresented Writers Shortlisted for Creative Future Writers’ Award 2021

13 July 2021

Thirty-six writers from a wide range of working class, LGTBQIA+, Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds were today (13th July 2021) shortlisted for the 8th annual Creative Future Writers’ Award (CFWA).

The UK’s only national writing competition and development programme for all underrepresented writers, the Award celebrates exceptional writing from people who traditionally lack opportunities due to mental health issues, disability, identity, health or social circumstance.

Entrants were invited to submit work on the theme ‘Essential’ in two categories, prose and poetry, with loss, sexuality, homelessness, the impact of the coronavirus—as well as Zoom therapy sessions, wild bear attacks, live crab babysitters, curious carpet layers and ice cream van drivers, and a young precognitive girl living in the time of Noah, explored.

The judges for the 2021 CFWA are best-selling novelist Dorothy Koomson, and award-winning poet Joelle Taylor alongside Aki Schilz (The Literary Consultancy) and Sarala Estruch (Poetry School).

This year the competition attracted over 1,200 entries from unpublished writers across the UK—many of whom have never entered a literary competition before – and saw double the number of entries from non-binary writers and a 10% increase of those from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (from 25% to 35%).

The final twelve winners will be announced on the 28th September 2021 with the writers celebrated at a special showcase at the Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival on the 27th October 2021. They will share over £10,000 in cash and development prizes, as well as appear in an anthology.




Gem Baskerville – Dirty Peaches

Ella Bee Glendining – Lavender

Liz Bentley – Chocolate Covered Honeycomb

Helen Bowie – Poprawa


Naoise Gale – Scorczhed May

Emma Gray – Interface

Jem Henderson – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs according to a 16 year old girl laying on a single bed staring at the ceiling in a homeless hostel

Anna Himali Howard – chomp chomp chomp

Rob Lowe – Table

Norman Miller – Learning In Nine Keys

Jess Murrain – Falling Short

Oluwaseun Olayiwola – Night on the Thames Path

Ava Patel – Something Exists Forever

Rhiya Pau – How Much Is Enough?

Liam Prince – Scum Deluxe

Steve Roberts – How Can I


Farah Ahamed – No One Can Save Anyone

Shazia  Altaf – Essential Thread

Clarissa Angus – Suitcase Serenade

James Austin – Starry Dynamo

Elizabeth Brooks – The Pork Queen of Macon County

Lumiere Chieh – As A Rule

Mary Darroch – Magic Bus

Helen Geoghegan – Promise of Fear

Nanci Gilliver – Tidal

Liza Hartley – Long Boat

Thomas Heath – restart.exe

Ulka Karandikar – Mr Kohli’s Carpets

Ilaria Passeri – The Ice Cream Van

Baljit Sidhu – A Perfectly Ripe…Something or Other

Izzy Steel – Testing Times

Dina Jane Walker – If anxiety wrote my eulogy

EP Wallace – Isn’t This Nice?

Amelia Zhou – Bright

Chief Judge Dorothy Koomson, best-selling novelist, said:

“The quality of writing and storytelling that emerged from this year’s entries was so impressive. I feel really excited for the writing future of everyone who took the time to send something in. I had a great time not only reading the entries but discussing them with my fellow judges. What wasn’t so fun was deciding who would be on the shortlist – I wanted to give everyone a place! I think this is a shortlist to be proud of and I hope everyone on it will realise what an achievement it is to have got this far. This is a fantastic competition and I hope everyone who didn’t quite make it onto the shortlist this year tries again next year.”

Guest Judge, award winning poet Joelle Taylor, said:

“It was a privilege to read such an eclectic, innovative range of work. Each of the entries showed depth, surprise and real energy. The future of UK’s underrepresented writers looks far brighter today.”

Since its inception in 2013 CFWA stays in regular contact with all award winners–creating supportive, nurturing relationships which enable underrepresented writers to thrive, build on the confidence garnered as a result of their award and develop their careers. Previous winners have gone on to secure publication and win notable competitions.

  • Jarred McGinnis (2013) will have his memoir published by Canongate in 2021
  • Cathy Bryant (2013) had her third collection published by Arachne Press
  • Des Mannay (2015) had his first collection published by Waterloo Press
  • Owen Lowery (2016) was Guest Artist at the Dada Festival
  • Gareth Strachan (2016) sold audio rights to his MA thesis dissertation script
  • Romalyn Ante (2016 & 2017) had her debut collection published by Chatto & Windus. It was a National Poetry Day recommended read and Observer Poetry Book of the Month
  • Pauline Walker (2017) was showcased by TLC in January 2020
  • Day Mattar (2017) founded Liverpool’s Queer Poetry Collective and was commissioned by BBC Merseyside radio
  • Elizabeth Ridout (2017) was selected for Spotlight Books, a joint publishing opportunity from Creative Future, Myriad Editions and New Writing South. Her book was shortlisted for the 2020 Poetry Book Awards
  • Megan Holland (2017) won 2nd prize in the Hinterland Prize
  • Jade Cuttle (2018) is teaching for Poetry School
  • Anita Goveas (2018) had her first flash fiction collection, Families and Other Disasters, published by Reflex Press
  • Natalie Linh Bolderston (2018) was a runner-up in the 2019 BBC Proms Poetry Competition, 3rd place in the 2020 National Poetry Competition, and won the 2020 Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award for her collection
  • Kirsty Capes (2018) will have her debut book published by Orion in 2021
  • Lisette Auton (2018) contributing to the Puffin Book of Big Dreams, securing a place on the Creative Leadership Scheme, commissioned by New Writing North’s New Visions of the North East, Durham Book Festival and National Poetry Day
  • Sadie Nott (2018) was shortlisted for the 2020 Bridport Short Story Prize

2019 Winners

  • Susan Downer was shortlisted for the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
  • Iqbal Hussain acquired an agent for his novel
  • Sallyanne Rock was published by Algebra of Owls and Anthropocene Poetry
  • Natalia Theodoridou was shortlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize
  • Sally Davis had a monologue performed by Founding Fall Theatre
  • Michelle Perkins was awarded the inaugural Laura Kinsella Fellowship by the National Centre for Writing
  • Kitty Donnelly published her first collection with Indigo Dreams, and was selected by Carol Ann Duffy for a poetry project responding to the pandemic

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