Some of Cheshire’s most talented writers and poets have gathered at the University of Chester to see their words turned into print.
This year’s Cheshire Prize for Literature anthology launch was held at the university’s Queen’s Park Campus to celebrate the publication of the 2017 competition’s best entries.
The selected stories and poems written for children, including those by the winners and runners up, have been gathered together in Opening Words, edited by competition judge Simon Poole. Simon is programme leader for the Master’s Degree in creative practice in education at the university and senior lead for cultural education and research at Storyhouse.
The striking cover for Opening Words features Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy the Dog - the stars of The Magic Key series of books for the Oxford Reading Tree programme.
It was designed by the illustrator of the series, Alex Brychta MBE.
The anthology also features an introduction by the author of the same series, Dr Roderick Hunt MBE, an alumnus of the then Chester College and an honorary graduate of the University of Chester.
At the launch, each writer was presented with a copy of the anthology by the High Sheriff of Cheshire Alexis Redmond MBE.
Laura Bridge, a primary teacher from Bath, read her winning story The Crate to the audience.
The story is an excerpt from her middle-grade novel, The Web Beneath, in which trees use an underground network of roots to plot against the humans who are destroying them.
Two entrants were highly commended by the judges: Eric Twist, for The Exploding Artichoke and Elizabeth Iddon for The Fall of Sycamore.
Two further entrants were commended by the judges: Sharon Forsdyke for Saved by an Elephant and Elizabeth Harris for The Spy Left Out in the Cold.
Simon Poole said: “The stories and poems for children featured in this Opening Words anthology are nothing short of marvellous.
“There are so many different genres and styles too; there were remarkable examples containing adventure, heart-breaking loss, and even some with more than just a touch of magic about them. Magic is often the key to an engaging text and not always the intangible kind.
“This anthology offers something of that magic and the title itself alludes to the way that words can open up new worlds and ways of understanding.”
He added: “I would like to express my thanks to the judges for their support, time and the challenging debate that ensued during the process of selecting the prize winners this year.
“Special thanks must be extended to Dr Roderick Hunt MBE and Alex Brychta MBE who were the guests of honour at the awards ceremony in 2017 and gave us a wonderfully rich and humorous insight into their long and dynamic relationship as author and illustrator on their numerous publications.
“Their kindness in contributing an introduction and front cover illustration to this anthology makes it a collection of original children’s literature to treasure.”
The Cheshire Prize for Literature is in its 15th year, having been launched in 2003 by the then High Sheriff of Cheshire, John Richards OBE, DL.
It has become established as one of the North West’s leading writing competitions.
Organised by the University of Chester, the competition is open to individuals who live, or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in Cheshire.
This year’s competition for short stories is now open and will close on September 1. For more details visit http://www.chester.ac.uk/literatureprize
Opening Words is published by the University of Chester Press and costs £10.99. To order a copy visit https://storefront.chester.ac.uk