Prize wins for Creative and Life Writing graduates

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Graduates from creative and life writing degrees and short courses at Goldsmiths, University of London are celebrating a raft of national award wins, as the MA Creative and Life Writing marks its 20th anniversary.

MA Creative and Life Writing alumna Claire Adam, winner of the McKitterick Prize for Golden Child

Debut author and MA Creative and Life Writing alumna Claire Adam received the £4,000 McKitterick Prize 2020 this summer from the Society of Authors for her book Golden Child (Faber and Faber). The McKitterick Prize has been awarded annually since 1990 to an author over the age of 40 for a first novel. 

Adam’s book, which tells the story of a family living in rural Trinidad struggling to make ends meet, also won the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2019 and was selected on a BBC list of 100 inspiring novels. 

The author was born and raised in Trinidad before moving to the US then London, where she graduated from Goldsmiths in 2012. She described Goldsmiths as “a huge turning point” and started working on Golden Child during her studies. 

The Society of Authors has named Belfast-born poet and MA Creative and Life Writing graduate Susannah Dickey and her poetry collection Bloodthirsty for Marriage, as one of five winners of this year’s Gregory Award for collections of poetry by writers under 30. Dickey is the author of three poetry pamphlets and her first novel, Tennis Lessons, will be published in June 2020 by Transworld Publishers, with a second novel following in 2022. 

Camilla Balshaw, who is currently completing an MA Creative and Life Writing, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Penguin WriteNow programme from a total of some 4,000 applicants. A writer of short fiction, flash fiction and life writing, Camilla’s work has appeared in the Guardian Weekend and Observer magazines, gal-dem, and more. 

Penguin’s award-winning writing scheme aims to find, nurture and publish new writers from communities that are under-represented on the nation's bookshelves, giving them the tools and support they need to get published. 

The winner of this year’s Spread the Word / Goldsmiths Life Writing Prize was also named this month. From 900 entries, Lorelei Goulding received the 2020 prize for Birdie, which she began while studying a short course in Memoir and Life Writing at Goldsmiths with Dr Anna Derrig. 

Birdie tells the story of a nine-year-old girl who is encouraged to find her voice while she struggles through a difficult period. Originally from New York and now living in Somerset, Goulding is now completing an MSc in Public Health at UWE Bristol. 

One of this year’s prize judges, Sathnam Sanghera, said of her work: “Beautiful, spare, poetical writing, which not only felt professional, but reminded me of one of my favourite memoir writers – Andrea Ashworth. It’s hard to believe this writer is just starting out.” 

Three graduates from Dr Derrig’s highly-popular classes reached the longlist of 6, including Carla Montemayor who made the shortlist of three alongside Goulding, and Sue Hann. Sue also won another creative non fiction award in 2019 and had her short course class piece published.

Dr Derrig is a Goldsmiths PhD graduate in Creative and Life Writing and has been teaching the short course at Goldsmiths for five years. She said: "I feel very privileged to hear and read people's diverse life stories. Some have travelled from Brazil, France and all parts of the UK to attend the course. The quality of the writing and group feedback is astounding - from complete beginners to seasoned professionals. I'm inspired and delighted by the well-deserved success of these students and all who attend and share their writing. Other students have had their work published, gone onto Masters or PhD courses or won other awards." 

The Spread the Word Life Writing Prize in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre was established in 2016, thanks to a generous donation from MA Creative and Life Writing graduate Joanna Munro. Free to enter, the Prize aims to find the best life writing from emerging writers from across the UK.

Find out more about MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths

Find out more about the short course Memoir and Life Writing